Jojo A. Robles

The search continues

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This time, it’s September 21. This is the latest date chosen in the never-ending search by the anti-Duterte crowd for a significant day that will, they hope, lead to the downfall of the president.


By the end of 2017, which will be upon us soon, those who seek to remove President Rodrigo Duterte will have cycled through an entire year, beginning with the Feb. 25 anniversary of the “people power” revolt in 1986, in their search for the ultimate protest action. So far, they tried every politically important date available, including Ninoy Aquino’s death anniversary and National Heroes Day just last month, in their campaign to muster up a crowd big enough to suit their dreams of a mass protest that will shake up Duterte and force him, perhaps, in the Marcos manner, to flee the palace without a fight.

It is a fool’s errand, this insistence on gathering up a big enough crowd that will make a president with approval ratings in the mid-eighties cower in fear. Especially since Duterte has always maintained that anyone can stage a protest for whatever reason, as long as they do not inconvenience the rest of us.

Ultimately, it is based on a narrative that has no factual moorings - that of a bloodthirsty, fascist tyrant who will suppress the people’s rights wholesale, including their right to call him a bloodthirsty, fascist tyrant in a peaceful assembly attended by priests, nuns and all manner of supposedly democracy-minded citizens. And in the end, the failure of these forces (such as they are) to muster up a crowd that will number more than the statues at their beloved People Power monument is a testament to their irrelevance, to their being out of step with what the people really want.

But they go on, nonetheless. Only Monday, Sept. 18, a group calling itself Tindig Pilipinas was launched by the usual suspects, supposedly to organize the impending “mammoth” rally to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

The creation of Tindig Pilipinas followed the birthing of the Movement Against Tyranny only last Aug. 28, for much the same reason. After the initial hype - and after the parents of teenage murder victim Kian delos Santos did not attend the launch as the guests of honor, having decided that it was Duterte who could give them the justice that they sought  - nothing more was heard from this MAT.

If recent history is any indicator, this new Tindig group will suffer the same fate as MAT. And the same people will try again, at some future significant date, to rouse a public long made weary of their remonstrations and demonstrations. 

(The Facebook page of MAT has still not gathered more than 3,000 “likes,” which will not even give the group a slot in the Malacañang press briefing room under the new blogger-friendly guidelines. No wonder Edwin Lacierda, the former Goebbels of the previous administration, is now calling for anti-Duterte forces to stop being keyboard warriors and convert themselves to “road warriors” - as if the Yellows’ abject failure to gather supporters online can alchemically be transformed into huge crowds of protesters to make the “tyrant” quake in his Marikina-made boots.)

On Sept. 21, the protesters promise nothing new except the presence of Rafael Mariano, the farmer-leader who lobbied hard for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments and, after failing to do so, became an anti-Duterte campaigner overnight. Mariano will be joined this week by people he would probably never associate with, had he become a full-fledged member of the Cabinet - Senators Antonio Trillanes and Risa Hontiveros, the prime movers of Tindig.

I wonder how many “mass actions” that end in whimpers of abject defeat these people will stage until they get the inescapable message: The people are not coming and they are not even amused.

Protesting will always be their right, of course, never to be suppressed. The participation of the people, however, is something they know they can never demand - unless they become, by some fortuitous event, the tyrants they warned us so lustily against.

* * *

Speaking of Mariano and the radical Left to whose fold he has returned, they have somehow taken to calling Duterte an equal partner in what they are now calling a “US-Marcos dictatorship.” I don’t seem to recall any Philippine president standing up to our former colonial masters like Duterte has, and yet he has now - to the Left, anyway - become as much of an American puppet as, say, Noynoy Aquino.

This is “revisionist history” in the extreme, something that the Yellow administrators of Ateneo de Manila who put up their online martial law museum want us to rail against. And if Mariano and the Left had not played footsie with the new pro-American puppet for so long (say, while Mariano was serving in the Cabinet), it would actually be believable.

But the truth is, the Left would eventually get around to calling any Philippine president a US lackey, even Duterte with his now-famous anti-American mouth. Yes, the same mouth that earned him the ire of the “coconuts” (you know, brown outside but white inside) among us for embracing both China and Russia.

Time to rework the old slogans, comrades. For your own credibility’s sake.

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