To avoid the fate of Otso Diretso, 1Sambayan must go beyond being anti-Duterte

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
To avoid the fate of Otso Diretso, 1Sambayan must go beyond being anti-Duterte
Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosaio, retired high court magistrate Antonio Carpio and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales are conveners of 1Sambayan, a coalition looking to endorse a unified slate of opposition candidates for 2022, hold a hybrid media event on March 18, 2021.

MANILA, Philippines — The force that binds the rather unlikely allies within opposition coalition 1Sambayan is their resistance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and policies.

Their being anti-Duterte, however, could lead them to the same path Otso Diretso took in the 2019 elections, where they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of candidates aligned with the current administration.

UP political science professor Rogelio Alicor Panao told Philstar.com in an email that solely being anti-Duterte “seems like either being shortsighted, or lacking a long term coherent platform.”

“As a voter, my ideal national candidates would be those who have plans for the nation that go beyond being anti-Duterte,” Panao said.

Aside from ensuring that their fledgling coalition remains united throughout the election season, 1Sambayan must learn from the loss of Otso Diretso, particularly on how it delivered its message on the campaign trail.

“The obvious lesson from then was that the Otso Diretso campaigned on a message that was really about opposing President Duterte. President Duterte did not run. Again, this would be the same scenario in the next elections,” professor Herman Kraft, chair of the University of the Philippines’ political science department, told Philstar.com.

‘Short-term goal’

“Criticizing President Duterte isn’t actually going to be helpful in a campaign where President Duterte is not running,” Kraft added.

Panao echoed this in an email exchange with Philstar.com, saying that Otso Diretso failed as it was “preoccupied with the short term goal of defeating Duterte’s candidates.”

This preoccupation, he said, made the Liberal Party-led senatorial slate miss the chance to convince the public that they have concrete, corrective policy alternatives and that they were the right people for the job.

Kraft said that beyond being anti-Duterte, 1Sambayan should be able to articulate what it could offer better than the current administration.

But even that, he admitted, may be easier said than done, as the broad coalition of opposition forces spanning the left and right of the political spectrum would have to agree on a common set of policies.

It was also the bickering within the opposition that led to the downfall of Otso Diretso, something which 1Sambayan seeks to prevent by unifying all groups and personalities against the Duterte administration.

But whether this coalition would be able to stick together despite their differences and succeed in toppling Duterte’s anointed successor in the coming elections remains to be seen.


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