WHEN Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency in 2016, liberal democratic forces still didn’t see the need to unite like they are seeing that need now. Had they seen that, they wouldn’t have easily surrendered the power they acquired during the 1985 Edsa people power uprising to forces pushing for the return of most of some of the features of the discredited dictatorship. The liberal voters still outnumbered the Duterte sympathizers in that election but their loyalties were divided.
This I should say is the weakness of the post-Marcos electoral setup that is incorporated in the 1987 Constitution the liberal bourgeoisie and the landlords led by then president Cory Aquino masterminded. It weakened the hold of the forces of democracy to power and allowed Ferdinand Marcos wannabes to seize Malacañang or at the very least become kingmakers and influence peddlers.
Now the liberal democrats are up and about, trying to forge a unity against the forces that have been dominant for the past several years. Because Duterte won then, an air of invulnerability is surrounding him. But I have faith in the Filipino people. If their unity can oust a dictator, why couldn’t it defeat the next Marcos wannabe in an election?
It thus seem like the pendulum of public opinion is swinging again. In the US, former president Donald Trump, who like Duterte surprised the democrats in that country, lost in his reelection bid to Joe Biden. That does not augur well for diehard Duterte sympathizers who are being quieted down by their idol’s excesses and inadequacies. With the forces of democracy forging a unity, it would be difficult for the torchbearer of the Duterte administration to move forward in the presidential elections next year.
By the way, that our country’s politics have always been influenced by the US is one favorite line of activists who have read the works of Renato Constantino. What was the role of the US in the 1986 Edsa people power uprising? And what role did it play in the country’s politics post-Marcos? More importantly, what was its role in the rise of Duterte to power?
Apparently nothing, if Duterte’s foreign policy as president will be used as a gauge. China apparently surprised US policy makers with its effort, more aggressive than the US I should say, to influence Philippine politics. But that was when Trump was president. Biden is a different US president, more traditional in his thinking than Trump ever was. That is why I see parallels in the current effort to unite the forces of democracy against Duterte with the effort in the past to unite the political opposition against Ferdinand Marcos Sr. China’s Xi Jinping has found his equal in Biden. That would be bad for the pro-China forces in the current dispensation. Because the giant seems to be awake now.
But the more would I applaud if the US hand is not there in the current effort to unite the forces of democracy in the country. Unity, after all, is s virtue the forces of democracy everywhere need to possess nowadays.