What the Otso Diretso defeat means

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If the partial, unofficial results of Monday’s midterm elections are an indication of the final tally, none of the eight anti-administration Otso Diretso senatorial candidates are going to make it to the winning circle of 12.

According to the tallies, Otso Diretso candidate Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino is at 13th place, while another Otso Diretso candidate, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II of the Liberal Party (LP), is at 16th place. The other six are trailing far behind, almost assured of defeat.

If the current trend continues, the Otso Diretso will end up as Otso Olat. So much for the LP’s self-serving claim that the people are quietly supporting the anti-administration ticket.

Actually, the Otso Diretso was doomed from the start.

The failure of the LP to field a full slate of 12 was already an indication of its unpopularity, due mainly to the abusive way LP politicians comported themselves when they were in power. In politics, large scale unpopularity translates to inevitable defeat in the polls.

Another factor is that the Otso Diretso has no moral high ground. Its visible leaders are seen as political opportunists. One of the ticket’s rabid supporters who advocated righteousness had to abandon his sanctimonious facade when a sex video implicating him went viral in the social media.

Still another factor is the exposé that Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo was behind a discredited video that attempted to link President Rodrigo Duterte and his family to the illegal drug trade in the Philippines. The video was designed to discredit candidates closely identified with the President, and underscored that the Otso Diretso and the LP will resort to anything, even underhanded measures, just to win votes.

Otso Diretso was a partnership of political convenience. The only common bond the candidates had was their opposition to the Duterte administration. There was nothing else beyond that. Roxas was an obvious oligarch; Aquino was political opportunism personified; Erin Tañada symbolized hollow leadership; Gary Alejano was linked to military mutinies; Jose Manuel Diokno identified with the left; Romulo Macalintal is money politics; Florin Hilbay is too close to ex-President Benigno Aquino III; and Samira Gutoc has no serious political platform.

The lack of a clear cause among the Otso Diretso bets led to the group’s disintegration months before election day. Roxas was the first to unofficially bolt from the coalition, as seen in his separate campaign sorties as early as March. Aquino and Macalintal followed. In the end, the Otso Diretso became the Kwatro Desperado, who eventually learned that being pitiful is not enough to get elected.

Likewise, the impending defeat of the Otso Diretso means the Filipino people are still very pleased with the way President Duterte is running the government, and with his relentless war against illegal drugs. It also means that the occasional odd remarks made by the President in public are non-issues as far as the people are concerned.

The impending defeat of the Otso Diretso ticket likewise means that the voters disagree with the views of anti-Duterte elements like ex-President Noynoy Aquino, Vice President Robredo and Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

It is also a slap on the face of outgoing Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who in just six weeks will morph from a noisy, opinionated troublemaker in the Senate to an irrelevant has-been who will probably be in hiding for fear of his own shadow.

Otso Diretso’s downfall at the ballot box should also be enough reason for the pharisees in the Catholic Church, like the double-talking Luis Cardinal Tagle and his highly politicized bishops Socrates Villegas and Pablo Virgilio David, to shut up and stop their unfounded criticism of the President.

It should also be enough to discourage Sister Patricia Fox, that meddling nun from Australia who claims to love the Philippines for the past 40 years, but refuses to get naturalized as a Filipino, from entertaining plans to return to the Philippines any time soon.

Knowing the kind of shady individuals behind the Otso Diretso, it is certain that they will not take defeat that easily, and they will continue to be critical of the government, despite their repudiation by the people.

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