Thursday, March 30, 2023

How Far Can Our Candidates Woo?

by Zarelle Glen Dorothy A. Villanzana | March 20, 2022

The national electoral campaign started last February and will end exactly two days before the election. With less than 60 days left, what have the country’s national candidates been doing to woo the crowds and secure their spot for the May elections?

The proclamation rallies that were held last February 8 kickstarted the campaigns. And most presidentiables made sure to conduct their rallies in their respective hometowns – Lacson-Sotto in Cavite; Robredo-Pangilinan in Naga; Pacquiao-Atienza in General Santos City; Domagoso-Ong in Manila; and the Marcos-Duterte tandem at the Philippine Arena. Meanwhile, the Ka Leody-Bello tandem held their rally in Quezon City where they raised their voice for the labor workers whose oppression has inspired the presidentiable to run for candidacy.

Since then, the candidates went on a campaign leg around the country. Most recently, as of March 14 to 18, Domagoso has crossed Bicol to Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental to Cavite, Robredo in areas of Southern Mindanao to areas in Visayas, De Guzman in most areas in Mindanao, Lacson from Cagayan to Quirino, and Marcos Jr. from Nueva Ecija to Bataan.

However, since the existence of the COVID-19 virus, it is not to be forgotten how a new normal was also implemented for safer campaigning. Compared to the physical campaigns of 2016, restrictions have been made for this year, where campaign activity will be based on the COVID-19 alert level system. As the level rises to the fifth, in-person campaigns would not be permitted, but the lower levels mean fewer restrictions. Still, the basic health protocols of social distancing and sanitizing have to be followed. 

As fuel cost had spiked, Vice-Presidential candidate Sara Duterte decided to ban political motorcades and caravans in the vote-rich city of Davao, to which presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao complained about in a Pampanga press briefing, questioning the whole point of election campaigns if a candidate couldn’t campaign. Pacquiao said these motorcades were part of his methods of reaching out to people at the grassroots level. On Tuesday, March 8, Pacquiao also managed to become the first candidate to visit the Aeta community in Porac, Pampanga.

On another note, the biggest rally this election by far would be that of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem where campaign sorties have been generating record numbers of attendees of around 40,000 in Iloilo, 45,000 in Cavite, and 75,000 in Bacolod. Senator Minority Leader Franklin Drilon mentioned in a press release on March 14 that he was surprised. “I have not seen this crowd and passion since 1986 when Cory Aquino came into power. This is already a movement. This is phenomenal. This is beyond political affiliations, ” he said. 

The Philippine atmosphere has truly been heating up with the election fever rising. With the presence of supporters also comes the presence of those who are in the opposition as information arises of a presidential candidate’s possible affiliation to leftist organizations. Rising numbers of their campaign attendees were seen as questionable, thus the insinuation. Although leaving out any names, these commentators were careful with their statement not to be considered as a direct tag, but merely a warning for other voters to choose their leaders wisely. 

Furthermore, complaints are made about how packed campaign crowds are merely bought, and how money still is the first and only reason for their attendance. Loaded trucks of passengers with similarly colored shirts are assumed by others to be a “hakot” scheme, as their pity follows next. Vote-buying allegations have also been discovered while the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) waits for a proper complaint about the issue. However, other campaigns burn brightly with passionate supporters raising their banners high and echoing their cheers through the venue’s walls as their candidates face them with untired smiles. Dwellers of these campaigns reassure others that they are not there for the money, but only for the success of their candidate and the security of a better future. Until then, the concerts, the jingles, and the speeches will continue as the time counts down to election day.

Campaigns may have ignited so much spark in the Filipino citizens, highlighted passion, and given their candidates traction with successful rallies, but they have also allowed discussions to be made. Despite all the rallies, motorcades, and other campaign methods happening for this upcoming elections, it is most important that we remember how the end has not yet come, and no matter what stunt the candidates may pull as an endorsement of themselves, we are in power of what happens next. Let us not be pulled forward by the mere comedic displays of politicians. Instead, let us think rationally about the characteristics, values, and platforms that these candidates present. Voting is our human right — let us exercise it properly with informed certainty.

References:

Galvez, D. (2022, March 9). Pacquiao bucks banning campaign motorcade despite rising fuel costs. INQUIRER.Net. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1565342/pacquiao-bucks-banning-campaign-motorcade-despite-rising-fuel-costs

Peña, K. D. (2022, February 8). COVID redraws rules of campaign for 2022 elections. INQUIRER.Net. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1551275/covid-redraws-rules-of-campaign-for-2022-elections

Press Release – Drilon says huge crowds in Robredo-Pangilinan campaign sorties send Robredo’s opponents in panic mode. (2022, March 14). [Press release]. https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2022/0314_drilon2.asp

R. (2022, March 15). SCHEDULE: Campaign activities of national candidates – 2022 PH elections. RAPPLER. https://www.rappler.com/nation/elections/schedule-campaign-activities-sorties-presidential-vp-senatorial-candidates-2022-polls-philippines/?next=2

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