2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Post-election scenarios

Amado L. Picardal

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[OPINION] Post-election scenarios
'Will the new president lead the country out of darkness?'

As the elections draw near, many are anxious about what will happen after the winner of the presidential race is announced. Whoever wins will have an impact on the country for the next six years and beyond. We have been in darkness under an authoritarian rule that has failed to effectively address the problems of poverty, drugs, corruption, violence, and change, as well as the pandemic and the consequent economic crisis. Will the new president lead the country out of darkness?  Since the future is unpredictable, it is better to come up and imagine possible scenarios. 

 Robredo presidency

Her “miraculous” victory is met with euphoria and rejoicing among the majority of Filipinos. She reaches out to the supporters of other candidates. Although feeling cheated, there is no strong reaction from supporters of Marcos Jr., who himself files a series of election protests and demands a recount.

She appoints people of competence and integrity in the cabinet and other government positions; she mobilizes the Pink Movement and Civil Society to assist in carrying out her program of government. She focuses on addressing the pandemic crisis like what she had been doing as vice president, but this time on a grander scale – stopping the spread of the epidemic, assistance to those most affected, etc. Appropriate policies and systems that address the pandemic, economic, and ecological crises are implemented; good governance with grassroots participation becomes the norm.

The rule of law is upheld. Those responsible for plunder and murder are held accountable. The DOJ initiates investigations into abuses and crimes committed during the previous administration. The government cooperates with the International Criminal Court in the investigation of the extrajudicial killings. A system of transparency is put in place to prevent corruption. The peace process with the NDF is resumed and a final peace agreement is reached that addresses the roots of armed conflict. Since she was elected with the support of Church people there is close Church and state collaboration for the common good.

She faces the problem of lack of support from the Senate and House of Representatives if few of her allies win. She has difficulty in passing legislative agenda for reforms and good governance. She also has difficulty with local governments units dominated by traditional politicians and political dynasties. The Pink Movement can bear pressure on local government officials and promote good governance at the local and grassroots level. New leaders of the same mold as Robredo emerge and are supported that will challenge the traditional political elite and dynasties. 

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Marcos Jr. presidency 

Scenario A

The elections turn out to be credible, fair, and honest. The losing candidates concede but Marcos Jr. does not get the full support and respect because of a general feeling that his victory was achieved through lies and disinformation funded by his family’s ill-gotten wealth.  For the next six years, the efforts of Marcos Jr. focus on the following:

  • the restoration of his family honor and dynasty, stop all efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth and payment of estate tax, protection of Imelda from serving her sentence for graft.
  • the continuation of the policies and style of governance of the Duterte administration characterized by incompetence, corruption, violence, and impunity.

He pursues the war on drugs and the pro-China policy as well as total war against the revolutionary movement.  He appoints his vice president Sara as Defense Secretary to help carry this out. The death squads are allowed to continue to operate with impunity, targeting not just drug users but also those who have been red-tagged. The ICC investigation continues and includes Sara, who was mayor of Davao when the Davao Death Squads were active. 

While uniting the traditional corrupt political elite, Marcos Jr. is unable to unite the nation behind him. Lacking in leadership experience and competence, he is incapable of addressing the pandemic, economic, and ecological crises effectively.  Being contented with the honor and glory of being the president, he remains carefree and lazy and continues to practice an absentee and laissez-faire style of leadership. He depends on others to do the hard and dirty work and relies on the advice of his wife Liza, thus earning the title of conjugal rule. He is unable to do away with corruption in government. He does not have the trust, confidence, and respect of many Filipinos. He is unable to go to the US for fear of being arrested. 

Crony capitalism becomes rampant and he is unable to attract foreign investments due to lack of investors’ confidence. The economy deteriorates and he is not able to fulfil his promise of bringing back the golden era of the Philippines. There is no Tallano gold and those who voted for him and the majority of Filipinos remain impoverished and feel scammed once again. 

Leni Robredo does not disappear from the scene. She continues to serve in her own capacity even without a government position. She provides leadership to the opposition and the Pink Movement, which shifts to peaceful, non-violent resistance.  Every self-serving decision of the Marcos Jr. administration is challenged and resisted.  His non-payment of P203-B estate taxes as well as the non-implementation of the Sandigan Bayan conviction of Imelda for plunder is raised. There is a threat of non-payment of taxes. There is demand for accountability, including investigation of corruption and extrajudicial killings. 

As the economic crisis deepens, the people have to fend for themselves. Civil society groups, the members of the Pink Movement and Churches respond by sharing  their resources, time and expertise to deal with the bleak situation.  They promote a sharing and collaborative economy. Instead of relying on the government, they come up with concrete socio-economic programs and projects that address hunger and unemployment, alleviate poverty, and address climate change.  They promote renewable energy, circular economy, sustainable, and regenerative agriculture. They implement the agenda and platform of the Pink Revolution even if outside the government. They make use of the digital information and communication technology and help the country to adapt to the emerging new industrial economic revolution.  They exert effort to change Philippine society from below. 

As Marcos Jr. resorts to authoritarian style of governance copying his father’s and predecessor’s playbook, resistance increases. The political and economic situation deteriorates  There is heightened social unrest, division and tension. The NDF-CPP-NPA become stronger as many – especially the youth – are disillusioned with the situation and the political-economic system join the armed revolutionary movement fighting for radical change. Peace remains elusive as resistance to his rule grows. There is no peace negotiations as the government and the revolutionary movement adopt  a hardline stance. There is constant effort to oust him. The Church exercises a prophetic/critical role judging the Marcos administration as built on lies, deceit and corruption, having no moral basis to govern. A segment within the military is restive and does not support the repressive rule and pro-China and anti-US policy. The question: will he be able to finish his term or will history repeat itself? Will there be a peaceful transfer of power or a long dark bloody night? 

