UNDERDOGS Otso Diretso senatorial candidates flash their signature sign at a campaign rally at Cafe Poblacion in Caloocan City. —LYN RILLON
MANILA, Philippines — The question is, would they suffer the same fate?
The opposition Otso Diretso ticket struck parallels between its underdog campaign and that of the resistance Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) slate during the interim polls called by dictator Ferdinand Marcos 41 years ago on Sunday.
Laban, led then by the detained former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., won none of the 21 legislative seats in Metro Manila against the official Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL) candidates, headed by then Gov. Imelda Marcos.
Liberal Party president and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Otso Diretso campaign manager, recounted the April 7, 1978, interim Batasang Pambansa election by comparing the struggles of both tickets: lack of a large war chest and lack of popular support due to the public’s fears.
“Our older party members would recall that when the campaign was just starting, only a few would go to the rallies because the people were scared, until the crowds started to grow,” he said in a statement.
“Remember this was the time of dictatorship,” Pangilinan said.
On the eve of the election, Laban organized a noise barrage that lasted until dawn.
“People honked their horns, pounded pots and pans, burned tires in the middle of the streets. It was like New Year’s Eve,” Pangilinan said.
Otso Diretso candidate Erin Tañada, whose grandfather and namesake Lorenzo Tañada led the Laban campaign at the time, recalled that the noise barrage was only meant to last one hour but lasted the whole night.
But ultimately it didn’t change the result of the election: the 21 KBL candidates were declared victors on April 17.
Without saying a similar fate would befall Otso Diretso candidates, Pangilinan said they faced the same uphill climb.
“They (administration candidates) have more money. They are in power. The whole bureaucracy is campaigning for them,” the senator said.
The Otso Diretso ticket is composed of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Sen. Bam Aquino, former law school dean Chel Diokno, Marawi peace advocate Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Tañada.
While the lack of resources could be daunting, Pangilinan said he was inspired by the outpouring of public support for the Otso Diretso candidates.
“We have more than 16,000 volunteers who are going house-to-house to campaign for our candidates. Many make their own posters, jingles and other campaign materials for them,” he said.
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