There was a time in our forgettable past that was spent by the body politics in search of reds, pinkos and commies everywhere. The paranoids thought they were in all imaginable places of habitation: under their beds, in their closets, on their rooftops and kitchen sinks. And their mission in life was to subvert the democratic order. The House of Representatives even had a silly ad hoc body, with the grand name of Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities.
The hunt for reds reached such ferocity that it became, to borrow from Mencken, the “national sport.” Nothing came out of that witch hunt as the real reds were in the cities and the mountains unafraid to fight for their cause.
There is a 21st century version of that today. It is Mr. Aquino’s frequent and interminable invocation of the “enemies” of his “reforms,” the people who gnaw at the foundation of what he claims as the new order of reforms, growth and integrity.
Just recently, in the form of a Lenten message to the nation, Mr. Aquino warned against those supposedly “sowing distrust” and obstructing his reforms. It was a familiar meme and in his close to five years in power, Mr. Aquino never departed from raising the issue of “enemies” out to subvert the nation’s march to civil sainthood.
But here is the question. Are there real people, real groups really, really determined to act in an organized way to frustrate his supposed crusade for good governance? Are there real people and groups out to get him and scuttle his supposed reformist agenda? Let us look at the people and the groups overtly and covertly opposed to him.
The opposition figure with a real mass following and a big megaphone (in case he opts to use that megaphone) is Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. EDSA Tres clearly manifested that. The 2010 presidential election, in which he proved he was the only viable challenger to Mr. Aquino despite a poorly-ran campaign, validated that truth. So it is interesting to find out about Mr. Estrada’s behavior in the time of Mr. Aquino.
Mr. Estrada should be placed as “Exhibit A” of good behavior. A process unleashed by Mr. Aquino jailed his senator-son. Senator Estrada was set to run for vice president in 2016 and for the presidency after. A process unleashed by the Commission on Elections unseated his governor-nephew. Mr. Estrada have taken all of these in stride, his cinematic swagger gone. Mr. Estrada, instead of rebelling against Mr. Aquino and using his popularity to undermine the Aquino administration, has been content with playing traffic cop in his city. Or reciting hackneyed phrases such as “restoring the glory of Manila.”
With all the assault – and insult – against his family, the Manila mayor was expected to be the prime opposition leader. And employ his sizable megaphone to fight Mr. Aquino in a mano-y-mano political combat. But instead of doing that, he has shirked from that role. He has been too cautious for comfort, something bordering on docility.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, would have been a natural leader in the assault against the Aquino administration. For entirely pragmatic reasons. With Mr. Aquino ousted from office, Mr. Binay would be the constitutional successor. But even with the stratospheric trust and approval ratings of Mr. Aquino wiped out, Mr. Binay has refused that role of prime presidential critic. The reason: he adores the Aquino family.
The anti-Aquino section of the clergy has been noisy but the bishops have been emitting noise that signifies nothing. The anti-Aquino bishops have no mass following and their cause, battling the spread of condoms and IUDs, is a losing cause. Population control is a valid and timely topic, with a universal resonance. There is no Romero within their ranks, a bishop who would talk of injustice, inequality, the failure of the Aquino administration to work toward a broadly-shared prosperity.
The Left has been fighting the established government from time immemorial. But the grand fulfillment of Marxist determinism cannot take place in a context of this generation. The young would rather post photos and take “selfies” than die glorious deaths that are equal the weight of the entire Sierra Madre range. No way and no how.
While the above-ground Left can ride on issues to magnify the failings of the Aquino administration, they are too weak to subvert Mr. Aquino.
The opposition to Mr. Aquino is an spontaneous, disorganized thing, mostly seen and felt from the rage of the netizens. There is even no desire to push him out of the presidency.
So when Mr. Aquino talks of organized, sinister forces out to get him and subvert his so-called reforms, he is just making up things. He is just beating up straw men and invoking phantom dissidents.