MULA SA MASA, PARA SA MASA

CULTURAL NOTES
June 23, 2016

Kidapawan Detainees, April 16, 2016

[a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong, used by Duterte in the campaign]

By Arturo P. Garcia

Still in denial, outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III attributes the landslide victory of the incoming President Digong Duterte to “ an exceptionally unconventional campaign.”

Is this a smack of sour grapes reaction? But was it an exceptional unconventional campaign?

According to Joselito “Penpen” Libres, also a former rebel like Evasco, there was no complicated strategy in the campaign. It was simply a mass movement for change, he said.

This may explain why one of Duterte’s favorite lines is “gikan sa masa, para sa masa (from the masses, to the masses),” lifted from a quote by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and which Duterte used as the title of his weekly TV program in the city.

According to Libres, grassroots leaders of the Duterte campaign, especially in Mindanao, believed that the people wanted change and saw it was possible through Duterte. It was a belief in the people’s capacity to bring about change when the chance to do it, in this case the elections, presented itself.

“The principal strategy was to push for a campaign that relies on mass movement,” said Libres, one of the prime movers of the Duterte campaign in Mindanao.

Libres said it was a three-step strategy—inform, organize and mobilize. It sounds like a classic leftist strategy. And it is.

Libres said the campaign team was composed mainly of former leftist activists who bravely fought the Marcos dictatorship.

He said former cadres, who went underground during the dark days of martial law, composed the core of Duterte’s campaign team in Mindanao.

“Many of the members of the campaign have activist backgrounds,” Libres said.

“In the grassroots level, there were many former activists, who now work in government, NGOs and private businesses, who were involved in the campaign,” Libres told Inquirer.

He said many former activists, who surfaced after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and supported Duterte, kept communication lines open with former comrades who were still in the armed struggle.

The main advantage of a campaign run by former cadres and activists, according to Libres, was it gave the campaign a grassroots touch and helped build a foundation that would be uncompromising on principles and a pro-poor agenda.

So that’s the exceptionally unconventional campaign Aquino III is talking about.

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