The opening salvo of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance held at the Plaza Independencia last Tuesday was quite a show of force.
People came in droves, with crowd estimates ranging from 25,000, 50,000 even up to 80,000, mostly “hakot” or people bused in from different towns and city barangays according to reports.
Getting people to attend rallies require logistics, and I’m not only referring to provisions like transportation and painit (light snacks). Easy for Mike Rama to summon supporters from different city barangays because he has command over the city government’s resources.
Suspended Gov. Gwen Garcia is out of the Capitol but she has the support of many town mayors who, I heard, were given a quota of busing 200 warm bodies to Plaza Independencia last Tuesday.
Garcia underlined the strength of her party One Cebu by saying it delivered votes for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Team Unity senatorial bets in 2007. The context to this feat, if one may call it that, is this was six years into GMA’s presidency and every politician wanted to be in the graces of the sitting President. And yet despite GMA’s support and Garcia’s political strength, their 2010 presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro lost dismally to Noynoy Aquino in Cebu.
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Meanwhile, the Liberal Party chose the historic Plaza Miranda in Manila to kick off the national campaign with President Aquino endorsing Team PNoy to voters nationwide. The choice of Plaza Miranda threw us back to the 1971 LP rally which was bombed by suspected communist guerrillas but many believed to be Marcos elements who wanted to cripple the LP physically and psychologically. The party was then led by Senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jovito Salonga and Gerardo Roxas.
The high point of PNoy’s speech, “May ilang nagsasabi na nilalabanan ang katiwalian, kung ganon bakit niyo kakampi ngayon ang nakinabang sa nakaraang administrasyon?” was rather odd. Instead of attacking the opposition, President Aquino referred to Arroyo allies in the UNA slate like Mitos Magsaysay who he did not identify. I’m not sure if the hit was strong enough to make people vote straight daang matuwid.
News anchor Jessica Soho expressed my sentiments exactly when she asked a news colleague covering the rally if there were other specific issues raised against the opposition during the LP kick off activity.
There being none, the 2013 elections becomes confusing because the party lines are blurry. UNA does not want to cross the LP, and calls itself constructive opposition. The harshest that it could muster is to dilute the current 6.6 percent economic growth, saying it has not helped the majority. UNA promises more benefits for a greater number of people. No specifics, just call it “daang maganda”.
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I was monitoring my favourite broadcast stations early Tuesday evening to hear if the opposition rally was being broadcast live, but dyLA merely posted updates in the social networking site.
One thing I missed in past political campaigns was the live broadcast of political rallies and miting de avance, which would last till the wee hours of the morning. The events define current issues and help people to vote intelligently.
Radio broadcast obviously cancels the need for people to leave the comfort of their homes, but in the mammoth crowd that attended the rallies of the Corazon Aquino-led political opposition during the snap elections of 1986, this practical wisdom does not hold true.
Even if Cory was on the airlanes, many people still went out to listen to her and other speakers deliver stirring speeches against the dictatorship. People were riveted by the issues. The program would only be interrupted by a few song numbers and funny banter of local talents. Actually the issues had been joined even before Cory went on stage but people still went to her rallies in order to be counted.
Nowadays, political gatherings are like clones of ASAP and Eat Bulaga because many politicians have really nothing to offer, while some are averse to answer issues hurled against them. Better to bring in the artistas and entertain people instead of making more promises on top of unfulfilled ones.