GO must redirect its strategy – fast!
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-03-13
The February 24-27 survey of the SWS (Social Weather Stations) shows the Genuine Opposition (GO) enjoying an imposing lead over Team Unity (TU). Nine of the top 12, including the top 6, are anti-Arroyo candidates. Just as I wrote in my February 15 column, the strong anti-Arroyo national sentiment is the wind behind the Opposition sails.

Team Unity’s Ralph Recto, Tito Sotto and Joker Arroyo are in the top 12 but they are not exactly what you would call diehards of the regime. Identified diehards of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – Mike Defensor, Prospero Pichay and Miguel Zubiri – are out of the winning 12, underscoring the obvious.

However, GO stands to lose as much as three slots if it does not get its house in order and if it continues harping on the wrong issues like the unnecessary assault on Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s decision to run as an independent.

GO previously expressed willingness to adopt and support Kiko even if he ran as an independent. So, why belabor something that really should be considered a non-issue? GO members would have done the smarter thing if they had just brushed aside the non-issue and went on with their campaign. The results of the February survey of SWS clearly showed that voters were not at all affected by Kiko’s independent status. In fact the SWS polls showed him as the top pick, dislodging Loren Legarda.

My Cebuano friend Roland Redoble, who joins my quest for an enlightened leadership for our country, wrote me his views about this non-issue:

"Billy, people should take notice of Sen. Pangilinan’s uncompromising stance on his current run for the Philippine Senate. Political strand like his choice to be "principled" and "independent" will eventually create the kind of rope that will bind an enlightened Philippine politics. Of course, the Opposition would hurt from his obstinacy. But in the same vein, the administration has been equally repudiated. Will he win? Most likely his political stock has gone up with this unequivocal pronouncement… We need politicians with Sen. Pangilinan’s gravitas. A few more like him on the national stage would probably make us begin to erase the blight of entrepreneurial politics in our national life."

I too admired Kiko’s decision to run as an independent. I have to – I’ve written reams about the need to break loose from the crooked dead-end routes drawn by the Estrada and Arroyo regimes. Kiko is one senatorial candidate who drew his own route.

GO must not waste its time, energy and focus on Kiko – he does not have to be their problem. Joseph Estrada is GO’s real problem, not Kiko. Not only that, GO has serious problems focusing on the central issue, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). GO victory in both the Senate and Congress will depend on how successfully they focus national attention on GMA as the main issue.

Already, GO is being pulled into the wrong arena of debating GMA’s performance on the economy when the real issue is her very legitimacy. Instead of continuously attacking the regime – and the issues are both powerful and plenty – GO often finds itself on the defensive.

The UN Report on Political Killings here, the unabated harassment on Alan Peter Cayetano (from fielding a nuisance candidate to now questioning his citizenship just as they did with Fernando Poe Jr.), the highly irregular deployment of AFP troops in Metro Manila – these are power keg issues that GO have not capitalized on.

GO should use at least 30% of their media resources on a thematic campaign that highlights the GMA legitimacy issues (Garci, Esperon, Ebdane et al), the repression and suppression (killings, break up of rallies, libel suits et al) and the attempts at imposing virtual martial law (PP1017, EO464, CPR).

All those GO ads that promote the individual candidates mean nothing to people who are looking for a champion against long-standing and long-overdue issues against GMA. Rev up the anti-GMA passion and GO will win by a landslide. Allow the anti-GMA passion to dissipate and GO is doomed.

What’s more, Joseph Estrada continues to be the single biggest divisive factor for GO. I’ve said many times that this country can only move forward if it moved out of the Estrada and Arroyo eras. This is also why a third force presents itself as a real alternative because it gives the option to move out of the Estrada-Arroyo trap.

GO scores valid points in attacking the fallacy of the regime’s claims of an economic boom predicated on the rising peso and the more upbeat stock market. However, they shot themselves in the foot by presenting arguments in the context of the Estrada versus Arroyo rivalry. It’s so much like offering a gray horse in place of a black horse to a consumer who really wants to ride a motor bike.

GO needs to stop and redirect their campaign strategy. With the wrong strategy, even winnable candidates can still lose.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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