What the 2004 and 2010 presidential elections should teach us

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

When President Ferdinand Marcos organized the KBL or the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan in 1978, he "killed" both the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party. Looking back, Quezon ran under NP when he was opposed by only Aguinaldo. When Osmeña ran as NP, he was only challenged by Manuel Roxas, LP. Then Roxas died in office. When Quirino ran as LP, he was defeated by Ramon Magsaysay, NP. Then Magsaysay died in office. When Garcia ran as NP, he was opposed by President Diosdado Macapagal, an LP. When Macapagal ran for reelection, Marcos, an NP, won. The rest is history. But there were only two parties; NP and LP.

Before Marcos became president, he started as a LP congressman in the ‘50s and senator in the ‘60s. He became disgruntled with LP after Macapagal reneged on his promise not to run for reelection in 1965. Marcos left the LP and joined the NP, then pushed aside Fernando Lopez and became the official candidate, challenging Macapagal. When he declared martial law, he formed the KBL, which practically lorded all over, sans any challenger, except Pusyon Bisaya based in Central Visayas. After Marcos was ousted, political parties mushroomed: UNIDO, LDP, PDP, Laban, Lakas, NUCD, PMP, PRP, among others. This gives rise to multiple candidates for president. In the Philippines any Tomas, Dikoy, and Julio can create any party without any ideology or principle, just personality. Today, the NP is dominated by the Villars, and the LP is identified with Aquino adherents and their allies.

In 2022, we are bound to elect a minority president again with only a plurality of the total votes cast. This is bound to happen if all of the following will run: Sara Duterte Carpio, Manny Pacquiao, Bongbong Marcos, Bong Go, Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, Grace Poe, and Sonny Trillanes. That will be a reenactment of 2004 when five major presidential bets ran, and the 2010 polls that saw six candidates. Both winners got less than half of the votes cast. We were led by minority leaders, GMA in 2004 (39.99%), and PNoy in 2010 (42.08%). In 2004, GMA got 12,905,808 (39.99%) against Fernando Poe's 11,782,232 (36.51%), Lacson's 3,510,080 (10.88%), Raul Roco's 2,082,762 (6.45%), and Eddie Villanueva's 1,988,216 (6.16%).

Incidentally, 2004 was also the year when the US held its presidential elections. There were only two parties competing as usual. The Democrats are dominated by the labor sectors, middle class, professionals, trade unions, immigrants, people of color, students, veterans, and human rights activists. The Republicans are the parties of the business moguls, magnates, tycoons, bankers, investors, estate owners, and traditional religious leaders. In 2004, Texas oil and gas mogul George W. Bush (the son) won with 62,040,610 (50.7%) in popular votes, 286 electoral votes, over Democrat John Kerry from Massachusetts with 59,028,444 and 251 electoral votes.

In 2010, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III got 15,208,678 (42.08%) against Erap Estrada's 9,487,837 (26.25%), Manny Villar's 5,573,835 (15.42%), Gibo Teodoro's 4,095,839 (11.31%), Eddie Villanueva's 1,125,879, and Richard Gordon's 501,727. PNoy got the landslide votes from the Visayan regions, as well as Bicol, Southern Tagalog, and Northern Mindanao. Erap dominated Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Central and Southern Mindanao. Too many candidates prevent a single candidate from becoming the controlling and dominating figure. The multiplicity of candidates isn’t good for democracy. It’s pushing the nation to be led by a minority leader, and without a majority mandate, such a leader cannot effectively rally people around a cause with optimum impact and results.

In the coming elections, if the opposition cannot shape up and unite, they will be eaten alive by the party in power. That’s why they need to get their act together and put one strong candidate to face the administration. Also, the ruling PDP-Laban party should resolve their infighting and reconcile the warring factions within. The enemy will always divide and conquer. The party that allows itself to fall into this trap is bound to bite the dust after the polls of 2022. Those who refuse to heed the lessons of the painful past are bound to suffer from them again.

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