2022 PH Elections - Voices

[OPINION] How to defeat Marcos

Tony La Viña

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[OPINION] How to defeat Marcos
'Give us a radical alternative not just to Marcos but to our rotten and bulok system!'

Our presidential and centralized form of government vests broad powers to the president. He is not only the chief executive but is the appointing authority of all the personnel in the executive department, which encompasses all departments, bureaus, agencies and all other instrumentalities of government. He or she is not only the chief implementor of the laws and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but also the chief architect of the foreign policy direction of the country. With all powers and privileges vested in him, the presidency is for all intents and purposes a veritable repository of governmental powers that outstrips any other single person in government. 

This is why the presidential election is the contest that garners the most attention and interest. Naturally, in the coming May 2022 national elections, the presidential candidates are the ones subject to the most rigorous public scrutiny. 

The campaign period for the 2022 national elections began on Tuesday, February 8. Motorcades and proclamation rallies marked the day. Among the 11 presidential bets included by the Commission on Elections’ final list for the 2022 polls, Ping Lacson, Bongbong Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, Leni Robredo, and Ka Leody De Guzman are considered to be serious contenders. Based on a number of poll surveys, Bongbong Marcos is shaping up to be the leading contender. But there is time for others to catch up, especially Vice President Leni Robredo, who has been endorsed by the Makabayan coalition as the best bet to defeat the Marcos-Duterte ticket.

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A broken political system

Our political experience over the years shows that personality, political machinery, and money politics take precedence over programs of government in getting elected to an elective post. This is why celebrities, corrupt politicians, and political dynasts continue to be elected elections after elections. Never mind that these candidates do not offer a viable and credible program of government that will address the problems of society. To most, politics is a way to amass wealth and power, not a vehicle for public service. To a lot of voters, elections is entertainment, a temporary respite from the drudgery and humdrum of daily life, or to earn a few bucks at the expense of candidates. 

What is important to a large chunk of the electorate is immediate gratification, to be entertained and earn some money, and not advance the interest of the country or the future of the next generations. Many are woefully resigned to the same-same form of politics such that voting preference is influenced by cynicism and skepticism, that no matter what, things will not change. This is why the one who best capitalizes on the weaknesses and flaws of the broken system will benefit the most out of it.  

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How to defeat Marcos

The biggest task of the presidential candidates that are trying to catch up with frontrunner Marcos (hopefully his lead has been diminished greatly since December) is to differentiate themselves not only from Marcos but from each other. On platform and vision of society, only Ka Leody seems to be able to do that, with the other candidates essentially offering the same old solutions to our problems, offering themselves as leaders of a hopelessly compromised political and economic system. 

None of the “mainstream” candidates are offering solutions that go to the roots of our society’s social inequality, to the roots of our social conflicts, solutions that would reject development aggression and choose sustainability as the basis for economic decisions, and of course solutions to our distorted politics that marginalizes political parties and enthrones celebrities and political dynasties.

It’s interesting that, while playing lip service to the youth vote, none of the candidates are making a strong pitch for that vote, for example by proposing radical solutions to our educational challenges and to the climate crisis. There is still time to do this but if this is not done, there will be no youth vote distinct from their parents and their geographic regions.

The country‘s economic and political system is rotten – bulok – to its core. The strength of the Marcos candidacy is explained by the state of this system; it is a product of that system. Unless a candidate offers a clear pathway out of this rotten system, why will voters choose them? Wouldn’t it be just logical to stick with the most rotten/bulok of the candidates if the others anyway will just keep the system as it is?

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Radical change needed

What we need is authentic radical love not based on personalities but on a vision of radical structural changes. 

We need a change in mindset and values through sustained voter education coupled with the institutionalization of transformative and meaningful structural and systemic reforms by giving flesh to the anti-dynasty provision of the constitution, establishment of a not-personality-centered two-party system founded on ideological moorings, banning turncoatism, and a no-nonsense and no-holds-barred prosecution of election law violators such as vote-buying and other forms of electoral fraud, among others. This will go a long way to correct a broken electoral system and damaged political culture that has long plagued our society.

Beyond political reforms, we also need radical economic and social reforms. Unfortunately, except for Ka Leody, we are getting the same old ideas from the other candidates, for instance a reaffirmation of neoliberal ideas on liberalizing and privatizing the economy or the discredited approach on environmental issues based on weighing costs and benefits, when what we need is upholding environmental and climate justice.

This is not a rant, but a challenge to the other campaigns. Give us a radical alternative not just to Marcos but to our rotten and bulok system! That’s the only way Marcos can be defeated. – Rappler.com

Tony La Viña is the Associate Director for climate policy and International relations of Manila Observatory. He also teaches law and is former dean of the Ateneo School of Government.

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