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2016 Philippines Presidential Election - Could this be the Politics that Will Save Us All?

Re-post: As the Philippines barangay elections will be held on May 14, 2018, I think it is good to remind Filipinos once again the essence and flow of elections in the country. Local or national elections, not much of a difference if its about our culture of voting. Choose the right candidate, vote him or her. And with this post, you can be guided.


Suffrage is the right to vote. With over 54 million voters, the Philippines has long been a country known for promoting this right of every Filipino citizen. With a relatively simple process of registration (but a bit time consuming) thru the Commission on Election (COMELEC) post, known as biometrics registration, anyone who is at least 18 years of age will have that freedom to choose the candidate he or she wishes to lead the country over the next 3 to 6 years. In the national level, these candidates will hold the offices of the President, Vice President and Senators, among others.


On the Photos: Ad Banner of National Election Candidates (posted randomly)









So now, the big question is:

Who will you vote?


Ask this to the Filipinos and they will give you varying, contradicting, bias, surprising and sometimes offending answers. There are a few in-depth reasons for this. For one, polls will tell that Filipinos will always have a divided vision towards choosing the next political leader of the land primarily due to decades-old political allies and rivalries. For two, this could be highly attributed to the high loyalty of the masses to a certain political personality or family. It goes without saying that if a politician is from your town or city, your vote will automatically goes to him/her. For three, it is all about dirty politics.

Philippines politics is not at all new to the world. Once known as a corrupt country, voting in this country is tainted with malice, unfairness and undeniably violence in some areas. Years before election, campaigns begin to crawl thru the traditional word-of-mouth strategy. If the barangay leader is an ally of a politician with this intention to run for office in the coming year, there would be obvious signs his already campaigning for that guy. One of the obvious proof are those giveaways during Christmas or New Year breaks such as calendars and gift baskets with greetings from a politician.

Three months before the Election Day, the turn of events in the Philippine political system is happening in a completely bizarre way. And this blog is about to expose to you the deeper truth behind Philippine politics...and you better listen.

Pre-Campaign Period
The television industry is the biggest screen of the Philippines political system. This is where politics is shown as it happens, where it happens. Before February 9, the start of the campaign period for the national post, you will see infomercials of people-to-run for office. Well, that’s actually not at all a strange motion picture to witness. It is the norm of the political business in this country. To the tune of popular jingles, direct endorsements by a showbiz personality, and curated presentations of one’s significant accomplishments; these are what characterized a typical political TV advertisement. Many politicians introduce themselves to the public this way - which according to the rule of law is “not a form of campaigning”. From about a hundred thousand to millions of budget, you will be aired in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao thru the national television channels days before official campaign period begins.


On the Photos: Ad Banner of National Election Candidates (posted randomly)




Campaign Period – February 9 to March 9
Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia; these two are the top visionaries of polls and surveys in the country over the past decades. Almost every two weeks, there is this data release publicly revealing who’s leading and who’s trailing. The basic question of “If election will be held today, who are you going to vote?” results into a mountain of confidence for the winning candidate and disappointment for the loosing ones. But that is just the crust of the richly-flavored reports after reports. The very core of statistics’ influence to the voting public as well as to the running-for-office politicians pops out a few weeks before the big day. There is something red hot spicy stuff going on in the town – a sauce flavor which for some is even better to taste than that sweet and refreshing blend of democracy.

There arise a period where politicians hate each other to the fullest level.

In front of supporters, even bashers, one will speak something spicy against the other candidate – to the point where it could really affect the next result of the polls. It is not just about saying “I am better than him/her”. That is still sweet to hear actually. What you’ll hear is like this: “That da#$@>! candidate will do nothing but induce harm to the people of this country”. Like in most countries, this is what they call “adding spice to the menu”. In a political rally, statement like that is in fact something pleasing to hear for many. You’ll hear applause, cheers, loud voices, echoes and sounds akin to the approval of that spicy throw of words against somebody. You know for sure where this spicy exchange of words is heading on. The so-called “mudslinging” just started. You throw me mud, I’ll throw you dang.

2016 Presidential Race - How is it going?
There are five political icons running for presidency in the Philippines today. They are Rodrigo Duterte, Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas, Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago. You probably know who’s leading the surveys right now, do you? The exciting world of political campaigning tells the Philippine nation these two big things: First, who really my candidate is? Second, who really are we Filipino voters?

I watched the last two Presidential debates aired by two of the top TV stations in the country. The debates are intense but at the same time informative, useful and empowering. The latest Vice Presidential debates sounds the same. The atmosphere is intensely spicy - war of words.

