Eight months before politicos troop to the Commission on Elections to file their certificates of candidacy, subtle political movements are slowly surfacing.
In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte has allowed the use of her voice in pre-taped COVID-19 warnings urging people to follow basic health protocols. Her messages are carried by transports roaming the city daily. Some of the vehicles have the look-alikes of Sara and Manny Pacquiao. While these are deemed trivial, the subliminal agenda behind these is clear.
Pundits see the pairing, though, as ‘deficient’ for two reasons: first, both personalities come from Mindanao and, second, there’s a growing anti-Duterte sentiment in the National Capital Region that can create a dint in the Duterte popularity.
Unfairly clustered as ‘dilawan,’ the opposition has also started to mend their fences. Recently, former vice president Jejomar Binay’s United National Alliance (UNA) has brought to its inner circle new profiles that hopefully, with honesty on their coattails, can rebrand, refix, and revise the bloc which was associated with scandals in the past.
So far, the most significant recruit is Jesus ‘Clint’ Aranas, a no-nonsense lawyer, tax expert , and self-made millionaire who served the Duterte admin as BIR deputy commissioner for legal affairs and GSIS president-general manager. He left government service after finding his turfs were proverbial snake pits.
The rumor the Binay patriarch is giving the presidency another shot has also started to float following Aranas’ recruitment. But at age 80 in 2022, Jejomar’s age can be a drawback. Another option is to adopt a credible person outside the Duterte government or a senator whose integrity, performance, and consistency are impeccable.
On its own, the UNA cannot catapult its political agenda to victory. An alliance with other opposition blocs, notably Liberal Party, Nacionalista, Masang Pilipino, and Lakas-UMDP can provide better results. But the first thing that must resolve is to ensure the alliance works and everybody agrees on the proposed key candidates.
The opposition’s journey to regain its visibly tattered image is not just about trouncing the Duterte juggernaut. A crucial aspect of winning is to introduce strategies that convincingly discredit the credibility of the present leadership on the campaign trail.
For a united opposition to wrest the presidency, their planners should be aggressive and efficient in documenting the blunders of the Duterte leadership. With its high survey ratings, the Duterte bloc can overrun the resisters if the other side of fence adopts campaign schemes with predictable tactics and enlists the same corrupt political butterflies.
With the Comelec pushing for a ban on ‘face to face’ campaign in 2022, suddenly the playing field has become muddled with possible disinformation.