MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is ending his time period with an obliterated political opposition, a transparent signal of Filipinos’ approval of his populist-authoritarian rule that has set the stage for the rise to energy of his successor, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Philippine opposition chief and outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo misplaced the 2022 presidential race. She ran on a folks empowerment platform that aimed to rid the federal government of the outdated and rotten politics that has dominated for many years. However greater than 31 million Filipinos would reasonably see the dictator’s household return to Malacañang as an alternative.
Robredo’s momentum within the closing weeks earlier than the Could 9 elections got here somewhat too late. The volunteer-led “pink motion” that she impressed was no match to the six years of demonization that she and her allies within the once-ruling Liberal Social gathering (LP) suffered by the hands of Duterte.
The rise of intolerant democracy within the Philippines additional crippled the opposition, with a minimum of the President himself hammering on criticisms that his critics are elitists brandishing their “holier than thou” narrative on the plenty.
THE STRONGMAN. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the folks after holding a gathering with key authorities officers at Malacañang Palace on Could 23, 2022. Presidential photograph
The Duterte administration’s huge disinformation community boosted the President’s lies towards opposition figures, with propagandists and trolls amplifying false data being unfold about them – from supposed corrupt actions to alleged hyperlinks to communist rebels.
The President weaponized the legislation and Congress, utilizing authorized devices to justify strikes to stifle critics. Duterte has additionally succeeded in packing each the Home of Representatives and the historically unbiased Senate together with his allies, who voted on payments and resolutions based mostly on his needs.
Incoming president Marcos stands to learn from Duterte’s beneficial properties. The opposition has been left in scrambles after Marcos managed to forge what some political pundits consider to be a good stronger ruling coalition with Duterte’s daughter Sara because the nation’s vice president-elect.
It’s a portrait of present-day Philippine politics when energy and personalities trump ideas, and most conventional politicians – Filipinos name them “trapo” – dare stand as much as a president as well-liked as Duterte or Marcos.
Former Ateneo College of Authorities (ASOG) dean Tony La Viña mentioned that Duterte’s struggle towards the opposition is nothing new, as his predecessors Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III additionally made strikes towards their critics.
The distinction was that Duterte did it higher, together with his brazen disregard for decency and the rule of legislation.
“In a manner, we shouldn’t make an enormous deal out of the truth that the opposition was defeated by Duterte. It’s the logical consequence of the political system that we now have. Aquino did the identical factor, Arroyo did the identical factor for the Home of Representatives, and for the native officers,” La Viña instructed Rappler. “However Duterte, clearly, did it higher by being extra ruthless. That’s actually the distinction.”
The Duterte authorities’s coordinated propaganda community turned a strong weapon towards the opposition and all shades below it – the “yellows,” the progressives, and all the pieces in between who dissented towards the President’s abusive insurance policies.
Along with his lies amplified on-line by propagandists, Duterte has turned “dilawan,” referring to the yellow coloration of LP, right into a derogatory time period to explain his critics – even when a few of them don’t even take into account themselves liberals.
On-line propaganda additionally helped form public opinion in regards to the former ruling occasion. A #FactsFirstPH research confirmed that the highest targets of the Duterte disinformation community included present and former LP stalwarts: Aquino, Robredo, former inside secretary and 2016 presidential wager Mar Roxas, amongst others.
It got here as no shock then when candidates who ran below LP, or had been recognized allies of the occasion, misplaced within the 2019 and 2022 elections.
Within the 2019 midterm polls, solely 18 LP candidates had been elected within the Home whereas all of the senatorial bets of the LP-led Otso Diretso coalition misplaced.
The occasion fared worse within the 2022 elections – solely 12 members clinched seats within the Home and no LP candidate managed to win the senatorial race.
Reelected Senator Risa Hontiveros was the only real opposition candidate to safe victory. She belongs to Akbayan, a recognized shut ally of LP.
“Intolerant democracy is an actual, heavy problem for us to have interaction in. Our Filipino values have been altering and so they can proceed to vary. The values – not wars. The values battle is likely one of the most necessary components of our contested democracy,” Hontiveros mentioned in her interview with Nobel laureate and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. “We now have to remain within the recreation. We now have to call these values with out judging or demeaning one another.”
LP’s damaging branding was additionally Robredo’s unstated burden as opposition chief, a title she didn’t absolutely embrace till someday in the midst of Duterte’s time period. Robredo later determined to hunt the presidency as an unbiased candidate, in a bid to be seen as a extra unifying determine for the opposition forces she tried however didn’t unite.
