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Diverted attention

With the current infighting among the opposition and its supporters, the concept of a united front is still up in the air.

“We have discussed this, again and again, and this is the understanding of everybody: that unless we are united, we cannot win in 2022.” These were 1Sambayan Lead Convener Antonio Carpio’s words when the group launched back in March this year. 

Seven months later, however, we see previously nominated 1Sambayan standard bearers Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice President Leni Robredo go head to head for the presidency. The two are also against late dictator’s son Bongbong Marcos, retired boxer Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Ping Lacson, and labor leader Leody De Guzman who are all aiming to be president.

Come October, what seemed like another post from De Guzman turned into a storm of tweets where his supporters and Robredo’s traded blows because of statements made by the labor leader. There, he claimed that Leni meeting with Moreno and Pacquiao to try and unify the opposition backfired. De Guzman stated in Filipino that these only gave off the impression that the two other presidentiables are worth considering for our vote. 

While Robredo has not responded to the issue, supporters from both sides continue to bicker over which candidate is better. For a time, people forgot that they were on the same side that is trying to prevent another Duterte or Marcos from winning the next elections, undermining the “united opposition”. 

The importance of joining forces to defeat what seems like an insurmountable foe is nothing new. In the 1986 snap elections, former Sen. Salvador Laurel backed out of the presidential race to become Cory Aquino’s running mate when it became clear that this was the only way to overcome dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s popularity and followership. Similarly in today’s context, having just one opposition tandem—or slate, for that matter—would allow the pooling of support to triumph over pro-authoritarianism candidates’ popularity. 

With both the Duterte and Marcos camps being known for their populist approach and their use of trolls to boost their visibility, the split support for De Guzman and Robredo now threatens the opposition’s chances of winning in 2022. Not only does the infighting between opposition supporters split the votes and damage the supposedly incorruptible reputation of both candidates, it also ruins the chances of creating a solid platform that could be possible when the two camps share their expertise and knowledge, especially of the needs of minority groups.

Aside from this, the Marcoses also stand to gain the most from this infighting. Bongbong already has a loyal following that he only needs to maintain. The same goes for Duterte diehards. If anything, this could serve as an opportunity for them to solidify their popularity among the masses while their competitors remain embroiled in their own fights. If this continues, other candidates who are not as friendly to Robredo’s or De Guzman’s agendas can easily take advantage of their vulnerabilities and destroy their campaigns entirely. That is, if the infighting from the supporters wouldn’t do that for them. 

While certificates of candidacy have been filed, we have yet to see the final list of candidates. With neither De Guzman nor Robredo showing any intentions of giving way to each other, supporters should stop wasting their time fighting each other, and instead focus their energy on debunking fake news, advocating for the platforms of their candidate, and getting more votes in their favor. The opposition is too focused on unnecessarily proving to others that they have the moral high ground instead of engaging with others and convincing them to join their cause. 

They are more focused on showing people that they are right instead of showing them what is right. Meanwhile, De Guzman and Robredo need to reconsider the value of a united front that they can put forward to put an end to a dictatorial regime. Along with this united front, both camps need to align their plans and strategies that truly embody what the Filipinos need and deserve. While individually they can and want to play key roles in this endeavor, priorities have to be set. 

At the end of the day, both factions should focus on their unified and shared goal: preventing another one of Duterte’s or Marcos’ successors from becoming president. While burying the hatchet can indeed be difficult for both sides, it is but a sacrifice that everyone must make for both groups of followers to collaborate and to help each other. That way, support and votes can be pooled to a solidified collective that will ultimately shake off the Dutertes’ and the Marcoses’ grasps over the country.

By The LaSallian

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