MANILA, Philippines — The newly formed 1Sambayan, the coalition out to challenge whoever would be President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed candidate for the 2022 elections, would not be a representative of the “united opposition” if it fails to invite the masses in its discussions.
This was the warning issued on Monday by the youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark), who noted that the urgency of setting up an initiative against the Duterte administration was a sign that people had grown weary of its shortcomings.
But Spark also noted that name-dropping potential candidates without even consulting people would do more harm than good as it projects an image of personality politics, rather than public participation and issue-focused discussions — which, the group said, would deter the public from supporting them.
“This is the challenge posed by progressive youths to 1Sambayan: As long as the Filipino masses are excluded and not in the center of discussions for the 2022 elections, and if you would force the masses and turn them into mere observers for the personalities you endorse, you would not gain public trust, and neither would they sacrifice for your united opposition’s victory,” the group said in Filipino.
“If the coalition’s intentions to ensure justice and bring back democracy are pure, then where is the ordinary Filipino in the narrative they present?” it added.
Spark stressed that it would only be right for the masses, especially those belonging to poor communities, to speak up and have a voice in the 2022 polls as they were the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the alleged incompetence of the Duterte administration.
“Isn’t it just right that the poor masses that feed and keep society moving, who have endured the most hardships under the Duterte government, would be in the middle of the discussions for political reform?” Spark said.
“Spark is challenging the 1Sambayan coalition to make the plight of workers and the masses a priority. If you are sincere in your intentions in ending the crises on the economy, healthcare, ecology, and state fascism, you should understand that the answer lies in the leadership and involvement of the poor masses,” it added.
Spark is among the latest groups to speak about the creation of 1Sambayan, a coalition headed by retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and other members of opposition organizations.
Launched last Thursday, 1Sambayan is a movement hinged on a pro-democracy and anti-authoritarianism standpoint. It has named several possible standard bearers — Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sens. Grace Poe and Nancy Binay, and former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Last Friday, labor leader and former senatorial candidate Leody de Guzman noted that, while 1Sambayan was a breath of fresh air, it would need broad public participation to effectively challenge the administration camp.
De Guzman also lamented how the masses’ political participation and power had been relegated to elections, and not in the discussions beforehand — like picking their preferred candidate and joining in talks about a candidate’s possible platform.
Across the political realm, 1Sambayan drew mixed reactions, as named candidates thanked the coalition for the citations, but preferred focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The same sentiments — focusing on the health crisis — were also brought up by administration allies rumored presidential candidates Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
But Duterte-Caprio also commented that 1Sambayan’s proposal “sounds authoritarian” as it excludes other members of the country from participating in the talks — something that even critics of the current government.
Spark said that it would not be willing to place its bet on a candidate that would be forced on them — just like 1Sambayan’s decision to pick possible candidates, instead of asking the public what kind of leader they prefer.
“As long as this is our concept of change, we would be put to shame by history before the long tale involving elitist democracy. We would no longer gamble our futures for individuals who would pretend to be saviors and bringers of change,” the group said.
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