As we enter the final week of the campaign, it is important to look back at history’s valuable Marcos-related lesson: The Marcoses could be defeated. They’re not unbeatable.
We have done it twice in history. In 1986, after the dictator Marcos tried to tamper with the results of the “snap elections,” people rose in protest, overthrew him and directly installed the winner. We likewise beat back the dictator’s son in his 2016 campaign.
So if anyone tells you the Marcoses are unbeatable, you know what to say. They’ve been ousted and defeated, period.
The situation in 2022 however is more challenging and difficult to analyze and more so to settle. The dictator’s son has led all public-opinion polls, enjoys support from local governments, and tacit endorsement from outgoing president.
President Duterte coyly refuses to openly endorse Marcos. But he allowed his daughter to run as Marcos’ running mate, and likewise did not oppose his party’s endorsement of Marcos.
In reality though, Duterte had indirectly endorsed a second President Marcos as early as November 2016 when he bestowed the first President Marcos a hero’s burial. That act gave historical revisionism a legal basis, and a second President Marcos a political basis.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem is arguably part of the global wave of populists taking advantage of the failures and weaknesses of liberal democracy. The good news about the populist wave is that it has receded in many parts of the world by alliances of liberal-democrats and progressives.
Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan have earned the leadership of the opposition. They have attracted and mobilized a wide range of people, organizations and forces seeking to defeat Marcos and Duterte. They are obviously the envy of the other candidates.
Robredo and Pangilinan have roughly a week to put up a political infrastructure to get out the vote and ensure those votes are counted. In the absence of a viable party and of candidates at the local levels, that’s now their direct responsibility. This means building an army of organizers, lawyers, watchers and staff at the regional, provincial, municipal, district and barangay levels.
In areas where there are local Robredo People’s Councils, local sectoral organizations, and coalition partners like 1Sambayan, Makabayan, Akbayan, and others, they could play a key role in forming that political infrastructure. They have cooperated in the campaign. If they set aside red-tagging and fake news, they would be able to do it.
Many local candidates have until this week to finally decide on which national ticket to carry. What would Robredo and Pangilinan offer to local candidates to wean them away from Marcos-Duterte tandem which reportedly dangles them a lot of largesse for the next six years?
Robredo should also call for a meeting of presidential candidates to discuss safeguarding votes and thwarting fraud, and call on Duterte not to mobilize the machinery of government for or against any candidate.
The other factor are the supporters. They could and must do two things:
One, persist in organizing at the barangay level. We all vote at that level. Thus, house-to-house campaign should start in our own neighborhoods. We win the nation one barangay at a time.
Second, let’s help make sure the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem ends the campaign in a spectacular fashion. The power of gigantic and colorful rallies have dazzled the nation, and continue to shock candidates at all levels. The miting de avance must be most impressive.
One suggestion is for Robredo to call for nationally-coordinated miting de avance rallies in Metro Manila, remainder of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Yes, not just one. Maybe four simultaneous big rallies nationwide. It is not impossible to do, and it would be a magnificent way to cap the campaign.
Working families are eager to hear Robredo’s closing arguments and see her surrounded by the likes of Neri Colmenares, Elmer Labog and Sonny Matula. She should directly address their concerns: jobs, job security, wages, land reform, high prices, mass transport, health, and entrepreneurship. She should aim to be seen by the masses as more trustworthy than Marcos.
Robredo is ending the campaign with a lot of momentum and a new confidence. There’s a fighting chance if Robredo presents a winning closing argument; if more local candidates pick Robredo; if people are free to vote; and if there’s no Marcosian fraud, red-tagging, fake news or intimidation marring the elections.