There is something to be said about how the Liberal Party (LP), the political force that has remained ubiquitous ever since the 1986 People Power Movement, has handled its role as part of political opposition to the Rodrigo Duterte administration.
The volume of statements coming from the LP-led opposition has not died down, despite the recent movements that have affected them. Senator Leila de Lima, arguably one of the biggest, most outspoken voices, was recently arrested. Her allies claim she was brought into custody, simply because she dared to be a critic; defenders of the move stand by it, because they want to see her links to the drug trade investigated. The other maneuver against the LP involved the removal of several associated senators from key posts and committee chairmanships.
The rallying cry that the LP has taken, in light of these developments, is that the Duterte administration is moving to silence dissent, and to scare its critics and opponents into submission. They contend that the presence of dissent and opposition is essential for a democracy to work.
The LP seems to conveniently forget, however, that credibility as the opposition isn’t an entitlement; it is earned.
People who were critical of past administrations – Noynoy Aquino’s, in particular – were well aware of this. Critics back then had to earn their stripes and gain credibility the hard way – through focus on the issues and providing a solid counterpoint/alternative to the heavily co-opted mainstream media. Furthermore, they had to do this while being stared down, and discredited, by a formidable communications monolith – the Malacanang communications group (troll army and all), PLUS mainstream media. It was not hard to criticize the Aquino government, however, because it had shortcomings even in basic, common, human decency.
Thus it comes to light, that the biggest factor in the LP’s “crisis of credibility”, as part of the “opposition”, is its inconsistency; certain critics of the LP would rather use the word hypocrisy. Whichever word one would like to use, it simply highlights that the LP has been starkly terrible at practicing what it preaches. More prominently, there is very little that it can accuse the Duterte administration of, which its members themselves have not done.
Single out opposition figures? Reminder: Noynoy and De Lima singled out Arroyo, et al.
Silence dissent? Tell VP Leni Robredo to stop blocking differing opinions on her social media pages.
Employ propaganda to deodorize itself? What the hell were Ricky, Edwin, Abi, and Sonny in their positions for?!
People Power was for all? Somebody forgot to send the memo to Jim Paredes!
True to form, rather than keep its opposition issues-based, give itself a reality check, propose a concrete vision of a future for the Philippines, and come to terms with its lack of results in the past decades, the LP has retreated to its comfort zone of propagating a victim mentality/persecution complex. A growing number of people have grown tired of their act, and are no longer entertained/moved by their machinations.
Realistically speaking, we recognize that the LP is not the only component of the opposition. There are many independent voices that remain in the Popcorn Camp, as benign0 has described. The lament of quite a few of these commentators is that, criticizing the Duterte administration doesn’t necessarily make one an LP supporter, or a Yellowtard, and vice versa. Even if one supports the Liberal Party, one doesn’t necessarily venerate the Yellow movement and the Aquino family associated with it.
GRPost takes the position described above; we have remained, to the best of our abilities, consistently focused on the issues and ideas which underpin Filipino culture and society, regardless of who the sitting president is, and where he/she is from.
The problem, however, that plagues the opposition to this administration remains seemingly unchanged from previous ones. The many voices in the wilderness just cannot get along with each other, and put a greater cause above themselves. As the loudest voice in the wilderness, and the one with a lot of resources, the LP has had its chances to galvanize the critics, and give shape and direction to the voice of the opposition. If anyone were to fill the voids, the LP would. But the arrogance and exclusivity expressed by some of its members, as well as other non-aligned voices, have rendered the dissent weightless, and reduced it to noise that can be easily ignored.
Quite simply, the presence of the LP and Yellowtards among Duterte’s critics undermines the credibility of the rest. Perhaps if other opposition figures disown these two parties to an even greater extent, critics would gain a whole lot more weight in their pronouncements.
If the arrest and ouster of a few of its prominent figures so easily scares the LP, then perhaps it’s not the administration strong-arming them that should be a concern. Perhaps they need to look at the reality that their constitutions are rather weak; the LP is nothing but a bunch of yellow-livered pussies.
That the LP has not stepped up appropriately in its role as part of “the opposition” is a BIG wasted opportunity. The Duterte administration is not without its faults; Duterte’s campaign against drugs, for example, is handicapped by the very instrument that it needs in order to be carried out: a compromised police force. Neither has the administration really made significant strides yet, in addressing its fundamental weaknesses in communications, and the risk it faces in being overthrown.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the LP can be dealt a blow hard enough, so that it will be permanently knocked out (of relevance), or whether it will continue to be a fly in the ointment of the sitting administration.
Buy popcorn, lots of it. This drama series is going to drag on for quite some time…