With President Duterte’s immense popularity with the masses, his 2022 team will be heavy favorites to win the election regardless of whether he himself runs or not.
His opponents are not giving up, though. Last Thursday, they gathered in Makati to punch their ticket to election success. Thus was the 1Sambayan born.
The coalition is unique in that the prime movers are not politicians although they have extensive service in government, including a retired Supreme Court justice, a retired Ombudsman and a retired navy admiral. The politicians will eventually take over, of course, but only after the coalition has accomplished its mission, that of getting all anti-Duterte forces to agree to fielding a unified slate in 2022.
That’s a tall order. As far as I can remember, only one person has succeded in convincing two determined aspirants to unite under a single ticket. Can they do a Cardinal Sin?
In 1985, after President Marcos announced during an interview with U.S. journalists that he was calling a snap election in 1986, the opposition had to chose between Doy Laurel and Cory Aquino as standard bearer. Laurel was convinced that he was the most prepared to challenge Marcos. Aquino, on the other hand, was a reluctant candidate, relenting only after more than a million people signed a petition for her to seek the presidency.
Laurel had the better organization in UNIDO, but Aquino was the sentimental favorite owing to her being the widow of Ninoy, who was assassinated in 1983. For a while, it looked like the opposition challenge to Marcos was doomed as neither Laurel nor Aquino budged, both rejecting efforts to get one of them to withdraw. Finally, Cardinal Sin intervened and persuaded Laurel to run for Vice President instead.
Retired Justice Antonio Carpio and his fellow convenors have their work cut for them. Will they be able to get the Left and the Right wings of the anti-Duterte forces to work together? Grace Poe and Nancy Binay? Jojo Binay and Noynoy Aquino?
If they can, it will only be because the coalition partners are united in their opposition to Duterte. But what if they win? How would this hodgepodge of politicians and political groups, each with their own parochial interest to protect and separate agenda to pursue, plan to govern?
It bears repeating that whoever Duterte fields will be overwhelming favorites to win. The odds are probably 80 to 20 as of now, and that is being generous. For the opposition candidates to have any chance of winning, not only will they have to convince the people why Duterte and his allies have to be replaced but more importantly, what, where and how the replacements can do better.
Cory Aquino was a good President and even a better person. She could have accomplished more, but her administration was cursed by the conflicting interests of the people who helped put her to office. We do not want to see that happen again. Once is enough.
A strong opposition is good for democracy. Carpio deserves praise for laying the groundwork for what could be an interesting challenge to Duterte. But his search should not only be for candidates who can win together but can also work together.