In case you haven’t heard, consider this a heads-up. The high holidays of those of the Yellow persuasion are nearly upon us and by Saturday, Feb. 25, the political noise they have been generating lately can be expected to reach its fevered pitch.
On that day, the remnants of the old Aquino political dynasty, unceremoniously removed from power with the ascent of Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency, will hold yet another of their “people power” rallies on Edsa. But unlike in the past decades, when the Edsa Revolution of 31 years ago was remembered mostly in reverential ceremonies by the Yellows, there is a palpable sense of urgency among the remaining faithful to be as shrill and disruptive as they can possibly get.
In the run-up to the 25th, the chief agents of the Yellows in the Senate and outside of it have already been making as big a racket as they can. Thus, Senator Antonio Trillanes, the man who was sprung from jail by the last Aquino president, has revived his old charges that Duterte and his family have billions in ill-gotten wealth stashed in banks; a retired policeman from Davao, meanwhile, has recanted his testimony absolving Duterte of running an anti-crime vigilante group, which the ex-cop now claims has been paid directly by the former mayor to kill indiscriminately.
Over the past weekend, the leaders of the Catholic Church have also stepped up the pressure on Duterte to account for the killings perpetrated in his first months in office in the implementation of his anti-drug campaign. They have made the embattled Senator Leila de Lima their latest ward, ignoring the serious charges made against her involving corruption and aiding and abetting big-time drug dealers during her term as secretary of justice.
The “Walk for Life” rally of the Church is intended as a foretaste of the coming rally on Saturday, when a supposed bigger crowd than the few thousands mustered up a week earlier will be assembled on Edsa. But for the remainder of this week, only the Yellows know what’s on their frenetic and febrile schedule.
There is a sense of desperation in the Yellow camp, born out of a pressing need to be able to summon up a huge crowd on Edsa by the weekend. The Yellows know that if they can’t come up with a credible show of force on their self-appointed D-Day, they could be finally consigned to the dustbin of the current political scene—and even of Philippine history.
And so between now and then, they will be making as much noise as they can. The political survival of their already depleted ranks depends upon it.
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I actually agree with the Yellows who are seeking to make the Feb. 25 Edsa rally a street referendum, as it were, of their twin goals to bring down Duterte and to reinstate their faction as the dominant political class. But they must understand that, if they fail to bring out the warm bodies that they need to validate their existence, there is going to be hell to pay for that, as well.
Having lost the elections last May, the Yellows need to prove to the people and to themselves that they are still a force to reckon with and that Duterte’s presence in Malacañang is an aberration that they can correct. Besides, if Duterte is somehow removed from office, he would be replaced by Vice President Leni Robredo—a true creation of the Aquino dynasty who is, the Yellows hope, not going to be traitor to the forces that worked to install her to the presidency like Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in 2001.
With no elections scheduled until 2019, the streets are the only legal venue left for the Yellows to use in their quest to regain their base of elitists and elite wannabes. If they fail on Saturday, they will be forced to try other, equally familiar but bloodier methods, like actual rebellion.
As for the Duterte administration, I think it needs to focus on its work and not fall into the trap of getting into the political mud-wrestling ring that the Yellows have prepared for it. I think that by ignoring the noise and doing actual work, the government can convince the citizens that the Yellows have already ensured their own irrelevance and are now working on their political extinction.
That said, this is why I don’t think Press Secretary Martin Andanar helped the administration’s cause yesterday by accusing the media in the Senate of accepting bribes in order to write stories about Trillanes. This is precisely what I mean about the error of getting down and dirty with a senator whose mission in life is to get Duterte and his people to engage him in a dirt-throwing contest.
Even if Trillanes cannot really win in his chosen venue in a battle using his favorite weapons, there is just no sense in fighting him there—or anywhere. Mudslinging is Trillanes’ game, after all, and even if you emerge victorious in a battle with him in the gutter, you will still end up smelling like a sewer.
At the end of the day, the government should just carry on doing its job of helping the poor and the needy. It should let the citizens themselves come to the conclusion that the Yellows are engaged in a futile and desperate attempt to regain power, if not by their rallies and their rehashed, discredited allegations, then by other, more destructive means.
If the Yellows are as spent a political force and as irrelevant as I believe them to be, there’s no use getting as het up as them. Let the people decide this referendum with their feet as they steer clear of the old ways that brought the Aquinos and their minions to power 31 years ago.