Her working mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan, LP president, ran below the occasion’s banner. The Robredo-Pangilinan tandem, nonetheless, completed solely in second place of their respective races within the 2022 polls.
This disinformation community additionally closely focused activists and progressive teams, with Duterte himself main the cost in accusing them as fronts for the Communist Social gathering of the Philippines (CPP).
On-line disinformation centered on creating an surroundings that sought to allow and justify violence by branding activists as terrorists and exaggerating the communist risk.
Duterte operated to take away the Makabayan bloc party-list teams from Congress: Bayan Muna, Kabataan, ACT Academics, Gabriela Ladies’s Social gathering, and Anakpawis.
And slowly however certainly, the President received what he wished. In 2016, Makabayan had seven seats in Congress. In 2019, that was diminished to 6, with Anakpawis dropping its seat within the chamber. And in 2022, Makabayan lawmakers within the Home are down to 3, one every for Kabataan, ACT Academics, and Gabriela.
Bayan Muna suffered its greatest loss in its two-decade historical past of collaborating within the party-list elections.
STILL FIGHTING. ACT Academics Consultant France Castro, Kabataan Consultant Raoul Manuel, and Gabriela Consultant Arlene Brosas increase their fights because the Comelec proclaims them among the many winners of the 2022 party-list race on Could 26, 2022. Photograph by Rappler
The opposition’s Achilles’ heel was its failure to acknowledge early on simply how large the risk disinformation was to democracy.
Studying from the painful lesson of the previous six years, Robredo has vowed to guide efforts to interrupt the large disinformation community on social media as soon as she steps down as Vice President on June 30.
Weapons: Congress and legislation
As lies festered on-line and seeped into the Filipino psyche, Duterte and his authorities allies launched parallel assaults to clamp down on the opposition.
The President made an early instance out of Senator Leila de Lima, his fiercest critic who, as then-chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee, probed into the spate of extrajudicial killings occurring below Duterte’s bloody drug struggle simply months after he took workplace in 2016.
It got here with a hefty worth: Duterte allies within the Home turned the tables on De Lima and performed their probe into the alleged proliferation of medicine contained in the New Bilibid Jail when De Lima was justice secretary.
The Home probe spiraled right into a trial by publicity for De Lima, as lawmakers feasted on her alleged amorous affairs together with her former workers members. Ex-Home speaker Pantaleon Alvarez even thought of publicizing De Lima’s alleged intercourse video. It was by no means launched; its existence was by no means confirmed.
It wouldn’t take lengthy for the Division of Justice (DOJ) to later file drug complaints towards De Lima for supposedly receiving cash from convicts in trade for cover. She was arrested on February 24, 2017, and has stayed in jail ever since.
DUTERTE’S FIERCEST CRITIC. Senator Leila de Lima flashes ‘De Lima’ signal, an emblem of her defiance to the Duterte regime, as cops escort her to the resumption of her drug case listening to on the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court docket Department 256 on June 13, 2022. Photograph courtesy of De Lima’s workplace
The Duterte regime focused one other feminine critic months later – former Supreme Court docket chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who has clashed with Duterte a number of occasions.
Lawyer Larry Gadon filed an impeachment grievance towards Sereno within the Home, the place the hearings uncovered deep-seated grudges of a number of justices towards Sereno. The Home later voted to question her, however not earlier than Solicitor Basic Jose Calida filed an unprecedented quo warranto petition with the SC in search of to void her appointment as chief justice.
Sereno’s impeachment trial within the Senate by no means occurred, nonetheless, because the SC would later rule in favor of her ouster as chief justice in Could 2018.
That very same yr, Duterte himself shocked even his personal Cupboard when he issued Proclamation 572 to instantly revoke the amnesty granted to then-opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former insurgent soldier who led the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula incident in 2007 in the course of the Arroyo administration. Trillanes is one in all Duterte’s staunchest critics.
However in contrast to De Lima, Trillanes managed to evade arrest as his fellow senators supported him in difficult Duterte’s “unconstitutional” revocation of his amnesty.
This was all due to the shut relationships Trillanes constructed together with his colleagues since he turned a senator in 2007, coupled with the weak authorized foundation of Proclamation 572 and the general public backlash Duterte acquired on the time.
The Court docket of Appeals (CA) later sided with Trillanes. He ultimately gunned for a Senate comeback in 2022, however didn’t enter the Magic 12.
The Duterte authorities’s offensive towards the opposition didn’t finish there.
