THE key words of the campaign are: culture of impunity, hate and anger. Platforms used are local and international media as well as the drilling effect of social media. That a culture was built overnight (because it has been 10 months only) was surprising, but that is what one gets when the oppositors (they put opposition in a bad light) are loaded, well-connected and consistent. And yes, despite elections being over and a winner declared by Congress, a campaign rages to unseat a duly elected President because of alleged sins of the past, constituting 22 years of being mayor.
The presidential campaign of 2016 came as a realization and a shock to the country’s ruling economic and political elites. Economic, because Duterte can’t be controlled, and political, because he will change the status quo. The BSA3 and Liberal Party formula was to jail, impeach and file cases against those who would not go with them at the start. In the vernacular, sampolan nyo. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was arrested for so many cases that came late in the day. The mantra was arrest her and jail her and we think of 8 to 9 cases from PCSO to electoral fraud, etc. Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was threatened with impeachment and resigned. When the operation to secure impeachment was uncovered, Napoles came in to save the day for the Aquino administration. And names included in the Napoles list were controlled.
The Liberal Party and some Cabinet members forming the inner core, learned a thing or two from Marcos and Arroyo. They dished out the dossiers of legislators and controlled them to the end. Those who did not want to be included in the public shame campaign, towed the line. Others had to clench their fists, muttering, may araw rin kayo.
Two years near 2016, the directive was launched to hit, damage and weaken the leading declared candidate for 2016 so that their presumptive candidate can be strong and competitive in the 90-day campaign. Doing the task for them were Pimentel (now Senate President), Cayetano (the other half of the Duterte ticket) and Trillanes (the designated Pambansang Handler who continues to tax the patience of the public). Control at the start and control at the end. In fact, the campaign of the Liberal Party in 2016 was tied with the legacy of BSA3, Tuwid na Daan. The political marketing plan was simple. Attach “Tuwid na Daan” and the candidates will win hands down because of the “accomplishments of the Aquino II administration.” Besides, oodles and oodles of money had been used to prop it up. The LP presidential and vice-presidential candidates had the same political nicknames, which COMELEC allowed. You guessed it right, Tuwid na Daan. And all monies and machinery of government were used to ensure victory, only to be defeated by a Duterte, a mayor, from Mindanao and without the huge war chest of the candidate of Aquino. It was shocking to say the least, when they controlled all the levers for victory but forgot the electorate.
When they realized the overwhelming wind that was coming, they again dispatched Trillanes in the last week of the campaign period, to hit, without let-up, candidate Duterte. Trillanes did not use the killings in Davao narrative, he chose the hidden wealth (taking a leaf from the destroy-Corona plan) card and went to town. He was not able to deliver, and therefore promised to get Duterte, win or lose. With money, media and legislative glare, Trillanes launched his termite-like offensive. Gnawing at the base, he tries to weaken the foundations, aiming for a legislative coup, impeaching the duly elected President. The timelines were laid out clearly. Everything uniting to that one single moment of our Camelot, EDSA. If things do not work out, there is a year in office (May), second SONA (July) and the politically charged months of August and September.
The other cards are De Lima (not political but violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The HRW and ICC have their own processes that no Trillanes can mess around with. But it completes the narrative of having a “killer, lunatic and corrupt President.” Indeed, the coup provocateur has shifted to a most rewarding profession: handler of termites who will weaken the base, provider of protective cover to the termites (praetorian guard par excellence), media operator and paid political assassin. The hope of everyone is for Mr. Trillanes to inform the public about his 16 trips to China (no paper trail and no immigration stamps). That is being transparent and accountable. Interestingly, what led to the change in Trillanes’ position since March 9, 2009 to September 2012? Was Trillanes the back door of BSA3 to China? Was it his “Russian roulette” equivalent to a good retirement befitting a career of destroying buildings and institutions?
Yes, it is true that doing 100 percent in the fight against illegal drugs is crucial. It highlights what has not been done for the past six years; it contrasts PRRD from BSA3, especially on narco politics and fundraising for political ends. But these contrasts are marginalized since PRRD, day in and day out, speaks of only a single issue with passion and resolve: battling the drug menace. The more he talks of Tokhang and Double Barrel, the more impunity, hate and anger are lighted up, just like a Pavlov experiment. The more he calls himself a mayor, the more the stature issue is highlighted. Think big, be President!
No, there is no destabilization in the traditional sense. But there is definitely a campaign to weaken and pounce on the presidency. The line, “culture of impunity, hate and anger” has been echoed by De Lima, Trillanes, the Liberal Party and the Vice President. It has been echoed in social media conversations. Those who propagate the line are said to be warriors of truth and those who do not are dream weavers.
And then there is that single star in the dark horizon, Cadet First Class Rovi Mairel V. Martinez of Cabanatuan City, valedictorian of PMA Class 2017, who reminded all of what service is: “To the Filipino people, whom we have pledged to serve with honor and integrity, utang naming ang lahat ng ito sa inyo. We will strive to become officers who are worthy of your respect and trust. We vow as young leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to always serve you and our country with vigor and unwavering commitment. Sa buong sambayan ang Pilipino, handa na po kaming magsilbi sa inyo!”
A very simple message that reverberates. You serve the country you love. You do not destroy it just because your kind did not make it. You do not spend a minute scheming. You roll up your sleeves and help. That is being Filipino today!