Letters to the Editor

Critical grassroots politics

The Philippine Star

We cannot agree more with the opinion of many that 1Sambayan needs to have a consensual candidate for president to have a chance against the administration machinery. The opposition would be up against P4.1 trillion of unspent national budgets of 2020, Bayanihans 1 and 2, over which Congress rushed a law to allow its spending up to Dec. 31, 2021, or just four months before the 2022 general elections.

Populism in this country is a major factor in a presidential election, buttressed by matching entrenched patronage politics. We noted that the popularity of a leader, coming out of nowhere into national limelight, only happens in turbulent times, like 1) the EDSA Revolution that was triggered by the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino and catapulted a reluctant and ill-prepared president Cory Aquino; 2) the death of President Cory in a presidential election year, pushing to the presidential race her son, President PNoy Aquino; 3) the EDSA II upheaval unseating president Erap Estrada mid-term on corruption charges.

Mayor Duterte, on the other hand, comes from a rare kind of populism, built out of legendary homespun reputation of a no-nonsense, iron-fisted mayor of law and order, mercilessly fighting drug lords and crime syndicates, with many controversially ending in graveyards.

Social media was also the in thing then and widely used and maximized by his camp, patterned after the strategy used to catapult Barack Obama to the US presidency. His so-called media trolls were as merciless on anyone crossing their idol’s path, even to this very day.

Under normal elections, populism needs to be coupled with grassroots spadework in organizing well ahead of time, and such definitely needs sufficient war chest support. Gut issues confront every presidential candidate who forays into and campaigns in the provincial areas. These issues are what preoccupy the efforts of local candidates to woo voters and get elected.

It will take hard grassroots work in this presidential election for 1Sambayan to succeed. Unfortunately, with our kind of electorate at present, 2022 might not be the presidential election yet for any meaningful dialogue on ideal platforms of government, such as what 1Sambayan offers. Grassroots work should have been started at least a year ago.

It’s never too late to strategize and electrify the country in the little time left before Dec. 31, 2021, despite the odds up ahead. The bulk of the electorate hasn’t reached that maturity against herd mentality; political dynastic and feudal-like still rule the day, except in the highly urbanized centers. But who knows, you can never tell what destiny awaits 1Sambayan.  – Marvel K. Tan, [email protected]



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