In 2019, the police filed complaints of inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, and obstruction of justice towards Robredo and 35 different key opposition figures and their workers, human rights attorneys, bishops and monks, and others over the viral movies of Peter Joemel Advincula, alias Bikoy, that linked Duterte and his household to the drug commerce. The DOJ let most of them off the hook however charged 11 of the respondents, together with Trillanes.
CRITICAL BISHOPS. Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr., Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco had been among the many 4 leaders of the Catholic Church that the Duterte authorities accused of sedition.
The President additionally went after former allies who put him or these near him on the recent seat.
Senator Richard Gordon took over the Senate probe into the drug struggle when De Lima was eliminated as committee chairperson, and he exonerated Duterte from any wrongdoing.
However years later, it was additionally Gordon who led the Senate investigation into the anomalies hounding the multi-billion pandemic contracts cornered by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Company, the largest corruption scandal to rock the Duterte presidency.
And for that, Gordon made himself an enemy of Duterte, who actively campaigned towards him within the run-up to the 2022 polls.
Gordon misplaced his reelection bid. His draft report recommending circumstances to be filed towards Duterte after his time period was not acted upon by the Senate as a result of his colleagues disagreed with the findings implicating Duterte within the Pharmally scandal.
Marcos’ ace and Leni’s NGO
Duterte nearly decimating the political opposition might be an ace for Marcos, who secured the primary presidential win by a majority vote because the cold 1986 EDSA Folks Energy Revolution that toppled his father.
With fewer folks within the opposition, Marcos can simply implement his insurance policies and move his pet payments in Congress. Most native officers have already pledged loyalty to him.
Marcos’ cousin, Leyte 1st District Consultant Martin Romualdez, is poised to turn out to be the subsequent Home Speaker, whereas his ally Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri is already a shoo-in for the Senate presidency.
“It advantages him as a result of he’ll be capable of consolidate Congress and native authorities to do no matter he desires, with little or no opposition, with none dissent,” mentioned La Viña. “Having no opposition means you’re comparatively free to pursue no matter you wish to pursue.”
SECOND CHANCE. The Marcos household, kicked in a foreign country in 1986, is again in energy. Photograph courtesy of Marcos’ workplace
All hope isn’t misplaced although. The problem is for a brand new opposition to rise below Marcos, one that’s not rooted within the liberals whom Filipinos have rejected previously three successive elections.
The coalition that Robredo fashioned within the 2022 marketing campaign could be a good start line, mentioned ASOG senior analysis fellow Michael Yusingco. Robredo’s 15 million was not sufficient to propel her to the presidency, however it’s nonetheless a crucial mass that may spearhead real political reforms.
Robredo supporters, who had been disheartened by the election outcomes, had been energized when she introduced that she might be launching the Angat Buhay non-government group, which she envisaged to be the “greatest volunteer motion” in Philippine historical past.
However Yusingco hopes it might transcend NGO work and lay down the inspiration wanted to spark a political motion, if not a brand new political occasion.
“Once I say it has to evolve right into a political occasion, I don’t essentially imply it has to compete in elections this early. What I imply is for the motion to fall into an institutional political construction in order that the younger folks on this motion can interact in politics,” Yusingco instructed Rappler. “I might hope that they’d take part in laws, in policy-making, in making their voices heard as a political occasion, not essentially as mere people or teams.”
‘PINK’ MOVEMENT IS ALIVE AND KICKING. Tens of hundreds nonetheless collect for the thanksgiving occasion of defeated presidential candidate and outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo in Quezon Metropolis on Could 13, 2022. Photograph courtesy of VP Leni Media Bureau
La Viña agrees, including that Robredo herself should play a vital position in creating this new political motion. The outgoing Vice President, nonetheless, has but to completely talk about what to anticipate in regards to the Angat Buhay NGO. She additionally plans to return to improvement work when she steps down from workplace.
However for now, a lot of these within the opposition maintain on to Robredo’s phrases when she accepted her electoral defeat – that the combat for good governance doesn’t finish in 2022. It has to go on, greater than ever now.
“Uulitin ko po: Walang nasayang. Hindi tayo nabigo. Masasayang lang ang ating pinagsikapan kung titigil tayo at babalik sa courting kalakaran. Gaya ng sabi ko: Ang namulat, hindi na muling mapipikit,” mentioned Robredo on Could 13. “Kaya tara na. Ituloy na natin ang laban para sa Pilipinas na ating mga pangarap.”
(Let me repeat: Nothing was wasted. We didn’t lose. All our efforts would solely go to waste if we cease now and return to our outdated methods. As I’ve mentioned: Those that have been woke up can not be blind. So come on. Allow us to proceed preventing for the Philippines we’re all dreaming of.) – MR