#OPINION | Should the opposition be united?

by Joshua Viloria

Cover Art by Czes Torres

The 2022 National Elections season has begun — candidates have been filing left and right, declaring their promises to help the Filipino people. But what if there are too many candidates for our own good?

As of now, announcements have sprung up about the candidacies of Bongbong Marcos, Leni Robredo, Ka Leody de Guzman, Isko Moreno, and the like. These aspirants have shown who they are and what they are fighting for, thus falling into two categories: the elite and the opposition.

Filipinos are familiar with the power play that led to the abuse and corruption in our government; the Marcos dictatorship and Martial Law is a prime example. Candidates that are in support of these endeavors can arguably be tagged as the elites. On the other hand, those that force themselves against the current administration are called the opposition. Lately, the candidates for the opposition have been standing for the people with the hopes to restore the voice of the masses within the government. Their ideologies, promises, and platforms warrant their position within the opposition.

Consider this — who among the candidates fall into each category? We have Bongbong Marcos who is part of the elite, with associates such as Ronald Bato dela Rosa and Manny Pacquiao. On the other hand, numerous candidates have applied to be for the people, including Leni Robredo, Ka Leody de Guzman, as well as lesser known names such as Antonio Valdes and Roosevelt Sta. Maria.

Wouldn’t it be better for the Philippines to have a united opposition amidst the current political climate?

Politics in the Philippines has cultivated a polylithic opposition with monolithic candidates. A polylithic opposition is defined as a group of people that are not united, and stand for different platforms, however they are monolithic in the sense that they are all on the same side — the opposition, representatives of the people.

Take for example Leni Robredo’s plans for her presidency: the “anti-democratic, anti-rights, corrupt, and self-serving government” created by Duterte should be abolished. However, Ka Leody de Guzman, who represents the laborers of the masses, believes that the candidates for the people have been long divided, and that the Filipinos deserve a candidate that stands by changing the abusive system. Opinions from these sides do not clash whatsoever; in fact, they are both fighting for the same thing, yet it seems that they are also battling each other.

The problem with a polylithic opposition is that these candidates lose their vision to fight for the people and fight other candidates with ad hominem attacks instead. A video of Isko Moreno has been circulating about his unadulterated thoughts on Leni Robredo and her candidacy. People have been comparing this fiasco with Rodrigo Duterte attacking Grace Poe in 2016. Both of these cases are disrespectful, and they implicate rivalry between opposing parties, insinuating that there is a secondary fight these candidates are distracted with.

A plausible reason for why the united opposition is not in place yet is the comparisons being made between the candidates. An instance is the misogyny thrown among the presidentiables, especially to Leni Robredo. Ping Lacson implied that Robredo only had a good heart, and Philip Lustre attacked Leni, calling her palpak. Male candidates had close-to-no criticism for their actions, yet Robredo is being compared to female forerunners, such as Cory Aquino, creating a dichotomy that all women are “weak leaders.”

Subsequently, their educational backgrounds and achievements are also used as weapons to fight the other candidates’ credibility. The infamous Leni Robredo flunking the bar exam is a case pitched around to tarnish the candidate’s integrity. Situations that forge internal conflict within the opposition also affect the candidates’ abilities to create sound decisions involving their co-candidates.

Leni Robredo created a senatorial slate to “unify” the opposition by selecting her picks for senator. Although it is a start to creating a more monolithic party, it seems to be counter-intuitive to single out candidates to create a “unified” opposition, rather than endorsing the different candidates that stand with her. Ka Leody de Guzman was willing to drop his candidacy had he talked to Robredo, yet he was not included in the unity talks. Complications similar to these situations hinder possible unification under one party.

Consequently, Ka Leody de Guzman’s candidacy presents a problem for the opposition. Realistically, an unpopular candidate may not be the best option to fight the elite. The case of Rodrigo Duterte against opposing parties in 2016 may be used to compare the two situations. Duterte garnered 38.6% of the total votes. On the other hand, Mar Roxas, Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago gathered 23.4%, 21.6%, and 3.4% of the votes respectively. If these three candidates (who had similar platforms and ideologies) united as one, they would’ve won with 48.4% of the votes, give-or-take. If the same thing happens during the 2022 Presidential Elections, the elite would win once again.

Imagine an opposition with a sole candidate fighting for the rights of those without a voice. Wouldn’t it be more convenient both for the Filipino people and the candidates themselves? There wouldn’t be any confusion on the voters’ side, and the candidates would be able to focus on campaigning for what they believe is right. The opposing side would be able to collect votes for a single candidate to fight against the powerful elite. This is the true “for the people” that the masses have been fighting for.

The voice of the people is amplified by those who fight for them, but we only get one vote. The unification of the opposition, together with the voice of the mass would be the key to abolishing a voiceless governance.

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The Science Scholar

The Science Scholar

The official English publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus. Views are representative of the entire paper.