Black as tar
By Roger Balanza
The opposition Liberal Party (LP) is spicing up its propaganda campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte with a new bent, hurling its criticisms against the administration with a poetic twist.
Although Pinoys expect more than poetry from the opposition as a critical, balancing force, the verbal scuds hurled of late by the LP and its minions should still be credited for what it is worth: providing comic relief, at this time when, even without help from Vice President Leni Robredo and company, President Duterte and his administration and Filipinos join hands in the serious task of confronting the woes and ills of the nation and mapping out plans to push the country forward.
Robredo, the team leader of the propaganda machine of the LP of former President Benigno Aquino, over the weekend, turned poet with her description of the country as shrouded in darkness.
“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed. Darkness envelops us. But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting,” Robredo said in her speech at a party gathering marking the founding anniversary of the opposition party on Saturday, January 19.
Robredo’s poetic “darkness envelops us,” refers to the nation’s state of affairs under the Duterte administration.
But Robredo’s scathing poetry should boomerang on her as she could be referring to herself and the state of affairs of the LP and not the Duterte administration.
Let us dissect Robredo’s speech.
“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed.” The answer is there is no hope for the LP to rise from the grave. It is a political opposition heading to nowhere. Its future is black as tar.
“Darkness envelops us.” Yes indeed. The LP is groping in the dark on what role it wants to play, reduced to nothing but a cabal linked to a regime noted for massive corruption and has no place under the Duterte administration with its campaign for a graft-free Philippines.
“But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting.” One cannot fight a war without an army. The LP today is a party in the throes of death, abandoned by members who joined the administration of President Duterte.
Of course, Robredo’s verbal blast being out of touch with political realities was met with a loud ho-hum by the public, coming as it did at a time when Duterte was flying high in the surveys by Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
Robredo’s poetry was immediately dismissed as another nonsense and pure, undiluted propaganda from the opposition.
It was kind of presidential spokesman Harry Roque to react to Robredo, adding a few decibels to the vice president’s statement apparently out of pity that it would disappear into cyberspace dismissed as inconsequential without an iota of reaction.
Still Roque was fatal and went for the guttural by placing the Robredo blast in its proper perspective as misplaced and out of tune with political realities.
Despite Robredo’s dark forebodings about the country in darkness, Filipinos continue to trust President Duterte and his administration.
According to Roque, the people’s high levels of hope and optimism have been complemented by high satisfaction, approval and trust ratings as reflected in the various surveys.
That said, Robredo saying the nation is in “darkness” is not only off-tangent but a clear attempt to discredit the administration with blatant refusal to accept the political realities of the day.
The poetic fever apparently has also infected Senator Francis Pangilinan.
“We will not go quietly into this dark night,” said Pangilinan, the LP president, borrowing a line from poet Dylan Thomas. In the same venue, Pangilinan, however, did not elaborate on how LP would play its role as an opposition.
The LP president appears to subscribe to Robredo’s indictment that the LP is unsure of its future as “many ask us if there is still hope (for the LP),” and that the party does not know “where we are headed,” because “darkness envelops us.”
Sen. Bam Aquino was not poetic, but his tone, vis-à-vis political realities on the ground, is as murky as the poets Robredo and Pangilinan.
“The future of the party does not rest on politicians, but on the people. It’s time to be a party of the people. A party composed of the people,” the neophyte senator told his partymates.
Juxtaposed against the fact that LP has been abandoned by members to pitch camp with the ruling PDP-Laban of President Duterte, Bam Aquino could be banking on the LPs new strategy of buttressing its emaciated rank with recruitment of people in the grassroots.
But with surveys showing President Duterte’s acceptance level in percentage nearly breaching the century mark, who could be the people that Aquino wanted to lure into the LP?
These could be people who benefitted from the graft and corruption under the Aquino administration like the opposition legislators in the Senate and House who luckily survived the onslaught of the PDP-Laban-Duterte campaign in the 2016 election.
They might as well hitch a ride with LP. After all, the grafters and the corrupt have no place in the Duterte administration.
The current reality is that the LP, the ruling party during the Aquino administration , is now almost a dead party, its ranks bled dry by members who jumped to join the administration PDP-Laban.
The desertion is so massive that the joke going around is that the LP now has members that could hardly fill up a Volkswagen.
No matter what you call the mass exodus — desertion, turncoatism, political opportunism — the fact is that the LP can never recover from the hemorrhage.
During the campaign period and as soon as the Duterte regime came into power, Duterte was hounded non-stop with accusations dismissed as plain and simple black propaganda as they never took off from square one.
The smear campaign even continued between LP’s yearend blast about the nation having lost its soul under the Duterte administration and poet Robredo’s spin over the weekend on the country being in darkness.
Not spared was presidential assistant Bong Go, who was accused by opposition-inspired media of meddling in the P15.5 billion Philippine Navy warship project.
Another opposition-inspired media outfit revived the alleged hidden wealth of the Duterte family, an accusation hurled during the campaign period that until today has never been proven.
On day one of his appointment, spokesman Roque warned that while Malacanang would welcome criticism,
he would go tit-for-tat in a head-on collision with critics, including media and the political opposition, who go overboard to throw unfounded accusations.
There is limit to patience and maximum tolerance, and Roque has threatened to dig up skeletons in the closet of the Aquino administration in response to the latest black propaganda assaults against the Duterte administration.
The previous regime has a closet-full of skeletons that need to be unearthed for massive corruption and blatant omission: from PDAF to DAP to Mamasapano to Dengvaxia.
Former President Aquino, several of his Cabinet officials and some sitting members of the Senate and the House, still carry the stink of the grand thievery and other crimes involved in these skeletons.
Did we hear PDAF scam queen Janet Lim saying she dished out a P5 million election campaign donation to opposition Senator Franklin Drilon?
Roque should start from there.