By: John Carlo Tria
WITH the impending start of Congress next week much of the discussions surrounding it fall on who the next speaker of the House of Representatives will be.
This brings to light the role of the opposition, or what is left of it.
With diminished numbers in both houses of congress, the opposition suffered major setbacks in two things that will matter in the years to come: lowered credibility to do effective legislation and fiscalizing, and a diminished capability to rebuild itself in the critical period where such efforts need to be restarted.
Worse, it did not help that its two stalwarts failed to win Senate seats: Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino, the two gentlemen bearing the names of the opposition’s political idols and considered a major rallying point for popular and financial support.
Had they won, the capacity to gather the necessary resources for rebuilding their parties would have been more secure given the preparation needed in the build up to the 2022 polls.
Their loss is almost prophetic, leading many to think the opposition led by the Liberal Party has fallen even deeper into the hole it has created for itself.
Even long time party Akbayan failed to win any seats in the house, for the first time since 1998. Among the more progressive left parties such as the Makabayan coalition failed to win the same number of seats as before.
For now their support base is all but shattered. It seems many members have jumped ship to the administration supermajority.
How do these events affect the opposition’s political future?
With lower numbers due to the loss of key lieutenants, they did not have the numbers to mount a token candidate for speaker. Nothing was heard from them in the selection process. The battle for speaker seems to be among administration allies.
Worse, as their numbers decrease, their position as a minority party falls under question. With the Nacionalista Party emerging as the dominant minority party, the Liberal Party is all but shut out. The staunch oppositionists may be relegated to independent minority lawmakers.
Again, why did this happen?
It is clear that the opposition is divided, as it has always been. Key leftist and mainstream parties failed to band together, fielding separate slates for the senate, a throwback to the 2016 elections where they supported rival candidates and divided their forces.
This diminished their campaign posture and reach. Come 2019 elections, the sorry image of their sorties failing to draw crowds, and the smaller scale house to house campaign activities a far cry from the well funded, throng attended sorties and caravans of the 2010 and 2016 elections.
Again, there will be more whys to ask about this outcome. In a worse turn for them, to the message they want to put forth about the administration seems repudiated in the court of public opinion, as both pulse asia and social weather stations surveys show a smaller percentage of people saying they are not satisfied or trust the president. The trust and satisfaction ratings of the president have, on the other hand, reached new highs.