When Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay took the side of the Iglesia ni Cristo horde in last weeks Metro Manila rallyemageddon, they actually thought the widespread disapproval of the Aquino government would garner them political points from not only the INC but the overall Filipino public.
What these two did not realize was that the advent of social media meant a more intelligent public engaged in a more thoughtful discourse.
Yes, there were still the crass and bastos posts. But I would like to look at these as exasperated reactions to a frustrating situation.
They are trapped in a 5-6 hour traffic jam caused by people who have a beef against the government but they have nothing to do with it. They just want to go home and rest, but the horde would not let them do that.
They want their government to do something and the people they expected to call out the government and take their side, Poe and Binay, against a widely perceived unpopular administration, takes the side of the horde.
So they post their frustration on social media.
Many are angry. Most have reached the spilling point of their patience. Everyone not part of the INC agrees it was improper, indecent and irresponsible for that religious organization to give everybody else grief. The millions of residents of Metro Manila rose up on social media to condemn the acts of the less that 20,000 people massed on EDSA.
And Poe and Binay did not see this. They played their cards like true trapos, pandering to the perceived current emotional tide not realizing it was a simple splash in a basin.
Social media showed what true and sincere actions can do to raise public approval.
12 hours before the INC rally, DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima was in the bottom 20 of the senatoriables for 2016. By Monday morning, social media was awash with approval and praises for De Lima. I will not be surprised if she tops the next survey as a senatorial candidate.
What was obvious was that people knew what was going on. Shouts and demands for “separation of church and state” from INC were met with questions of “what do you want” from those not members of the Iglesia.
The public began discussing the issue of “separation of church and state” on social media. An informed group of lawyers and legal experts started explaining the phrase. By Sunday, even church goers were studiously discussing it. It was all I could hear in the service.
And still, Poe and Binay refused to back down. They dug into their position, alienating them from the bigger electorate they needed to woe for next year.
Mar Roxas, was no better, but at least his pronouncement got a better reception and placed him in a more positive light. His inaction, though, caused people to compare this rally to rallies of the left where cops would be present with water cannons and truncheons.
Still, social media was a true gauge of people’s emotions that weekend. Where in the past De Lima would have been devoured by negative reaction, this past weekend showed support and approval. Her tough stand against lawlessness took the hearts of the public.
There is a lesson here for everyone, if they would only take pains to look for it.
For De Lima, the right moral stand can really boost her image, long tainted by her pandering to the wishes of her spoiled brat boss in Malacanang.
For Poe and Binay, the days of traditional politics are gone. Social media, the instantaneous communication of the public among themselves about issues that concern them, have made it impossible for politicians to make a fool of the electorate the way they used to.
For the Iglesia ni Cristo, might is not always right, and the show of force may only have led to the demise of the so-called INC block vote because a public challenged may opt to go against your choice. You are after all only 1.4 million against 98 million.
To Noynoy Aquino and his cabinet, the public now know what they want. 5-years of leadership by marketing campaign (daang matuwid, pag walang corrupt walang mahirap?) has made the Filipinos realize you were all talk. We are still mahirap, so you must be corrupt, is the reverse of your campaign. And it is killing you and your precious successor.
For Mar Roxas, it is now time to be your own self. Man up, be who you really are. Stop presenting a marketing image of yourself. You can continue Aquino’s line and still be yourself. Your position during the INC rally was well accepted, but you failed to follow through. As we are taught in sports, all actions need follow through, it is what completes the shot.
In essence, we are a maturing democracy, with people educating themselves about the leader they wish to follow. And if you are a leader like Poe and Binay, you will be left behind by the more dynamic kind.
Many will say we are at the pit of our existence as a nation and as a democracy. I choose to think we are at the tipping point. Our experience, frustration, exasperation and disappointment in our elected leaders now will soon teach us to look outside the box, to find those who are truly willing to serve us.
Not long ago, the Filipino masses would have joined the INC rally, lured by action fun and celebration. Now, they would rather rush home to their family and spend a long weekend with their kids.
I guess the INC failed to see this and thus incurred the wrath of the many. The leaders who chose order now look really good. And those politicians who took their side? They are now tainted until their most sacred day of reckoning, on May of 2016.