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Opinion

An alternative to marching into certain ignoble defeat

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Men make last stands in the face of imminent defeat. The Spartans at Thermopylae, Custer at Little Big Horn, Del Pilar at Tirad Pass had no more option. The enemy was attacking in superior numbers, food and supplies had run out, no reinforcements were coming. Death was chosen over dishonor. But sometimes retreat is possible, even preferable. Tough leaders thence set the site and terms of next battles.

It is foolhardy for non-administration presidential candidates to make a last stand on May 9, 2022. Defeat is not imminent. By uniting behind only one of them, they can turn the tide of political battle. Coalescing now can snowball to victory. Any more delay makes that prospect slimmer.

Leni Robredo, Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno and Ping Lacson can take another try at consolidation. They may not have appreciated its cruciality in exploratory talks six months ago. But survey ratings since then consistently show them about to be overrun. The same numbers show that if they combine, their common choice among themselves can prevail. Staying fragmented will only end in frustration.

Their defeats will be ignoble. History will judge them for vainly clinging to personal ambition. Doy Laurel gave way to Cory Aquino in the 1986 snap presidential election; united, Cory became president and Doy as VP fulfilled one of his life goals – to serve as foreign minister. Filipinos memorialize Doy for his self-sacrifice.

This early, people are asking if the “presidentiables” love the country enough to make similar sacrifices. After all, their platforms complement in being pro-poor, reformist and patriotic. Coalescing can mean sharing their brilliant advisers and eventual Cabinet appointees. Continuing disunity can bring catastrophe. Surely they and their followers foresee that.

Under a false leader national sovereignty will be surrendered to China. Greed will be the creed. Partymates will resume their plunder. Cronies will take over state resources and public utility contracts. Provincial political dynasties will finish off what’s left.

The platforms of Robredo, Pacquiao, Moreno and Lacson will become pipe dreams. Filipinos will continue to suffer hunger, child malnutrition, learning inability, joblessness, homelessness, hopelessness.

The non-administration candidates endure the same difficulties in campaigning: insufficiency of funds, harassment by coopted election officers, excessive restrictions from partisan local authorities and more. The only things keeping their spirits up are enthusiasm of volunteers and attendees in their campaign sorties.

None of the four intends or has a history of buying votes. Each now refrains from bashing the others. At the back of their minds, they likely realize they may need to join forces. Although that may not solve their campaign woes, their common program of government will at least have a better fighting chance.

Their campaign strategists know each other. There is no shame in initiating talks to assess the political battlefield. Sincerity of purpose is always noble.

The Philippines is in a deep rut of poverty, injustice and foreign aggression. It will take two successive good presidents to pull out of it, analysts say. A common vision for those 12 years can be the take-off point for Robredo, Pacquiao, Moreno and Lacson to unite.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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