THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
“Has the political pot started to boil?”
A colleague in the local government sector asked me that question last week when we met at the inauguration of the LRT Line 2 extension project.
He said he felt that politics in the country “has started heating up,” particularly at the national level. He wanted to know if I had the same observation and if the season for character assassination associated with a forthcoming electoral contest may have already commenced.
My answer was, “I don’t know.”
Like me, most Filipinos are probably too busy, too distracted, too focused on surviving the pandemic and their economic pains to even notice the “boiling of the political pot.”
My colleague was quick to point out that all the signs of the forthcoming political battles are already evident. He said potential aspirants to key elective positions have been making themselves seen and heard more often lately. Some of them have been “pairing up,” my colleague said, in an apparent move to “tickle the public imagination” about possible tandems. Others have been issuing adversarial statements in what looks like an effort to “draw battle lines” and lure their perceived political rivals into the arena of public debate.
I jokingly replied: “If those are what indicates the start of political season, then the political pot had been boiling for the past three years.”
I pointed out that, based on personal experience, certain politicians and their operatives have been running sustained black propaganda efforts against their targets while exploiting social media and traditional media opportunities to portray themselves as popular darlings.
“It is always political season in the Philippines,” I pointed out.
As we have heard so many times from older veterans of politics, “politicians prepare for the next elections on the very first day they were elected into office.”
Losers in an election do the same thing.
So, the question is not so much about when the political pot has started to boil but more about how will the elections in 2022 look like.
It will be the country’s first elections during a global pandemic, at a time when all the country’s regions are under some form of restrictions and quarantine.
At this time, barely a year before we vote for the next set of national and local officials, many are wondering:
How will the voting be conducted? Will we have to physically troop to polling places? Will there be online voting? If voting is done online, will the process be secure and will the results be credible? What about the possible voter turnout? If new voting methods are put in place, would the electorate feel confident enough to use them? Would new voting methods drive voters away or would they actually attract more voters?
In the United States, their first-ever elections under a pandemic also drew the biggest voter turnout in more than a century. Of course, some political analysts would argue that there are other factors that inspired American voters to exercise their right of suffrage.
Some 124 countries – as of June this year – have followed the US example and proceeded with national and local elections despite the pandemic. About 75 countries reportedly decided to postpone or cancel elections.
Our view is that elections in our country will proceed as scheduled. We are also confident that a significantly high percentage of voters will cast their ballots – regardless of the voting methods that the Commission on Election would put in place. Our countrymen have a strong commitment to the electoral process. They hold sacred their right of suffrage. We believe that even if voting next year were to be done in exactly the same way as in 2010 and 2016, Filipinos will defy the odds – and the virus – and will come marching to polling places.
The one question that is foremost in the mind of many is this: Who will the Filipino vote for?
How will the Filipino make his choice?
There are three usual bases Filipino voters use: personality, promise and/or performance.
Personality refers to “popularity, likeability.”
Promise refers to the “hope” attached to the person of the political aspirant.
Performance refers to the “track record” of the aspirant. This becomes the basis when what the voter wants is “proof” – evidence that the candidate has done before with flying colors the things that he proposes to do for the constituents if elected.
Our fearless forecast is that the 2022 elections will see Filipinos going for “performance.”
We are living in challenging times. The pandemic brought us face to face with the reality of death and poverty. In times like these, we look for leaders who have proven their capabilities to see us through these challenging times.
It is unlikely that our people would gamble with inexperience backed solely by claims that are unproven in the absence of a track record of performance.
In 2022, we will be electing leaders who have proven to us that they have what it takes to bring us to the finish line.
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