With the COVID pandemic still in place, it is almost indecent to talk about the 2022 Philippine elections. But the incumbent administration’s tendency to play electoral politics at this point has pushed many of us to think ahead, and come up with scenarios that could help us rise above the feeling of hopelessness hanging above our heads.
It’s a no-brainer, but if one is a minimum wage earner, even the most lowly goods in the wet market are becoming unaffordable. A few bunches of pechay, string beans, one or two cuts of squash would set you back at least P200. A half kilo of pork or chicken? Forget it. We need to work for another week to buy those prime ingredients, stretching our already stretched budgets to the max.
So when one sees a streamer slogan or “karatola” urging Sara Duterte to run for the highest public post, one feels a wave of excruciating nausea. Nasusuka in the vernacular. We need vaccines, a solid healthcare plan, not the promises of a woman who goes by the name of Inday Sara. And before we can even think of voting for an ex-boxer or a presidential daughter—who has nothing presidential in her— we need first to get our act together in the most basic of public governance such as a doable and corrupt-free healthcare plan (the last requirement is almost an ideal).
With the recent the Supreme Court ruling on Marcos Junior, it is now clear to the incumbent administration that it must re-think its strategies. Maybe a slight turn to the ex-boxer who has loads of moolah but with meager political mettle to show? Moreover, the Duterte clan should think twice about realigning themselves with someone who hired an inept lawyer with the last name of Gadon who, time and again, has exhibited himself to be a legal joker, and not even a lightweight.
It could be that the Troll Machine is in overdrive, but one cannot rely on the promises of alternative worlds because our poor country exists in the realm of actual, hardcore realities. Troll farms have their limits and social media users have their own sources of information besides the mindless rants of Thinking Pinoy, Mocha for the Motherland, and other overpaid political influencers whose claims to political experience are anchored on their stash of selfies with fading ex-celebrities and their loose, shameless tongues.
The opposition is working to solidify their ground, and they have most of the goods on their side since the Fist Bump government has only fumbled from one crisis to another. From the failed War Drug, the appalling West Philippine Sea drama, the disastrous COVID response, PhiHealth billion-peso scandal and the Dolomite Debacle, among many other odious events, the opposition has it made for them for a bumper harvest election.
Fair warning, though. The opposition should not rely on the ineptitude of the Fist Bumpers to gain brownie points, because as La Imelda has succinctly said in an embarrassing documentary, perception is real, not truth. Take it from the Steel Butterfly, she knows her dirty politics, and thank heavens it’s a good thing that her son didn’t inherit even half of the Butterfly’s pug-nosed approach to politics.
What do we see in the opposition? Vice President Leni Robredo may not shine in the dubious surveys of late, but she’s firmly on track, and besides it is never infinite ambition that wins the day, but the determination and hard work of your grassroots supporters. So if Robredo has done her grassroots work, then it is only a matter of time for her to reap the fruits of her labors.
There are other personalities but we all know true gold from the 14-karats like The Yorme who seems to be going around with a price tag on his back. We don’t need another opportunist, Duterte-style, because the last six years were already proof of what we have become when we rely on blah-blah and dramatic pronouncements about jet-skiing and street-sweeping. The Yorme can be effective in cleaning up the sidewalks of Manila and cutting the ribbons for the newly restored The Met, but beyond that point there is not an ounce of presidential matter in him.
Grace Poe was once wildly touted as a contender, but again opportunism is hardly the name of the game. Movie family legacy aside, we have enough Korean dramas in our country for the next 100 years.
We can only thus direct our gaze to former Senator Antonion ‘Sonny’ Trillanes whose consistent record speaks for itself.
If the opposition needs political charm and clout to finish the job, it should be a Bicolano tandem that should clinch the day. Let’s move from the tepid, mosquito-plagued south to the central region of the Philippines, and maybe we can still hope that this country will move an inch from the edge of the abyss that it has found itself in the last five years.
I came from the Visayas, but I do have admiration for the Bicolanos who are known for their passion, creativity and natural flair. Filipino voters can be regionalistic and provincial, but for once let us elect leaders based on their integrity and track records, rather than promises of jet-skiing, kulambo-sleeping, and a heavy reliance on cash provided by the Chinese and the new oligarchs.
The next president should not win on muscle power, presidential endorsement, cash, celebrity flair and plain cheating. He or she should have a doable vision on a long list of pertinent issues that affect every present and future Filipino. We owe these future Filipinos a ballot that is not reflective of political greed or blind loyalty, but one that was made on the basis of social justice, equality, and the hard-earned lessons from our benighted history.
Joel Vega is a freelance editor who lives in Arnhem, The Netherlands. He is the author of the award-winning poetry collection ‘DRIFT’ published by the UST Publishing House.