There’s light at the end of the tunnel, Reader. Two events this week have convinced me.
The results of the Palawan plebiscite, on their own, actually already had my heart leaping with joy.
Only consider: On one side, you had most of the political families in Palawan who wanted the break-up of the province into three provinces. And you can see why. There would be more governorships, more congressional seats, more government positions to go around.
Then, there were also the corporations wanting to get in on Palawan’s natural resources, figuring out that the partition would give them three times more chances of getting what they wanted.
And finally, there was China, which would have the same reasoning as the corporations cited above.
That makes a formidable team.
Then, on the other side, you had the Save Palawan Movement comprised of NGOs, CSOs, academics, grassroots movements, etc., mainly trying to preserve the environmental and natural resource integrity of Palawan. “One Palawan” was their advocacy. In other words, the people.
It looked like an easy win for the three-Palawan team, what with the financial and political resources they had. Moreover, the Supreme Court had rejected the SavePalawan/One Palawan plea to stop the plebiscite. But this did not dishearten the latter forces, and they soldiered on.
And won—in 19 municipalities out of 23, and 177,000 over 123,000 votes. That is what I call a rout. Even the municipalities that would have benefited from the partition voted against it.
It is an inspiring story.
What are my takeaways from this unprecedented (David won over Goliath is the description) victory?
It has disproven the oft-cited statement that in a simple yes or no question, the yes almost always wins.
The not-so-secret weapon of the Save Palawan/One Palawan Movement are its women—specifically Cynthia del Rosario and Gerthie Mayo-Anda.
It puts paid to the belief that the Filipino voter is dumb, or does not bother to analyze the issues. Just put it to them, and if it makes sense, they will do the right thing.
One factor that cannot be discounted is that the amount of time of the campaign period played a part. If you have no financial resources, you need more time to reach your audience mano-a-mano.
The behavior of the leadership was also crucial: Gov. Jose Alvarez must be congratulated for what he did not do—use goons or guns—and for what he did—concede defeat at the earliest possible time.
And as if that were not enough to make my week comes the news of the 1Sambayan group springing up to unite the opposition. Their reasoning makes sense, and is therefore very attractive:
President Duterte was elected by a plurality, not a majority. There were, after all, six candidates for president in the 2016 elections. Apparently, less than 40 percent of the actual voters, and less than 30 percent of registered voters, voted for him. So if the opposition does unite, the chances of victory are very great (60 percent of the total vote)
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