FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) - May 21, 2019 - 12:00am

Unless something truly dramatic happens, the proclamation of winning senators and party-list groups will happen today. That should close the chapter on the 2019 elections.

In the days following last week’s vote, leftist groups and their Liberal Party allies called for protest rallies. It was a vain attempt to discredit the electoral exercise and charge the political atmosphere. Fortunately for the nation, that failed.

The outcome of last week’s vote will not polarize the nation.

It did result in a rout for the self-designated “opposition.” From here on, they will lose their standing to claim to speak for the Filipino people. That should be a relief.

The communist party-list groups were not completely shut out. But they were seriously decimated.

Rather than indulge in black propaganda about the last election being a sham or smear the intelligence of our voters, the communist cadres in charge of these groups should undertake a serious assessment of how disconnected from the masses their rabble-rousing groups have become. The rebuke delivered by voters in the last poll is not isolated. It is a trend.

For years, the communist party-list groups have made a cottage industry out of capturing seats in Congress by mobilizing their command votes. The dysfunctional representatives installed by this method used their seats as platforms for worn-out demagoguery. On important state events, they paraded, so full of themselves, in finery that bore hand-painted slogans. Our voters are tired of their political vanity – and their utter obsolescence. 

The communist groups have made party-list representation an adjunct of their nationwide protest industry. Instead of useful legislation, they regularly produce sideshows. They rant and rail, pretty much about nothing in particular. They just want to keep government off kilter all the time and governance ineffectual.

 For its part, the Liberal Party’s ‘Otso’ campaign tried to win political power by peddling a fantasy. That campaign contrived the specter of looming dictatorship and presented its candidates as some sort of dragon-slayers who will stop the tyrant.

This was a campaign for the comic books.

Only the old oligarchy, the people from the gated communities and the gullible young voters from the campuses bought into that narrative. The greater number of hard-nosed Filipino voters rejected it.

Trying to soothe the disappointment of ‘Otso’ volunteers, Vice-President Leni Robredo told them the losing campaign planted “seeds” for the future. This is the first time elections have been compared to agriculture. At any rate, the results of this election tell us that yellow is not the color of the future.


Nor will the future belong to quixotic personalities of any persuasion.

The mass of our voters, in their collective genius, indicated their preference for electoral choices that will help make government work. Effective government is the only tool we have to achieve economic redemption for our people.

In the 2016 elections, voters looked at the then mayor of Davao City and saw a potential leader who was pragmatic, plainly spoken and, certainly, persuasive. They chose him to lead the nation.

In last week’s poll, we saw newcomers beat old political titans in many localities. A quick profiling of these newbie local executives tell us that voters prefer persons with managerial competence offering concrete solutions to practical problems.

Consider Isko Moreno in Manila, Francis Zamora in San Juan, Vico Sotto in Pasig and Benjie Magalong in Baguio. They came to their people with clear plans and a sense that they could deliver on the things that needed to be done. They overthrew entrenched politicians in dramatic upsets.

Moreno, Zamora, Sotto and Magalong are only the most visible ones. All over the nations, young politicians have won local contests on the possibility they can make things work and deliver modern governance.

In Palawan, a poor goat herder took on an entrenched political family – and won – simply on the possibility that there is a better way for the town to be run. In Pangasinan, the country’s youngest mayor was swept to office on the possibility he had the idealism and the energy to do things in a new way.

Beneath the flag-waving demagogues in the streets and the media-hogging politicians in the capital, there is a decisive current of practicality and pragmatism among our voters. They expect their local executives to be good managers of the community’s affairs. That, by itself, is a revolutionary thought.

True, coverage of the elections was filled with stories about policemen arresting people buying votes. The real story about these stories is that patrolmen are finally enforcing laws that have always been there.

This is what old school politicians of the ‘Otso’ campaign and the Old Left cadres used to managing command votes missed. They thought they could win over voters by peddling overly dramatic scenarios. Our voters simply wanted leaders who could make things work.

If people want to win elections in the future, they will be better off presenting our voters with a clear plan and preferably an exemplary management record. Demagogues and polarizing personalities are passé.

Remember that poll that showed the largest section of our citizens being open to some variant of autocratic rule?

That is simply one way of saying that our people want leaders who are practical and who can get things to work in whatever way pragmatism dictates. Our people are not impressed by the crybabies who think the human rights of criminals is more important than ensuring safe communities.

If Lee Kuan Yew stood as a candidate in Philippine elections today, he would most likely win.

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