Philippine politics: A view from the diaspora


1Sambayanan is all about personalities

Editors’ note: As the Philippines gears for the next national  election in 2022, a new coalition of opposition groups was launched to oppose and defeat Duterte who is bent on staying in power.

Oswald Magno  dissects its relevance and prospects .


Oswald Magno


Sorry folks, but quite honestly, I am disappointed with 1Sambayan and its convenors with what I am hearing and seeing so far. I thought they would be different in that they would change the nature and level of political discourse in the country by focusing on issues, not personalities.

But here is another instance where a nascent political party is being structured around personalities. It’s no different from the old practice of political parties “adopting” this and that personality thought by their hotshot “kingmakers” to be “winnable”, and not culling people from within their ranks who adhere to or have demonstrated genuine commitment to a clearly defined political platform or ideology.

I would have had so much more respect for the convenors if they clearly spelled out a platform that their party or coalition will pursue or implement should they gain the favor of the electorate and manage to elect a President and a respectable number of representatives and senators. But until now, it seems there is very little information on what it is they are promising the electorate they would do if they win.

The usual ‘trapos’

In my view, 1Sambayan should focus on developing a clear and coherent platform first, and then look for candidates who are genuinely committed to implementing that platform, not the other way around. If this route is followed, it should not really matter whether their candidates are household names, scions of political families or have the wherewithal to finance a costly campaign etc. In fact, it is my belief that 1Sambayan would have more impact and will be viewed more favorably if its slate consisted of “no names” but otherwise brilliant and competent personalities who genuinely subscribe to its stated platform, instead of “trapos”.

Alternative program

In other words, in this critically important initial development stage, 1Sambayan would do well to fire up the people’s imagination and attention to an alternative program of governance that resonates with the electorate, and not spend their energies assembling a collection of politicians who they think are winnable. With so much attention now being placed on the so-called nominees for president, 1Sambayan is only succeeding in drawing more attention to the personalities, than on their program of governance. I am afraid people will think, as I do, that the group has no substance, that the old saw “change” is their only mantra, and it does not matter that their slate will consist of individuals with different persuasions and philosophies, so long as they are popular and can draw voters. So here we are again, the electorate facing the real possibility of not being able to make intelligent choices between political platforms that are based on the issues of major concern to them, come election time. Same old same old. So far, as I see it, there is no coherent set of policies being offered and 1Sambayan is simply an alliance or coalition of individuals and groups who are opposed to the current administration, and who will push candidates that the convenors hope will eventually come around and support 1Sambayan’s ideology or philosophy of governance (whatever that is).

1Sambayan is making a big mistake  in presenting an appearance of drawing a slate of presidential nominees from traditional or mainstream politicians. Their including Grace Poe for instance is a big stain on its credibility as an harbinger of change and high level political discourse in the country. 1Sambayan would do better bandying the names of non-professional politicians or professional people in other fields including credible and highly regarded people from their own ranks. What they are doing is a big disappointment for me. They now look like simply kingmakers rather than genuine agents of change.

Related article:

1Sambayan names 6 choices to pit vs Duterte’s anointed in 2022

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