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Scenario B

Due to unchecked disinformation campaign, massive vote buying, and rigging of election with the complicity of Comelec, Robredo and other candidates do not concede. This triggers a sustained vigorous protest and civil disobedience campaign spearheaded by the Pink Movement with Robredo providing leadership. This spreads nationwide with the support of the Church. 

The situation becomes volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Duterte declares a state of emergency until Marcos Jr. is sworn into office. This leads to greater reaction. An insurrectionary mood prevails. Duterte orders a crackdown. NPA operations increase.  Due to civil disobedience the entire country is paralyzed. A segment of the military refuses to carry out repressive measures against the people. This can either be quickly resolved through People Power like 1986 – with history repeating itself – or to a long dark night of authoritarian rule and determined struggle to oust the ruling regime and usher in a new political-economic system. Whether there is a peaceful transfer of power or a bloody one remains to be seen. 

Sara Duterte presidency

(These two scenarios, although seemingly far-fetched and dismissed as conspiracy theory, cannot be ruled out. Questions have been raised why the Comelec failed to come out with a timely decision on the disqualification case against Marcos which could prevent the Supreme Court from coming up with a final ruling before the elections. Duterte’s allies are also making sure that Sara wins as vice president by promoting a RoSa (Robredo-Sara) tandem. This has brought suspicion that this is part of a complex maneuver by Duterte to ensure his hold on power by proxy and defend him from the ICC investigation. There are two scenarios: a. Marcos Jr. victory, b. Robredo victory).

Scenario  A: Marcos Jr. is declared winner by the Comelec. Sara Duterte is also declared winner as vice president.  Before or after being sworn in, the Supreme Court decides to disqualify Marcos Jr. Sara is proclaimed as the new president.

Scenario  B: Robredo wins the presidency with Sara as vice president. Robredo has no support in the Senate and House of Representatives dominated by Duterte allies. They maneuver to impeach and oust Robredo.  Sara becomes president assuring the continuity of the Duterte hold on power.

Whether scenario A or B, both trigger widespread protest and civil disobedience spearheaded by the Pink Movement waging active nonviolent struggle. This spread nationwide with the support of the Church. The situation becomes volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This leads to greater reaction. An insurrectionary mood prevails. NPA operations increase. Due to civil disobedience the entire country is paralyzed. This can either be quickly resolved through People Power like 1986 or to a long dark night of authoritarian rule and determined struggle to oust the ruling regime. 

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Final thoughts

We find ourselves in an uncertain, complex, ambiguous situation. We will be surprised how things will turn out. This is how many felt at the beginning of 1986 before the snap election that Marcos Sr. called confident of his victory. What happened in EDSA in Feb 22-25, 1986 was totally unexpected. It was not in any of the scenarios. It seemed miraculous. 

But already we are seeing a glimpse of what can happen no matter what the outcome of the election may be. What we are seeing so far is the emergence of a new kind of politics that gives hope for the future – beyond May 9. A substantial number of ordinary citizens from all walks of life, most of them young people, fed up with the traditional style of politics, who are actively involved in the fight for good governance. They are people full of hope, with integrity, decency, kindness, compassion, self-discipline, creativity, and joy. They represent the best version of the Filipino. 

They look for and support servant-leaders who can inspire them to share their time, talent, and resources to work for a better Philippines. They are developing a sense of solidarity, communion, and what sociologist Victor Turner calls “communitas.” We can already see and experience this in the massive rallies. They are organic and self-organizing, making use of the digital information and communication technology to connect to each other, fight false news and disinformation, and go out into the streets, and far-flung communities voluntarily to make a difference. The spirit of EDSA People Power is once again here and will not easily go away. This is the face of transformative politics that will replace the traditional transactional-patronage politics dominated by corrupt and self-serving political elites and dynasties. Assuming that this is not just a temporary phenomenon but a genuine social movement,  the struggle – the Pink Revolution – will not end on May 9 – whether with a victory of Robredo or Marcos Jr or a Daughterte presidency.  

Under a Robredo presidency, their active support and participation can be relied on so that there will be genuine transformation and good governance. From among them will emerge new breed of servant-leaders chosen and supported by an awakened citizenry that cannot be bought and dominated by traditional politicians. They can change the prevailing political culture.  

Under a Marcos presidency, the Pink Movement will resist the continuation of the corrupt and authoritarian style of governance and any efforts of impunity, human rights violation, etc.  They are capable of carrying out massive protest and even another people power uprising when necessary. The struggle for good governance and genuine social transformation continues. This time it will come from below rather than from the top. This is the new paradigm of social change.

According to Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, based on his studies of institutions and groups, it only takes at least 20% to make a difference. Arnold Toynbee in his study of the history of civilizations and nations also wrote about the role of “creative minorities” in initiating social change. Whether the number of those in the Pink Movement is enough to win this coming election remains to be seen. What is certain is that in the long run, this is enough to effect genuine social transformation.  This is the source of hope, the light in the midst of darkness. – Rappler.com

Fr. Amado Picardal is a Redemptorist priest and peace and human rights advocate. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. He was executive co-secretary of the Commission of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General in Rome. 

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