LAST week, I asked readers for their thoughts on why for the first time since our independence we have such a pathetic group of puny politicians or would-be politicians for an opposition. Here are some of their responses:
“It’s our broken system. Our bastardized American presidential system depends on personalities and candidates’ individual traits. I say bastardized because we eliminated the proper check and balance that makes the American system work such as the Electoral College and the vice president being voted together with the president.
“We have to change our system to a parliamentary (ideally Westminster-type of parliamentary) system so we can shift our focus from the candidate’s personality and charisma to the political party’s agenda. Our current presidential system breeds and nurtures nincompoops. Our current politicians have free rein to muddle the issues in the media without being challenged while in the parliamentary system, politicians have to clash every week in parliamentary debates, thus frequently exposing who’s a fool and who’s bright. In the parliamentary system, erring leaders could easily be replaced via a vote of no-confidence, and good leaders can be reelected indefinitely. Look at Angela Merkel.
“Our presidential system requires a divisive, tedious and expensive impeachment process to remove a bad leader and deprives us of continuity of good policies by limiting a good leader with term limits. It’s been more than 30 years since we’ve been trying to make this broken system work to no avail. It’s been more than 30 years since we keep on saying ‘Vote wisely’ and we still cannot find Mr./Mrs. Wisely. It’s in our system, sir, we have to change it.” – B.R.
“The quagmire that the opposition is in right now only goes to show the kind of leaders that we’ve had for the past few decades. They are only reaping what they have sown. On the other hand, I can’t help but credit them, especially Noynoy for Duterte. I mean I hated how inutile that guy was when he was president but if not for him, Duterte would not have been catapulted to the highest office. The Filipinos could have just settled for another president from a celebrated family of oligarchs after him. If not for his epic fuck-ups that jolted us, the Filipinos could have just remained stuck in la la land and that EDSA illusion.” – Homer E.
“In the beginning the powerhouse of the Yellows was supposed to be De Lima, Trillanes and Robredo. They were hoping to drive out the Pres, with fake news and phony accusations. But through their own stupidity and their own lies, this backfired on them. The public is awake to the fakeness of the lie and cheat methods of the Yellows. And then the Yellows lost the most valuable piece – the spin doctors of ABS-CBN.
“Duterte is a clever man (or has good advisers). He beat the Yellows at their own game, without ever being part of it.
“The opposition dissolved because the normal protective layer of lies, puff pieces in invented controversy were peeled back, exposing a hollow and dishonest cavity.” – Ross H.
“Just 2 points I’d like to raise, the 2 albeit not directly related, might still be related.
“1. Yellows and reds share a fatal flaw; they both think they are infallible thus they insist on imposing their “righteousness” on our people. Call it intellectual hubris or plain dumbing down our people but the end result is the same, they are intractable recalcitrants! Redundant as that may sound it is that same common flaw that also renders them incapable of uniting behind a single figure. They shoot themselves in the same foot with the same bullet.
“2. If Victor Corpus is to be believed as I am convinced he is, Ninoy and Joma were directly responsible for the Plaza Miranda bombing. Given this information, Cory’s move of releasing Joma and company from prison, one of her immediate actions as the new revolutionary president, now makes perfect sense. This concealed treachery is so heinous that perhaps God allowed her son to redeem their sins through another presidency. PNoy failing miserably, God’s perfect justice or ‘karma’ has finally taken its course. The once powerful and mighty Liberal Party is now merely a clutch of political shadows persisting in their tired siren songs.
“All my adult life I have been greatly disappointed at our parade of traditional presidents but with Duterte I can finally see the end of our tunnel. I can see hope for our youth and for the first time in my life I’m happy to be a witness to his historic administration, happy for our country. I can finally die with a smile on my face.” – Bobby M.
“Yesterday I had this conversation with a friend and our topic was also about the state of the “opposition” of this country, we always agreed that they are an important part of our democracy, but it seems they are disconnected with reality, content with offering band-aid solutions instead of great reforms to take this country from its current state into a 1st world country. They love ‘playing safe’ and because of that they end up looking unappealing and an ‘insult’ to any educated Filipino. I blame this unchangeable and wordy Cory constitution we have for producing a weak and disconnected opposition who look much more interested in their political survival rather than the national interest.” – Prince A.
“1. I fully agree that criticisms of President Duterte as an authoritarian are misplaced. These critics should experience living under a real authoritarian state and realize how liberal (in the classic definition of the word) Duterte actually is.
“Contrary to what some critics imply, passing political DNA to a successor is not a symptom or trait of authoritarianism. Maybe they are just envious of the fact that Duterte’s survey ratings remain high even towards the end of his term, a feat not done by any other president post-EDSA I. Such high approval ratings indicate that the Filipino people want continuity of policy and more of the same style of governance. That is by no means authoritarian.
“2. I also find funny the internet ads of Lacson depicted in his police uniform. But a complaint of usurpation of authority would not hold water. His campaign can just claim that they’re publishing an old photo of the former PNP chief.
“3. If rumors are to be believed, Sara D. Carpio and her father will not both run in the same election. They don’t want to serve in government at the same time due to personal reasons. SDC-BBM vs Bong Go-Rodrigo Duterte is a funny joke, and if it comes to that, we all know that both Dutertes would win.
“4. You have compared the deaths in the US, India and Brazil to deaths in socialist-authoritarian countries and surmised that maybe democracy isn’t such a big deal. Personally, I agree – Churchill once said that the best argument against democracy is a ten-minute chat with the average voter. However, if you ask Americans, a “freedom-loving” people, they would rather live in a free country even if it had a lot of Covid deaths, than in a restrictive communist country with fewer deaths. They then would lecture you that life is supposed to be lived, etc., and perhaps shout the revolutionary slogan ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’
“5. I think that our opposition politicians look especially pathetic and puny because Duterte entered national politics. The populace eventually became enamored with Duterte and admired that he is a conviction politician, and not a fair-weather or a consensus politician, as Thatcher put it. Duterte so outshone the other politicians in our country that they look pale in comparison to his brilliance. It is like tasting a glass of good wine – afterwards all the cheap wine does not taste as good anymore.
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not one to monotonically extol and worship the President, as the so-called DDS sometimes do. It is certainly lamentable that the opposition politicians are weak, ineffective and pusillanimous. The Duterte administration, and the country at large, would surely benefit from constructive opposition weeding out the bad apples in the Cabinet and in national policy.” – Hanz T.