His spokesman announced that he would be present. But since he was campaigning in the province and was unable to catch a flight to the National Capital Territory on time, boxer-cum-senator Emanuel “Manny” Pacquiao also failed to enter the cast.
It was just as good. His supporters thanked their lucky stars for his absence. Most social and other media reactions against the joint press conference that Easter Sunday (April 17) at the Peninsula Manila Hotel were even more skeptical about the possibility of Pacquiao’s fellow candidate – Mayor “Isco” Moreno Domagoso, Senator Panfilo already thin enough. Lacson, and former Arroyo Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez – to win the presidency.
To start things off during that tragic event, Domagoso read out a statement announcing that the Quartet (Pacquiao was also a signatory) had promised to put citizens first on the official agenda. The statement also included a pledge of unity and condemnation of “political strife”. It echoed Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s declaration of the need to “move forward” from condemning the “unification leader” and his father’s 14-year dictatorship. It explicitly excluded Vice-President Maria Leone’s “Lenny” Robredo, suggesting that all four would unite against him – and for whose benefit? – Marcos Jr.
What happened next caused more divisions, not less, between Domagoso, Lexon, Pacquiao, and Gonzalez. Lexon distanced himself from Domagoso’s call for Vice-President Robredo to withdraw his candidacy, as did Pacquiao, when Gonzalez apologized to the vice-president for his apparent agreement with that claim.
But neither Lexon nor Gonzalez protested Domagoso’s call during the event. Only when anger over it escalated did Lexon and Gonzalez claim to disagree. If that incident had achieved anything, it was these three gentlemen who encouraged the suspicion that they were in the character cast, dramatic personalities, To confuse voters, Part 2 Political drama.
At the heart of that drama is the division of votes by the opposition fiVeteran candidates are pretending to be “opposition”. It will replicate, albeit with some modifications, what happened in 2016 fiAt the time, four of the presidential candidates were considered opponents of the outgoing administration, with Rodrigo Duterte winning with only 32% of the vote.
This trick worked so well that even some supposedly more prudent groups bought it. The non-governmental organization Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CNPEG), for example, has identified Domagoso, Lexon and Pacquiao as opposition candidates, with VP Robredo and Labor leader Leodegario “Ka Liodi” de Guzman as opposition candidates.
The CenPEG explicitly assumes that Mr. Duterte is a candidate other than himself, and promises to listen to different sectors, such as resuming peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and embracing genuine land reform. And a national industrialization program, worthy of that title. This assumption forgets that the moon and stars promised almost every candidate’s trading stock – Mr Duterte himself promised a lot in 2016, but failed to deliver – and Duterte ignored their track record during the six years of his rule, which Lacson’s, during Domagoso’s reign, Gonzales’, and Pacquiao’s case, consisting of unquestioning support.
What does it mean to be in the opposition? It limits its definition to the fight against the ruling party and ignores the obligation of any real opposition to be pro-democracy and anti-authoritarian, as has never been the case with Domagoso, Lexon and Gonzalez or Pacquiao.
The Pacquiao record, for example, justifies thousands of “drug-war” killings, saying governments have the right to kill. He cites the murder (!) Of Jesus Christ as evidence — which is, not a legitimate government, but the occupying army of imperialist Rome. Laxman has been accused of human rights abuses since his days as an active police officer, and was the lead author of the Duterte regime-promoting anti-terrorism law, while Domagoso, whose six-year silence implicitly supported the regime, is asking Mr Duterte to approve his candidacy.
During their press conference, the trio further claimed that VP Robredo’s supporters would protest Marcos-Duterte’s victory to the point of “destabilizing” the government. President Duterte threatened to arrest the “troublemakers” on the basis of the exact indication, when police announced that they would consult with the three to get more information and prevent any such trouble, which echoed after Marcos Jr. This script only adds to the trio being widely regarded as the people in front of the regime they are pretending to oppose.
Based on their track record and pro-democracy stance, only VP Robredo and Labor leader De Guzman deserve the title of opposition. However, only Robredo seems to be the most effective opposition candidate. The unprecedented rise in the number of people in his campaign indicates that his chances of winning the presidency are improving day by day. By demanding his withdrawal from the presidential election, though – or perhaps because – of this fact, all three present at the Easter Sunday press conference revealed the motive behind the strategy, despite their slim chances of winning the presidency (this clearly shows Moreno and Lexon’s low poll numbers, and Gonzalez’s own zero) to contest the country’s highest electoral position, and that is, to prevent a Robredo victory.
They continue to run, but the support of both Moreno and Lexon is broken. One of the parties that has asked Domagoso to run for the presidency has shifted support to Ikao Muna, the Philippines (you first, the Philippines), and VP Robredo. Laxman’s own Partido Para Democratic Report (Party for Democratic Reform) has done just that. But both remain steadfast in their futile candidacy, despite the self-evident truth that any true opponents will, at this moment, see the need to unite behind the candidate with the greatest chance of defeating the Marcos-Duterte partnership. The indication of where their true sympathy lies is not only in their perseverance, but also in focusing their attacks on Vapo Robredo, VP of Lexon and Moreno, and abandoning their demand for the Marcosara government to pay them more than 200 200 billion in estate taxes.
As VP Robredo continues to defect and he is gaining strength, the regime focusing on their real goal in the May 9 election has become even more urgent for its surrogates and clones. Other attacks by so-called opponents on Easter Sunday and VP Robredo were the latest in a series to attack Moreno et al. Al to withdraw, which the VP’s party has denied. Demands for unity against the Marcos-Duterte party came mostly from some Robredo supporters, while Pacquiao’s vice-presidential running mate, Lito Atienza, called on the 2022 presidential candidates to form a “united front” against truly authoritarian rule.
The defeat of Easter Sunday Moreno-Lexon-Gonzalez makes it clear to anyone who has at least a double-digit IQ who the real opposition candidates are, and incidentally, those who manage to convince voters are the right leaders. The terrible present can efficiently deal with many of the problems of the present and lead this country towards a hopeful future. This could be a major turning point in one of the most important Philippine elections in decades.
Lewis V. Teodoro is on Facebook and Twitter (luisteodoro).