Art by Bencab.
University of Washington professor Vicente Rafael weighs in on the Philippine election results and poses perplexing questions in his Facebook post.
Silver linings in the recent mid-terms? The Estrada dynasty comes to an ignominious end; Enrile finally spiked; Gadon gone; no Manicad nor Magundadatu; Freddie A. shut out. Plus some good news, apparently in Pasig, Baguio, Manila. Kiko Benitez won
in Negros Occidental after running unopposed (though don’t know what has happened to his brother Albie). Meanwhile, Abby Binay won over brother Junjun in Makati but not sure if she is any better, or it’s all the same banana. Her dad went down in flames, but her husband Luis won a congressional seat. Been hearing other encouraging stories in other local contests, but not as yet able to verify.


With Imee’s victory, does this mean that Bongbong can quietly drop his challenge to Leni and go off and relax in the only way he can somewhere? And Imelda can give it a final rest? Though with Marcos victories in local and provincial elections in Ilocos Norte, the dynasty has a new generation coming up. And with the victory of Go and Bato, the nationalization of Davao politics continues apace, shifting the center of political gravity away from imperial Manila and  increasingly towards Beijing.

The celebrity plunderers were unashamedly displaying their wealth on election day. As Benito Vergara pointed out, the Revillas were out in full force: “Rolex Daytona White Gold on Bong and Rolex Yellow Gold Sub on his son. Maybe Php 3,200,000.00 total. Voting in one of the poorest parts of Bacoor both wearing Rolexes is probably why Bacoor has poorest parts. And a Datejust Rolex on Lani.” Arrivistes, walking advertisements for corruption.

What’s next? With no exit polls, it will be harder to figure out who voted for who and why. Money will remain a major factor as in all electoral politics. For the opposition, how to raise it without the help of drug lords or PDAF and DAP? Patronage is also key: people will vote for those who “help” them directly before they vote for issues and laws that will help them indirectly maybe in the next generation. Political dynasties won’t go away but will most likely intensify especially if the constitution is changed. What to do? Is there someway of cultivating progressive dynasties, especially among the younger members? Or is that a blind alley?

There should also be a discussion on social justice, or rather varying ideas about social justice. On one side, there are those who see justice as a structural issue that requires slow and deliberative due process and reform of the criminal (in)justice system; on the other side, justice is seen in more visceral terms. It is something that should be swift, as in personalized revenge, that excuses EJKs regardless of “collateral damage” as a way get rid of the so-called scum, the “non-humans” who putatively endanger us. In this Game of Thrones environment, where human rights is seen as an obstruction, guess which argument won in this election? Is there another way of framing the issue of social justice that addresses its socio-economic context?

Also, how do we accommodate or reinvent the traditional practice of politics as a kind of entertainment where glamor and humor gild duplicity and corruption? How to run as a progressive in trad-pol garb? Is it possible to adopt trapo language and style towards social democratic ends? Or will an entirely new political vocabulary have to be invented? What other resources are out there for reinventing politics in the country that hasn’t already been cannibalized by the usual CPP rhetoric?

Regarding Otso Deretso, my one centavo: for all the devotion of their volunteers and their smarts and courage, they unfortunately went up against the most popular president in recent history. Part of me always felt that the opposition ran not to win, but just to make a statement. Well, they made their statement and they lost. Badly. Let’s face it: while they were no doubt upright and virtuous, they did not come across as sexy to the voters, where singing and dancing and telling sexist jokes trumps the serious discussions of issues. They just couldn’t figure out a way to get to the majority who don’t do student mock polls. And Mar, for all his political experience (or perhaps because of it), did not help. Some would argue he did the opposite. Perhaps finding a populist strategy and populist candidate should be next step?