WHEN Tindig Pilipinas was formally launched with fanfare at a Mass celebrated solemnly at the UP Church of the Holy Sacrifice on September 21, 2017, all the Liberal Party politicians, including former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Vice President Leni Robredo, and former presidential candidate Mar Roxas, turned up to be counted.
The event was telegenic because the opposition officially dropped the color yellow from its signage. It also signified that Tindig would not be a mere extension of the Liberal Party. The opposition seemed to be gathering together at last.
President Duterte went along with the show by proclaiming September 21, “a national day of protest,” a non-working and no-school day. Pro-Duterte groups held their own pro-government rally on that day to protest against low pay in government, starting with the President’s paycheck. The communists, as ever, decided to put up their own show. The bishops rang the bells in the Catholic parishes.
Tindig means stand up
To comprehend the situation, let us talk guidance first from the lexicographer Father Leo James English. Father English was the Australian compiler and editor of two of the first most widely used bilingual dictionaries in the Philippines: namely, the English–Tagalog Dictionary (1965) and the Tagalog–English Dictionary (1986). The dictionaries were produced in the course of his 51 years of religious service in the Philippines. He was a member of the Redemptorists, or the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a religious order that has been engaged in preaching missions in the Philippines using the vernacular language for more than 70 years.
In Father English’s Tagalog-English Dictionary (National Book Store,Manila,1986), “Tindig” means: 1) n. deportment, bearing; 2) n. posture, pose; 3) v. to stand up; and 4) v. to erect, build, construct.
When Manindigan was founded during the Marcos era, the word meant, said Father English, “to stand one’s ground”.
Senate should ask
When the Senate opens its inquiry today into the alleged “fake news” and “shaming” online of seven senators, the committee on mass media should also ask the following questions, which will help shed light on the entire issue of fakery.
Was the big launch of “Tindig Pilipinas” on September 21 fake news?
Why has Tindig disappeared from the political scene? Who speaks for it now?
Since among those prominently featured at the launch were the Senate minority leader, LP president Kiko Pangilinan (author of the disputed resolution), and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino, the Senate should ask them all to enlighten the chamber and the nation about the status of Tindig Pilipinas. Will it ever stand up again?
If Cocoy Dayao, the alleged sole proprietor of the anti-Duterte websites, turns out to be a puppet of the Liberal Party, the Senate should also ask whether Tindig Pilipinas is a puppet of the Liberal Party—even if Tindig repudiated the yellow color, and embraced only the bodies of former President Aquino, former Aquino officials, and living LP politicians.
Soft launch and hard launch
Like many Philippine birthings, Tindig Pilipinas had a soft launch, and a hard launch, one for testing the waters, the other for fanfare.
At the soft launch on September 18 at Club Filipino, Tindig Pilipinas was officially announced.
It was announced to media that Tindig is a union of coalitions and citizens who are alarmed and outraged by alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Tindig seeks solidarity and action against violence and contempt for law, amid the public apathy and indifference to the rising number of killings in the country.
Among those present at the launch were Liberal Party president Pangilinan, Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th and Hontiveros, and Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano.
Members of President Aquino’s Cabinet were also in attendance, including Edwin Lacierda, Teresita Deles, and Armin Luistro.
They were joined by groups such as the Ateneo University Loyola, CODE-NGO, De La Salle Brothers-Philippines, Alyansa ng mga Abogado para sa Bayan (ALAB), August Twenty One Movement (ATOM), Black and White Movement, Akbayan, Millennials Against Dictators (MAD), Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), The Silent Majority (TSM), US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), and many others.
The groups said they had come together to seek an end to the nightmare of killings in the war on drugs.
Former Civil Service Commission chair Karina Constantino David, a member of the Tindig coordinating group, declared:
“We call upon the administration to refocus their efforts in the war on drugs from extra-judicial killings to a healing approach where drug dependency is treated as a health issue and not a criminal one.”
Thereafter, Tindig had its hard launch on September 21, the 45th commemoration of President Ferdinand Marcos’ proclamation of martial law on September 21, 1972.
Former President Aquino and Vice President Robredo led in celebrating the “Mass for Justice” at the UP church. The mass was designed to commemorate the martial law regime and its victims.
Most of the leaders of the Liberal Party were present, including Senators Franklin Drilon, Aquino and Pangilinan, and Mar Roxas.
Significantly, the members of the LP, including Noynoy Aquino wore white shirts.
This time, David boasted that Tindig was/is a coalition of coalitions, with no less than 50 organizations engaged in the movement.
Senator Aquino urged citizens to be more vocal in expressing what they don’t like in the Duterte administration.
Roxas, who lost to Duterte in the 2016 elections, said he does not want to blame Filipinos for electing its current leader whose war on drugs campaign has killed thousands.
It is doubtful if the following day, any of these people could still remember Tindig.
Robredo deserts Tindig
On Thursday, September 28, the first sign of trouble in Tindig came out in a big way.
Vice President Robredo, the LP chairman distanced herself from Tindig. Robredo made the statement just a week after attending the mass for justice.
Robredo pointedly declared in an interview in Naga City, which her office subsequently circulated: “I am not part of Tindig Pilipinas. I was only invited along with those who are part of the fight against martial law before. That mass was important because it was a commemoration of the long period of struggle.
“But I am not part of Tindig Pilipinas. I think it is better for groups like this to be organic and to come from ordinary citizens, without the meddling of politicians.”
Then she elaborated and dug the knife even deeper.
“The moment politicians take part in that, it’s as though their intentions are tainted in doubt, and the discussion detracts from the true issue,” she said.
“Politicians like us will only adversely affect movements like this, because our intentions will be in doubt,” she said.
No sign of life
Today, we are hard put to feel the pulse of Tindig Pilipinas. You talk to any of the supposed stalwarts of Tindig, and you quickly learn that no one knows whether the movement is still alive, or planning an activity.
Someone should ask Karina David this question: “Will Tindig suffer the same fate as Kompre?” Kompre was a pro-Aquino reform movement, with David as lead convenor, that was launched at the Ateneo with fanfare in August 2014. A week later, it was dead and forgotten.
Tindig is following the same template. Tindig today is on life support.
It feeds on every scrap of negative news from abroad that is critical of Duterte in the way he is running the government and conducting the drug war. It clings to the forlorn hope that America under Trump will again meddle in the Philippines and sponsor regime change.
It also takes heart from the suicidal declarations of President Duterte that ironically gives Tindig its only reason to stand up and defy him. When DU30 challenged Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to resign with him, it woke up everyone, including Robredo. The guy is actually talking about quitting. If they can persuade Sereno and Morales to resign with him, who knows?
But Duterte is too clever. He is just playing games. For him, this is an exercise in fakery.
Duterte quitting the presidency is as fake as Tindig Pilipinas.