It is like exposing dirty secrets after dirty secrets. That candidate who says “I’m better” gets the support of the people. That who falls victim of accusations, amazingly, sometimes gets the sympathy. There’s been a long debate of who’s really better: that who’s charismatic (karisma sa masa) or that who’s smart. Believe it or not, charismatic candidates oftentimes get the most support from the masses. If you would recall some of the slogans like “Erap para sa mahihirap” (Erap for the poor) and “Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” (if there is no corrupt, there’ll be no poor), those are like campaigns blended with charisma – which both turns good in a way for the running candidate. They got elected in office.

Yes, that is how complicated matters are in the Philippines presidential race today. Voters see and hear tons and tons of bad news from almost every medium of communication – television, radio, newspaper, social media, internet, ad banners, etc. This is the norm and it happens, on a daily basis. Best of luck candidates!


On the Photos: Ad Banner of National Election Candidates (posted randomly)






What about violence???
Fortunately, each candidate in the national post is well-guarded not only by their private security personnel but also by the Philippines armed forces - PNP and AFP – during the entire campaign period. But the alarming situation happens in the local politics. Election-related violence is rampant in this country and it appears to be just a common thing year after year. From death threats to ambush, there is news to fly across the nation during the campaign days, despite of gun ban. And please read this line again: Killings of political candidates happen in the Philippines.

May 9 – Election Day
Weeks before the Election Day, you can see color-coded shirts in many political rallies everywhere in the country. Yellow, blue, red; these are the trending colors also serving as brands of each political party. Faces, names and tag lines; these info of course won’t be removed from those shirts, not even on banners. Wrist bands, towels, head caps, vests, tarpaulins, pamphlets, stickers; these things are everywhere during the Election Day. Vote buying? There is and it is up to you to find out how much.

It is the digital era of election in the Philippines. With the use of machines that count votes with efficiency far beyond the offer of the rusty-old manual system, voting in the country has significantly changed. Those countless Manila papers, pentel pens, ball pens, canvass sheets, black boards and yellow-painted ballot boxes, these election paraphernalia are nearly gone and were already replaced by automatic counting machines. It takes decades before Philippines becomes this systematic in terms of its election process, however, there is still something wrong going on along the way. What is it? Many don’t believe in the machine-based system’s accuracy. Days after the official election result is out, courts are starting to become busy receiving complaints attributed to “failure of election” on a town or city. They call it “dagdag-bawas” (or add-subtract) scheme. This is the accusation one will throw against the officiating party, usually the COMELEC officers, if not against his/her opponent who reigns victorious. Even three years after the election, you will still hear news about the incumbent official being disqualified by the COMELEC.

What are we expecting this year?
Every vote counts, of course. From the poorest and to the wealthiest Filipino, who ever he or she is, his/her vote will be counted. Clean election? Maybe. Fair election? Could be. With these issues of vote buying, violence, premature campaigning and mudslinging, could you say that the Philippine election system is that fair and clean today? Democratic? That’s what they say.

Over the past three or four months, I saw, hear and felt the voices of candidates, particularly those of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, in the national television. I’m afraid this is yet again another politics that would not save us all. Yes, some maybe saved from intense poverty and crimes, but not all. Some maybe served better on their health and financial needs, but not all. Some may have better lives, but not all. With over 100 million people, I’m afraid not all of us will see a better and brighter future, again. But I’m not afraid to say this at all: Change for the better will happen if Filipinos would elect that right candidate this time, again.

The "Daang Matuwid" (straight path), frankly speaking, did big changes to this country. I did not vote for President Noynoy Aquino but I like many of what he did to this country. Like any other president or politicians-in-office, he's just a human and six years is not enough to change a rusty country into a well-polished Pearl of the Orient Seas. The hope for a better and brighter Philippines lies in the hands of the next chief leader, definitely.

Good track record? It matters but not that much. Years of experience in office? It matters but not that big. Political will, I agree that it will do good instead of harms. Honestly, there is one thing that is more important for me beyond all these candidate’s features. That is:

People’s smart exercise of their right to vote.

That would save us all, no doubt.



About this Post
This post is for information campaign purposes only and has no any intention of promoting candidates, even demoting them. Information especially photos are for presentation purposes only. They were captured from public places and were uploaded in this blog to serve their sole purpose – deliver information. The author just expresses his thoughts about the truths behind the Philippine political system being a citizen of the country. If you find any misleading, bias, offending or unfair words, statements or opinions in this post, please contact the author. He is willing to take out information of that nature and express his apologies, if necessary.

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