Word of advice

Last March, distraught Filipinos saw hope in the announcement of a united opposition movement, which came amid a foreboding dynastic victory for the presidency. 1Sambayan, a pro-democracy opposition slate for the 2022 national elections, had just been launched. The coalition declared that they aim to establish a roster of candidates who can take on the administration’s bids.

This saw immediate support from the youth as well as from those against the current administration. However, since June, some supporters have revoked their patronage.

1Sambayan announced its presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the upcoming 2022 national elections on Independence Day. The nominees ranged from administration critics to some moderates—Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Grace Poe, Atty. Chel Diokno, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto. Not even a week later, however, half of their slate had already withdrawn from the nomination

For many, this failure of an announcement was crucial—it was the time people were beginning to realize that this coalition had no clear vision beyond having a mutual hate for President Rodrigo Duterte. This dwindling popularity is exacerbated by the fact that they are already having difficulty securing grassroots support. And this comes with reason: until now, we do not know what they want to do.

Now, seven months after their launch, they still lack a contending slate. Even worse, they still have no platforms. An issue arises, therefore, in their lack of foundations and connection to the people. 

1Sambayan has only continued to be consistent in the way they present themselves—people that are “better” than Duterte. But this is how the opposition lost in 2019.

Continuous tirades against the President, making it their brand, and putting off promoting any actual plans of action for the people they want to serve was Otso Diretso’s defect. And it proved to not be enough.

In a country where many are left to prioritize putting food on the table or surviving paycheck to paycheck, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to understand the abstractions of democracy and the plethora of buzzwords that come out of a candidate’s mouth. It is quite absurd to expect them to be in favor of someone that lambasts their president who, from their point of view, has managed to do the bare minimum of providing for them.

This disconnect between what people actually want and what these candidates fight for is their drawback. Our voters are neither dense nor foolish, but given their present circumstances, they value survival more. And the government is an entity that they need to see caters to them. 

Being adversarial without a concrete platform fails; Duterte, in his campaign and arguably throughout his term, promised to fulfill the basic needs of everyone—a trait that has maintained his popularity most especially during the pandemic. 

Give people what they need. Show them you want to give it. Enough short-sighted outbursts about how bad this presidency is. People want and need something concrete—plans and projects to get us out of the bad state you so say the current administration has put us in.

While we need a leader that knows how democracy works and protects it, the country needs one that, above all else, shows they care about the small things, too.

Kim Balasabas

By Kim Balasabas

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