Mulling over the midterms

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The red carpet was laid out last Tuesday, but no proclamation was yet made. Wednesday was the big day.

Twelve senators — nine administration bets and three independents — were proclaimed winners in the midterm elections.

It may have felt anticlimactic for many at that point.

The Commission on Elections on Tuesday again postponed the big day in spite of the red carpet already rolled out.

Whatever the final outcome, however, one thing was already clear: it was a total turnaround for the Otso Diretso slate, which in previous elections would have done stupendously well.
“The last time that opposition failed to win even a single seat in legislative elections was in 1938 during the time of then-President Manuel L. Quezon.” This was noted in an online news portal recently, and it gives us pause.

It was “demoCRAZY,” one netizen went so far as as to say.

As of this writing, the Liberal Party (LP) leadership appears to be on shaky ground with the resignations of its president and secretary general tendered on Tuesday. The LP chairman refused to accept them, however, citing “much work still need to be done.”

Still, these events beg the question: what is next for the so-called yellow brigade?

Naturally, the sentiments of pain and misery come from the party’s abject loss in the senatorial race. It seems unbelievable for some of the most established names in politics to lose to total newbies in the realm of lawmaking. But lose they did, and — barring fraud and irregularities — it should make us stop and reflect on why this was so.

During Quezon’s time, the Nacionalista Party (which had unified after a period of contention over the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act) won all 98 seats in that historic polls, “(ushering) in the years of one-party rule in the country,” says another source.

We’re far from having a one-party rule, of course, but the overwhelming show of support for administration-endorsed candidates is reminiscent of the “magic” dust that certain personalities in our political world wield.

At one time, it was Aquino; today it is Duterte. It is hard to deny that President Duterte and his daughter Sara’s support for certain candidates commanded actual votes.

The highlight of the campaign season was the said endorsement, in which there were two overlapping pro-administration tickets: the President’s 11-person slate under the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino party, and his daughter’s list of 13 under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional party.

It became obvious, in the face of a super majority, that there no longer was one solid opposition or one that was big enough to counter the ruling party’s influence. In fact, the lopsided victory we have seen proves a weak opposition, though it may not necessarily translate to a weakness at the core where principles reside.

What is glaringly obvious is that surveys and trends gave no indication that things would turn out the way they did. By this, especially, we look to the local election results which could be regarded as a measure of either public sentiment or public ignorance.

The issue of political dynasties is a perfect example, as it turns out that people do not really care about it at all. Consider the poll performance of families like the Cayetanos of Taguig, where reelected senator Pia won a seat easily, brother Lino won as mayor and her other brother and his wife, Alan Peter and Lani, both emerged congressmen of Taguig, but of different districts. Obviously, it did not matter to most voters that the couple was running in separate districts.

Meanwhile, we have the Remullas of Cavite, Garcias of Cebu, Marcoses of Ilocos Norte, Belmontes and Sottos of Quezon City retaining, regaining or gaining positions in their respective provinces or cities.

Even the younger generation winners were backed by their name.

It is plain to see that in Philippine politics, red carpet-worthy people are still the ones who make it.

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