Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

Citizen engagement defies surveys

Apr 22, 2022, 10:27 PM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

I carefully read through the column of Randy David last April 17 at the Inquirer where he spoke about the active participation of citizens in the rallies and caravans of presidential aspirant VP Leni Robredo and her partner, Senator Kiko Pangilinan as an expression of defiance against those survey results, which portray supposed lead of a rival, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

He calls such active engagements as the citizens desire to be counted. “. We are here to be counted, and we choose pink. It is a powerful message,” David said.

“The surveys draw a picture that doesn’t include us. Governors pledge our votes as though they belonged to them,” David said.

In contrast to the anonymity of survey respondents, these are voters consciously asserting their subjectivity and agency. They will not have their votes canceled by the certitude of statistical projections that basically tell them that the game is over. Theirs is not a mere opinion passively given to an interviewer, but a commitment actively asserted in public.

This is what electoral activism is about. And we are seeing it on a national scale only for the second time since the 1986 snap presidential election that pitted the widow Cory Aquino against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. In that hastily called election, the campaign period allowed was no more than a month, David said.

I agree because every rally of the tandem—which gets bigger by the day even in supposed bailiwicks of Leni’s rival—have become a sea of pink flags, banners, posters, Tshirts and other materials with crowds chanting “di kami bayad, di kami hakot.”

But, more than the gatherings at Cory’s 1986 campaign, this year’s pink assemblies have turned into inspired occasions for showcasing the better angels of our people’s nature—their talents, their culture, creativity, basic humanity, and solidarity. They work hard to project their own charisma, so they can invest it upon the leaders they have chosen to support.

David noted the slowness of citizen engagement in expressing itself. In the early ’80s, an amorphous mass movement known as the parliament of the streets grew out of the protests against military and police atrocities under Marcos. But, in an atmosphere of repression, its activities were sporadic. The movement swelled beyond all expectations after the cold-blooded murder of the opposition Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. on Aug. 21, 1983.

It is useful to recall the defining characteristics of the crowds that the Cory campaign against Marcos drew. Mostly led by young professionals, nuns and seminarians, university students, and middle-class families, they exuded spontaneous cheerfulness and goodwill. These are the same hallmarks of the pink crowds that have swept the various capitals of the country in the closing months of the current electoral campaign.

They are driven by hope rather than by resentment, by pride in being Filipino rather than by shame and cynicism.

One will immediately note the total absence of political parties in these gatherings, a testimony to the fact that what we’re seeing here are multifunctional social movements rather than electoral machines. The election, for them, is just one arena. They thrive best in the face of adversity, when there is a serious threat to the common good and the future of the nation’s children.

All hope is indeed driven by love, and that is what makes these new movements radical.

In every rally, Leni reminds the people that their involvement is not because of the candidate running for the position but for their love of country and to ensure their future and those of their children’s.

Indeed, we are seeing a déjà vu in our political life.


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