Political long game  

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

Somebody has said this, “Politics is a long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And I agree. This has always been the fault of our political system --parties are formed, alliances are built for convenience. They are mainly done for the sake of winning elections and keeping power.

Winning elections is important. But if electoral victories are made from political marriage of convenience, backroom deals, and money changing hands, the result is an exceptionally weak political system unable to withstand foreign influence and geopolitical pressures.

This has been the case in the Philippines since its independence after the war. Those with a modicum of principle are outwitted and outgunned by political butterflies and chameleons. Our history is replete with prominent examples.

Pedro Paterno played in both camps during the revolution against Spain, conveniently switching sides depending on the prevailing political winds. He was that character portrayed in the 2015 film ‘Heneral Luna’ who argued in the Aguinaldo Cabinet for an alliance with the Americans, thus effectively stalling General Antonio Luna’s strategy of pre-emptively striking Intramuros while the bulk of the American forces were yet to land in Manila, and likewise the strategy of building fortifications in the mountainous north.

Ferdinand Marcos switched from the Liberal Party to the Nacionalista Party in the 1965 presidential election. Those were the times we effectively had a two-party system. Marcos’ reason was that his erstwhile party mate and then president Diosdado Macapagal supposedly reneged on his promise not to seek a second term. There are plenty more examples that I could not mention due to lack of space.

The point is our politics in the Philippines has largely been built around the self-interest of people recognized as leaders by their respective communities and by society at large. There are a few exceptions but they are too few to make an impact.

Leftists argue that one of the roots of our problem is foreign domination. I say no --the cause of our problem is that most of our leaders take advantage of the fact that many of our voters fall for wit and cunning. Add to that our corrupted sense of entitlement and a lack of sense of what is just and fair, it then becomes a perfect recipe for foreign manipulation and domination.

That’s the reason why I am inspired by the movement built around the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo. It’s not a flawless coalition but many Filipinos are looking to Robredo’s track record and integrity as a source of hope for long game politics. A politics that this built of grassroots work painstakingly and consistently done over a long period.

The forces of former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte are counting their eggs because they are already sure of winning the May 9 presidential election. “Daog na! Daog na!” was the shout during their rally at a three-hectare property in SRP this week that drew a large crowd made way larger by police and partisan guesstimates.

Thursday night I was with my wife (an avid Kakampink) at the campaign rally of Robredo and her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan. People gathered at the five-hectare venue in Mandaue City (with many more spilling into streets and center island) were also shouting “Daog na! Daog na!”

I like Robredo’s reaction when she said to this effect, “Sure ba kayo? May labing anim na araw pang natitira sa kampanya. Kailangan pa nating magpursige.” No politician of consequence in Cebu, except for Vice Governor Hilario Davide III and former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña, is openly endorsing Robredo’s candidacy. So she has been asking the people directly to make her win again in Cebu.

If Robredo wins this May 9 election, it might not put an end to the politics of convenience that has dominated our country for a long time, but I believe it can be the start of a movement toward a mature political system. One that is built based on our core belief as Filipinos and on what I said earlier -- grassroots work painstakingly and consistently done over a long period.

Hopefully those gathered at the Kakampink rally last Thursday take time to learn the lessons of EDSA 1986. Thirty six years ago we did put an end to a kleptocratic dictatorship, but we just went on with our lives and simply left the post-EDSA governance and its hero Cory Aquino at the mercy of political opportunists and chameleons.


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