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Can The Yellows Overcome Identity Crisis Before the Elections?

Can 'Dilawan' camp return in 2022?
by Arianne Merez
Feb 22, 2021
Photo/s: Shutterstock

(Editor's note: Vice President Leni Robredo filed her candidacy for president on Oct. 7, 2021 as an independent and with the color pink as her signature.)

Thirty-five years since yellow became the trademark of the first People Power and the personalities behind it, the color no longer exclusively connotes courage and hope. Under an entirely new political universe, it's a pejorative term.

On the EDSA 1 anniversary, and one year before the 2022 national elections, the challenge is clear to the "dilawan" -- to remove the stigma from the last half-decade and reestablish themselves as a political force.

"The color (yellow) is no longer sought after. I mean, you have a very popular president who criticizes the color so if you're dilawan now, it immediately sends an unpopular message because it's very obvious that the Liberal Party has become the minority," said political analyst Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

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So powerful was yellow and the Cory Aquino Magic that her son repackaged it as "Daang Matuwid" and won the 2010 elections, which came one year after her death from cancer.

However, Aquino's shortcomings in handling several crises -- Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 and the Mamasapano carnage that left 44 police commandoes dead in 2015 -- gave critics an opening to associate the color yellow with failure in leadership.

Does criticism still work?

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Traditional politics that begs criticism from the opposition bloc failed to work for the Liberal Party, said University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Encinas-Franco.

"The old way of criticizing the administration has not worked favorably for them. That's already been established," she told reportr.

"What happened during the 2019 elections shows that the traditional criticism no longer works," she said.

Duterte cemented his power in the 2019 midterm elections when the entire lineup of the opposition, heavily backed by the Liberal Party, was decimated. The outcome was attributed by then Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo to "Duterte magic."

Even then, the opposition lineup downplayed the color yellow opting instead for an array of hues, distancing themselves from the "dilawan" criticism of the Duterte camp.

"There's no doubt that he's (Duterte) a popular president which is why they (Liberal Party) have to be careful because what they do could swing either way. It could help them or it could give the Duterte camp more advantage," Encinas-Franco said.

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The fight is still long


For Casiple, "the fight is still long" for the 2022 national elections since no politician has yet to announce intent to run for president.

"Mahaba pa iyan. Wala pa ngang naglalakas loob na magsabing tatakbo siya eh kaya it remains to be seen kung ano ang chances ng bawat isa," Casiple said.

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Roughly a year before the national elections, Vice President Leni Robredo urged her fellow Liberal Party members to "persist" (tuloy lang) despite adversity.

“The attacks might continue, the threats might become even more formidable, but we must find strength in the fact that our every effort takes us a step closer to our vision: a society where there is freedom and justice, where everyone works together to champion the welfare of all,” said party chairperson Robredo, herself the target of trolling online during the 75th anniversary of the liberals.

The Liberal Party debuted in January a younger-looking logo that will serve as its face to Gen Z and millennials online, a demographic that analyst Encinas-Franco said the yellows should tap.

"Majority of the voters are millennials and fairly young people. They should target them and study their demographics and issues," she said.


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Like Duterte, Encinas-Franco said the yellows should highlight a societal issue as the centerpiece of its campaign. For the former Davao City mayor, in 2016, it was the war on drugs.

"What he did was he made it appear like some sort of a monster that has to be feared," Encinas-Franco said. "The best way is to find an agenda that resonates with the public that has not been highlighted as much."

But until anyone makes a play for the presidency, Casiple and Encinas-Franco said the 2022 national elections is anybody's ball game.

"Until someone says 'I'm running,' it's still fair game. To win, you need to know who you're going up against," Casiple said.

"It's difficult to say how they (Liberal Party) will perform but then again, Philippine politics have had a lot of surprises before," Encinas-Franco said.

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