Friday, January 06, 2006

No, there’s no Grand Realignment of the Philippine Opposition

I had planned to join the debate on the hottest political issue in town these days – the buzz about an impending alliance between former Presidents Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada yesterday. But then, I was distracted by other matters. That’s good, because things have become even clearer today, so I am happy I waited.

Various media outlets had suggested that FVR was contemplating to jump ship leaving GMA behind to join the opposition. According to fellow blogger (and journalist) Ricky Carandang, FVR had realized “he needs a Plan B.”

It is always good to have a Plan B. On the other hand, talking to your political opponents is not only legitimate but also mandated in a democratic order. Talking and drinking wine does not automatically mean going to bed and staying there. FVR is quite comfortable where he is now. In my eyes, he is too smart to leave the ruling camp to join up with… whom?

If the opposition were indeed a serious contender for power (and, thus, a real threat to GMA’s reign) the scenario of switching sides could make sense for a politician of the likes of FVR who is said to have ambitions for a second shot at power. But let’s be realistic: the opposition is nowhere close to unity, and even less a threat to the government. Adding a new leader of the bearing of FVR to the already disunited oppositionist camp would not enhance unity. To the contrary, it would create even more personal competition and, therefore, also disunity.

“Why should FVR make any move to form an alliance with the opposition … when they themselves are far from forging a united front?”, was the short and sharp comment of Ramos’ media adviser Ed Malay, as quoted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In my view, the latest rumor mongering is part of one more grand political spin which, as is well known, is so common in Philippine domestic politics. Many people go for it, “as we love political gossip,” confided a young liberal friend with whom I regularly discuss developments.

On the other hand, foreign observers don’t seem to get too excited about all the noise: “It’s too stupid to write about,” said a senior foreign correspondent. That might be strong wording, but it’s a fact that the foreign media are practically ignoring the domestic political rumblings and focusing their reporting and commentary instead on other news items much more becoming to GMA: the rise of the Philippine Peso and – to quote from the front page headline of yesterday’s International Herald Tribune – the "new, bullish mood (that) grips Manila.”

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