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REAR VIEW MIRROR: What did the LP expect?

January 12, 2019 - Saturday 12:01 PM by Chito Fuentes

It’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.
    The opposition Liberal Party (LP) has to make hard decisions – fast. Initial surveys show the once mighty and proud party slipping down the slope. In just three years, the erstwhile dominant party is virtually a shell of its old self.
    At best, only two of its eight bets have realistic chances of making it. And even those two, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas and reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino are tottering on the edge.
    Indeed, what a difference three years can make.
    After being so brazen in the 2016 campaign, throwing all caution and decency to the winds, the LP has been reduced to a pulp, a spent force too embarrassed even to wear the colors it once proudly scattered all over.
    True, Roxas lost pathetically to President Rodrigo Duterte. Notwithstanding his second-place finish, he was never really considered a real contender. Not with his shameful handing of the spate of calamities that visited the previous administration. And even more so with the shameless endorsement of former President Benigno Aquino III who actually turned out to be more of a liability than an asset.
    The LP buried itself deeper in the mud with its relentless destabilization moves against the Duterte administration long after the devastating loss waged by the cabal of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan, Frank Drilon and Leila de Lima.
    Failing miserably to sway majority of the Filipinos who have grown tired of hypocrisy and self-righteousness, the LP found itself isolated in such a way that it cannot even muster a full slate for the 12 Senate seats.
    With recent surveys going against it, the LP now has to make two very hard choices.
    First, it will have to rethink its strategy of mindlessly attacking President Duterte and his programs. In recent days, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go has been the target of a vicious attack spiced by the fake news that he perished in a helicopter crash.
    These old tricks no longer sell, not in the age of social media and Facebook where nearly everything can be verified in just a few minutes. If anything, Go scored propaganda points because people were made aware of his continuing service, his only “vice” as President Duterte puts it.
    With its erstwhile social media star on the retreat after being exposed as nothing but a hack of its erstwhile no. 1 endorser, the LP now has to choose between carrying on with its old-school demolition job approach and a more sober and constructive approach.
    That’s not an easy choice considering that all the LP was good at was making everybody else look bad. A positive campaign will be like a cussing sailor taking a crash course in diplomatese.
    Second, the LP will have to think hard before sending PNoy to the hustings.
    At the rate scandals and scams during his watch (nap?) are exploding, PNoy could turn out to be a magnet for negative publicity, the last thing a fast sinking ship wants.
    That would be easier said than done though since the LP won in 2010 largely through the so-called Aquino mystique. Take away PNoy and Kris and their fast-dwindling supporters will be only too eager to abandon them even before they know it.
    And yet, come to think of it, how can the LP really disengage itself from such monumental blunders as the Yolanda, Zamboanga, and Bohol rehabilitation projects, the Dengvaxia scam, SAF 44, Mahindra scandal, and many more?
    Indeed, it’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.
    It’s going to be a slow, painful, and agonizing death for a party once endorsed by the biggest showbiz stars, propped up by the giant and influential media organizations, and silently but undeniably backstopped by religious leaders just less than three years ago.
    And yet, when everything is said and done, the LP must address perhaps the most painful question of all: after all the abuses and excesses, the incompetence, and the indecisiveness, what did the LP really expect?