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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Jedi, prepare for our return

By: Solita Collas-Monsod – @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer /May 14, 2022

Stop mopping the floor with your faces, Reader, Digital Warriors, volunteers. There’s work to be done, if we are to get our country back. The first order of business is to get involved in our barangay elections (BE) in December. We need to get involved—as campaigners, as volunteers, and, more importantly, as candidates (especially the youth from the poor).

The barangays are slim pickings, you say? I invite you to read the works of the late Manny Valdehuesa on the subject (I only found out this morning that he passed away last August). Google him, please. Manny was the founder of the Gising Barangay Movement. And armed with this information, we can get to work. Let’s not waste the energy, especially the youth’s, that was generated and inspired by the Leni Robredo campaign.

It goes without saying that this effort goes hand in hand with the ongoing Let Women Lead campaign (letwomenlead.org).

So you want to look back first? Certainly. Our defeat offers three valuable lessons (following Fr. Tito Caluag’s homilies which always have three reflection points). Part of the learning process which we will be foolish not to take seriously. What did we learn? My take:

Our experience is like a reprise from Star Wars’ “The Empire Strikes Back.” Remember the last six years, when some political dynasties suffered defeats? The Estradas as a prime example. Well, the dynasties have made a come back, the empire really struck back. The much vaunted unity being bruited about in the Marcos-Duterte campaign was not of the people, but of the dynasties—Marcos-Romualdez, Estrada, Arroyo, Garcia, Revilla, etc., etc.—who were aware that a Robredo victory would deal a telling blow, maybe even a death one, to the dynasties which have been at the root of all the corruption and mismanagement in the Philippine government.

And they have succeeded in spades, in a comeback. We now have in the Senate two Villars, two Cayetanos, two Estradas, plus Zubiri, to add to the Angara, Revilla, and Binay already there (Jojo B would have made it to the Senate, but I guess the Marcoses cannot forget that he was once a freedom-fighter against the Marcos dictatorship).

So, following the Star Wars epic, it is now time for the “Return of the Jedi” (that’s us). We might also be reminded that between “The Empire Strikes Back” and the “Return of the Jedi,” it took three years. It is not going to be a picnic.

Which brings us to the second valuable lesson: The Marcos camp started its campaign for the hearts and minds of the Filipino people through social media way back in 2014. Leni stopped them in 2016, but alas, failed to do so in 2022. Maria Ressa’s Rappler (of which I am proudly a board member) actually shouted this out in 2019, or more than two years ago, in a three-part report—“How the Marcoses are using social media to reclaim Malacañang,” “How the Marcoses are rewriting history,” and “False narratives from the Marcos arsenal.” All backed by hard evidence.

So what’s the second lesson here? Actually this second lesson has two parts: One is that we have to start long-term planning now, starting with the BE, the second is that we have to learn to read the signs—or rather, pay more attention to Rappler.

And finally, there is the third lesson: We cannot let our guard down. We have to remain vigilant, which implies that we have to learn to do more than one thing at a time (this is a breeze for women). We cannot just concentrate on the BE.

Gerald Ford, the former US vice president and president, was said to have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time. We cannot afford to do a Gerald Ford. That is why, with all due respect to my colleague, Ciel Habito, who entertains the hope that Mr. Marcos may show us all that he is a transformative leader, I say: Don’t hold your breath. I’ve another colleague who insists (with basis) that past behavior predicts future behavior. And Marcos Jr.’s past behavior does not augur very well for our future.

Who do you suppose will end up paying for the enormous sums of money spent on the six-year social media campaign of Marcos Jr.? And for the transactional politics that convinced so many governors, mayors, and the like, to support him? Unlike our D and E voters, who were ill-informed but sincerely motivated and should not be blamed (e.g. Filipinos are “bobo”), these politicians were motivated by greed and self-preservation. Do you think Marcos Jr. will not want a return on his ill-gotten investments?

Jedi, prepare for our return.

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