Monday, August 19, 2019

Abellanosa: Ocho Derecho

Fringes and frontiers

OCHO Derecho candidates have lost. That is the reality and we cannot do anything about that. It’s just a matter of days and we will have a Senate broadly composed of pro-administration politicians.

Whether this election result speaks of our goodness as a people is something not easy to say. I also would not automatically agree that the country’s moral standard is dead just because none from Ocho Derecho won. They may represent us politically, however, there is so much goodness in this country that cannot just be abbreviated by traditional or dirty politicians.

The closer thing I believe in, though, is the fact that there are enduring elements in Philippine political dynamics, and a number are mostly negative. Some observers attributed the loss of the Ocho Derecho to their lack of strategy. Others say that it’s because they are critics of the president and unfortunately the president has the support of the masses. All these reasons may be correct but one need not agree to them.

I would rather attribute their loss to the “fluid” nature of Philippine politics. We have never lived and breathed politics in terms of partisan ideology. The cult of personalities is still very much alive. Everything is interpreted like a drama. People have been made to “feel” that this is the best time for the elites to be vanquished. For those who are against Ocho Derecho, the likes of Bam Aquino represent the landed class while the likes of Pilo Hilbay and Chel Diokno represent the intellectual elite whose fluency in English is useless to the hungry and naked poor.

These things are not new. This was Erap’s refrain only that he was not able to maintain his “imaging strategy.” That the Ocho Derecho lost because they are out of touch with the people’s needs and realities is a tempting interpretation to believe in. One columnist argued, adding insult to injury – that the Ocho Derecho lost because they are “hambugero.” Sounds convincing but not really. Seriously, such a claim is a powerful rhetoric but analytically lacking in depth.

It is understandable of course when observers nowadays would become selective in their reading of things. There are many analyses as there are analysts, and in all honesty, the interpretation would depend on the social and political location of the interpreter. The problem with some analyses is that they disregard the reality of vote buying, concessions in the localities, and the new oligarchy that this administration is creating.

Pro-Duterte commentators deliberately disregard the fact that administration bets are equally guilty of the same elitism. If Bong Go does not belong to the elite then where does he? Bato de la Rosa may be apparently new in Senate but I doubt if he does not know how to pull the ropes in Philippine politics. Tell it to the marines if you would still believe that Bato has an immaculate perception of politics. And then there is that argument that the defeat of the Ocho Derecho is a loud protest against the hypocrisy of the previous administration. But isn’t hypocrisy a fundamental element in politics?


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