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Destiny in our own hands …

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If this was the usual in-person campaign and rallies, Leni Robredo would seem to have the upper hand among all candidates judging from the reception she gets when she goes out to meet the public and the grassroots support that she has generated.  But because of the restrictions on physical campaigning, the battle to win the hearts and minds of voters in the upcoming Presidential election may have to be fought in social media. And here, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. seems to have the advantage. This is a factor of the huge resources he has brought to bear to this medium. He has in his employ professional soldier-of-fortune strategists running a massive and sophisticated social media campaign. He has spent millions to buy social media influencers through which he has unleashed his army of trolls. The objective is to revise history and paint a rosy picture of the rapacious Marcos dictatorship since the candidate himself has little to show in terms of personal accomplishment during his term in office at local and national levels. By promoting the notion that the Marcos dictatorship was benign, that people were more disciplined, that the present infrastructure backbone was built, and that the economy progressed – it aims to generate a nostalgia for the “good old days”. And Jr. Marcos, is the one who will bring back those “halcyon” days. Judging from the polls and personal interaction, particularly with the D&E economic strata, it would seem that many of our kababayans are still susceptible to the false narrative that the Jr. Marcos camp is weaving.

To me there are three key messages that need to be conveyed to counter the lies that the Jr. Marcos camp is peddling.

The first is that there there never were “good, old days” during the Marcos regime unless one were to equate it to the assassination of political rivals, repression through murder and torture, suppression of dissent, corruption of a mind-boggling scale, that ultimately brought the country to bankruptcy.

The second is that Jr. Marcos has not demonstrated any palpable capability to lead the country into the new future. There is no achievement that stands out during his years as a public servant. He was elected to public office mainly on the back of the support by the traditionally clannish North who still swear fealty to his father. And now as if we were a royalty not a democracy, he seems to think that becoming our next Leader is his birthright and not something he has to earn.

The third is Jr. Marcos’ flawed character and questionable morals. He has been described by his erstwhile patron Duterte as weak and a drug user. He was a spoiled kid who was raised in England by glorified nannies on money his parents which the local and international courts ruled as plundered from the country’s coffers and not from some mythical gold treasure. Yet despite this opportunity denied to 99% of Filipinos to better himself, he never even earned an undergraduate degree. We have many examples of people endeavoring to earn an education at great sacrifice and who have transformed themselves into worthy individuals. Jr Marcos took the easy path of the pampered and privileged who will never worry about where the next meal is coming from. He lied by saying he earned a degree at Oxford despite the school itself denouncing this. And far from being apologetic about their plundered wealth, he filed cases to claim that portion of their wealth that the government managed to sequester. Worse, despite all his wealth, he is a convicted felon for evading paying taxes even as he held public office.

In other countries, one would condemn his gall for even running. But here unfortunately, there are still people who are prepared to overlook his many deficiencies that clearly show he is unfit to lead our country based on moral grounds, an underwhelming track record as a public servant and a flawed character – an inveterate liar and unrepentant inheritor of plundered wealth. Is this the standard we have come to accept for our Leaders who are supposed to reflect all that we value and take pride as Filipinos and to which parents try to impart on their children? Or is it indifference bred by years of successive administration that have had little impact or consequence on their lives? That this is more a gamble that this candidate might deliver and lose nothing if he doesn’t?

Bishop Ambo Pabillo’s call to action says it best that unless we do so, “the virus of complacency and don’t care attitude of the majority of our countrymen will continue to infect our nation, a virus which destroys not just individual lives but more so the very foundation of our beloved Philippines.”

“Kung Hindi ngayon, kelan pa? Kung Hindi tayo kikibo at umaksyon, kawawa naman ang Pilipinas, kawawa ang susunod na henerasyon.”

The Leni Robredo campaign does not have the resources to match the massive social media campaign that Jr. Marcos is deploying. She will have to rely on people who believe in her and what she represents to convey her messages. We have one advantage – we have truth on our side. We do not have to invent myths to boost her qualities as a Leader – on any grounds. We just have to make it easier to grasp and appreciated. This is the turning point in our lives where we put our faith in character and demonstrated capability to lead us from the malaise that we find our country in.

The Democratic Ilongos for Leni and Kiko (https://m.facebook.com/democraticilonggosforleniandkiko/) is one of hundreds of grassroots movements that have spontaneously sprung to heed the call to action. They have a Facebook page through which they convey their messages in understandable format. They host a radio program that features guests sharing their opinion. This commendable project was initiated by UP High, class of 1983 in Iloilo.

Let us not lose the opportunity to put into our hands – we the people – to shape our country and the next generation’s destiny. We can do this.

BOBBY ROMULO
December 12, 2021

Email: rrr.romulo@gmail.com

Credit belongs to : Filipino Worldview

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