August 19, 2019 - Monday
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Davao City, Philippines

Otso Diretso

May 20, 2019 - Monday 4:05 AM by JD Vergara

It still amazed me a little bit that not one of the “Otso Diretso” line up got in the senatorial race. I thought that maybe one or two would get in. They were indeed “flushed in the toilet bowl” as one of the videos in Facebook portrayed. I thought that at least Chel Diokno, with his legal advocacy on human rights, would have a chance in this election, but it seemed that I had underestimated the people’s attitude about them. The jinx I think is in Mar Roxas with his stupid traffic mEme and Jim Paredes for his unhinged sex video. They’re like the plague to be avoided. Weird turn of events in Philippine politics indeed.

Analysts are saying they had a wrong campaign strategy. They kept on hammering against President Duterte when he was not running for the Senate. By constantly attacking the President and his programs, they instead heaped upon themselves the ire of the people. They should have focused on their own platforms and worked hard at it instead of criticizing Duterte’s work. Further, analysts say that the group failed to promote its individual members and as a result, many of them were not known by the people. The group may be popular but the members were not. It makes sense indeed.

Well, blame it all on Francis Pangilinan who is the group’s campaign manager. His personal vendetta against Duterte did more damage that good. I think he took it personally when Duterte called him stupid and dumb for his Juvenile Delinquency Law. Since then, he was no longer the same Francis Pangilinan that I knew. This grudge may have marred the group’s chance when it focused on the issues they raised against the President. And at this point, Pangilinan is still at it: “To our supporters asking about the next steps after the election, our answer is clearer than the light of day: the issues of Chinese encroachment into our territory and our economy, the everyday extra-judicial killings while no government official or drug lord who have snuck in illegal drugs through Customs has been arrested or detained, the lack of decent wage and jobs for our people, and other similar issues do not end on election day.”

However, for me, the greater reason the Otso Diretso fell flat on its face is the changing political narrative in the Philippine politics. The group and their few followers are still wearing the EDSA Revolution ideological lens. Their message is still the same: human rights abuses, dictatorial regime, martial law, Ninoy legacy, and the Edsa Shrine. While these may have been quite relevant many years back, they no longer do in the light of the present problems of criminality, corruption, drug addiction, human trafficking, etc. These are real life problems in real time that need utmost political attention because they are slowly destroying our country. They have failed to transform their political narrative into an effective catalyst to address these common problems people face each day. The political lens has become obsolete and must therefore be abandoned.

Right now, the fear is the resurgence of the death penalty and this fear has been magnified with the entrance of the administration backed senators in the Senate. On this issue, the group during the campaign maintained that the Cebu teen rape-slay case should not be a reason for reviving the death penalty. Considering the death penalty as animalistic, Samira Gutoc said, “I am angry and moved to tears at what happened to that girl. This shouldn't have happened, but that should not bring out the animal in us.” Florin Hilbay chimed in and said, “What's scary is sometimes we use our emotional response to make an emotional policy response.” These lines betray lack of knowledge about the philosophical debate for the death penalty.

How the outcome of the election will turn out in the coming years remains to be seen. But I’d like to see more good things in the economy and in science and technology. I’d like to see economic changes not just in the National Capital Region but in Mindanao especially. My desire is that we’d become at par with China regarding technology (mobile computing) and like Israel in regards to science and technology. It’s time to move on and work for a better Philippines.

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