Why #BBM won in the Philippine elections


Since Ferdinand Bongbong Romualdez Marcos won in the most lopsided of elections in Philippine history, I have been constantly seeing how the mainstream media, both local and overseas, attribute his success to disinformation, and how the Marcos-Duterte Administration spells doom for the country.

Let me offer my opinion. I was born and educated in the Philippines. I grew up knowing Ferdinand Edralin Marcos as my president. I was in grade school when EDSA revolution happened. It has been 36 years since Marcos was removed from power.

In the vicissitudes of 36 years, Filipinos have grown dissatisfied with one administration after another. Millions remain poverty-stricken and their only pathway to escaping this vicious cycle of poverty is to work overseas, a pursuit that the Philippine government encourages.

So for four decades, the Filipinos have been stringing out their patience with the politicians that came their way. We have tried all sorts of them from all political colors. We have had the Aquinos, Ramos, Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo, and Duterte.

In the 2016 elections, in my view, President Duterte won because Filipinos were fed up with the same political group, a musical chairs of the presidential seat. When Duterte ran, they saw in him a tough candidate whom the majority could fear and obey. They saw he had the political will. They saw that what he did in Davao could be replicated on a national scale. They were longing for a leader who would rally the nation and they saw in President Rodrigo Duterte that leader they could respect and that with him, they could have a seat at the deciding table, that their voices could be heard.

I believe President Duterte paved the way for a Marcos presidency. Many who are enamored with his leadership went for Marcos in the last elections.

Now, back to Bongbong Marcos. He was seven when his father became president. He practically grew up in Malacañang Palace. Day in and day out, he witnessed how his parents, the Ferdie-Imelda tandem, led the nation. Neither he nor his younger sister Irene were involved in politics. His older sister Imee, now senator, was a youth leader with “Kabataang Baranggay”.

For the benefit of the non-Filipinos, “baranggay” is the smallest political unit in the Philippines led by a baranggay captain/chairman. So from every baranggay, youth leaders were also elected to help with crafting policies for the youth. KB remained active until 1986 and was replaced by Sangguniang Kabataan under the Cory Aquino Administration. But essentially, it was just a name change.

Now, fast forward to today. Marcos won the elections fair and square.

I think it is too simplistic to attribute his victory on disinformation. It is tantamount to scapegoating or sourgraping by the losing parties and their allies.

(1) People voted for Marcos because the alternative was not equally appealing. I have nothing against VP Leni Robredo. But I think she banked on a weak campaign. Based on my observation, running on fear and throwing mud could only go so far. The campaign went on a full-throated attack on the Marcoses with many campaign surrogates calling BBM a thief on many occasions. In contrast, the Unity Team of Marcos and Duterte championed unification, solidarity. The electorate saw a sharp contrast: hate vs love.

(2) I have heard how the Robredo followers on the ground constantly derided the Marcos followers, saying they are mostly undereducated, with no college diploma. It was one insult after another. During the door-to-door campaigns, they prefaced their talk with “Let us educate you…” that sounded condescending.

(3) It was the intelligentsia and the upper class versus the masses. In my view, the recent elections were a revolt by the masses. They could no longer deal with being marginalized, being forgotten and ignored.

(4) The Robredo camp relied on the star-power of the big-name entertainers. That drowned out their messaging.

(5) Marcos has charisma and is effortless.

(6) Robredo made several mistakes during the campaign period. The optics of the priests campaigning, with her wearing a crown in another sortie, and with some appearing to worship her disgusted many. One major mistake she had in one of her interviews was her not knowing the approximate number of islands in the Philippines, something a first-grade student would know. This was captured on live TV, replayed over and over on youtube.com. That is not disinformation.

(7) The constant reference to the Marcos dictatorship, ill-gotten wealth, etc. has become tiresome.

(8) Teaming up with Mayor Inday Duterte gave Marcos a huge boost. Duterte is exceedingly popular and she helped Marcos win decisively in Southern Philippines.

Again, I am not a political scientist. I only wrote what I thought were the reasons Marcos won in the last elections. These were only my observations and feedback from the ground.

The Robredo camp made a lot of unforced errors. There was the constant negative rhetoric and this had clouded their messaging.

Consider this: Many questioned Marcos’ lack of a college diploma, calling him unqualified to be president. According to the 1987 Constitution, the very basic qualification of a candidate is meeting the literacy bar: able to read and write.

Article VII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution says:

Section 2. No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.

In my opinion, everyone should just give the new administration a chance to prove its worth. He has six years to do so in the case of President-elect Bongbong Marcos. In the Philippines, a president serves for only one term of six years, in contrast to the United States where the president can serve up to a maximum of two terms of four years each.

In the aftermath of the Marcos’ victory, many proclaimed they would continue to fight, including those from the other losing camps. Consider the following:

31 million people have spoken. Some of us may not agree with it but we have to understand that in a democracy the majority wins. It is understandable that some are still going through Kübler-Ross stages of grief. And some may still be stuck with anger stage for the most part as they curse and think of all doomsday prophecies for the incoming administration.

President Marcos has yet to be proclaimed, and already some have been wishing him ill will, that he won’t succeed, that the economy will fail, ad nauseam.

Everyone is in the same boat. If you root for the captain to fail, and if the boat sinks, everyone goes down with him—even you!

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