Campaign season. It’s the time of year when politicians make their words as sweet as the scent of Sampaguita flowers, as they parade around, showcasing their humility and empathy for those in the slums, all with the hope of enticing Filipino voters with their promises promoting the greater good as they compete to serve as the country’s future leaders.
However, campaign season is plagued by the deepest, darkest secrets lurking around the corners of every street in the Philippines. Filipinos are skeptical of the malice, deceits, and allegations which float around like air. Like a shroud of mist, they prevent voters from seeing what truly lies beyond this impenetrable haze.
The 2019 General Election has caught the eyes of Filipinos and the rest of the world; not with the platforms of the candidates, but by the dishonorable practices undertaken by aspiring senators and leaders of local government, as part of the unethical and corrupt system which has manifested in the country.
Irresponsible Use of Campaign Materials
To garner votes, candidates make use of various resources in campaigning, including TV commercials, jingles, tag-lines, posters, and social media. However, this year’s campaigning was characterized by actions which often deviated from the morals of Filipino voters.
This photo went viral last month as a Facebook user expressed his strong dislike toward those who violated the sanctity of public murals by covering them with posters of candidates running for mayor and vice-mayor. The posters were lined up in a series on the center portion of the wall, creating a façade over the work of local artists.
Another instance of irresponsible campaigning that sparked outrage was a photo of a dog with a campaign sticker posted to its body. This photo reached the office of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). James Jimenez, a spokesperson for the COMELEC condemned this act, telling candidates to “Leave. Dogs. Alone.”
For some Filipino voters, many candidates are “shameless”. Some political candidates are in hot water for their “audacity” to run as senatorial candidates, despite their connections to controversial scandals, such as corruption. Despite the candidates being acquitted, many critics claim that they should not be absolved of these alleged misconducts.
One of these candidates was Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., a prominent actor during the 1990s who was first elected senator in 2004. Revilla is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of political graft in relation to the pork barrel scam, which was orchestrated by Janet Lim Napoles.
Another candidate with a tainted reputation is former Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa. He was believed to have been behind the extra-judicial killings during the War on Drugs campaign, which were spearheaded by President Rodrigo Duterte. Additionally, whistle-blower Edgar Matobato filed a complaint against dela Rosa in the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the killings allegedly executed by the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Maria Imelda Josefa Romaluedez Marcos, commonly known as Governor Imee Marcos, is also hoping to be elected to the Senate, following in the footsteps of her father, the Dictator and Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Governor Marcos is currently under investigation concerning her alleged misuse of tobacco funds. Moreover, Marcos’ claims of finishing a degree at Princeton University, as well as graduating cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law have been called into question by the media.
Voter’s Lack of Discernment
The right to vote is given to all registered Filipino voters. Since the Philippines is a democratic and republican state, public officials are voted in by the electorate.
“Miss, I just like to ask why do you like to vote Bong Revilla?”
“Because he is handsome and kind.”
“How about his plunder cases, pork barrel scam, do you think —“
“We do not believe that, because the Revillas are rich, right?”
“He is rich, so he is not corrupt?”
“What do you like about his platforms? Do you like laws he carried out?”
“He is just handsome. That’s all.”
However, the transcript above illustrates that not all eligible voters make rational decisions. They are easily swayed by the benevolent platforms and flashy words used by candidates during their campaigns, and do not sufficiently scrutinize their future leaders. No criticisms nor inquiries are made. The politicians who started out in the show business industry bask in the fame and glory they are awarded by virtue of appearing on television and on the big screen.
The 2019 Philippine General Election will take place on May 13. Voters still have ample time to handpick the right apples from the basket. With proper research into the candidates, voters will hopefully choose to be ruled by honest and empathetic leaders, who will strive to enact change in the Philippines, and break the cycle of questionable campaign practices.
Works Cited List
At The Youth Journal, all writers are required to provide a list of sources and either cite in-article or at the end with a Works Cited List. This list can be found below.
Evangelista, Alex, (2018, December 08), TIMELINE: Bong Revilla’s plunder case and the pork barrel scam, Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/218415-timeline-bong-revilla-plunder-case-pork-barrel-scam (April 10, 2019)
Gavilan, Jodesz, (2018, April 18), Bato dela Rosa should be held accountable over drug war deaths – HRW, Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/200521-pnp-bato-dela-rosa-held-accountable-drug-war-killings-hrw (April 10, 2019)
Mier, Ma. April, (2016, September 16), Dela Rosa denies connection with Matobato, Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/816004/dela-rosa-denies-alleged-connection-with-matobato (April 10, 2019)
Rivas, Ralf, (2018, July 12), Ombudsman probing Imee Marcos over questionable projects, Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/207131-ombudsman-investigating-imee-marcos-ilocos-norte-projects (April 10, 2019)
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Gavilan, Jodesz, (2018, October 19), LIST: 2019 Senate hopefuls facing cases, complaints, probes, Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/214622-list-senatorial-aspirants-facing-cases-complaints-investigations (April 9, 2019)
Gavilam, Jodesz (2017, October 07), No extrajudicial killings in PH? World ‘not fooled,’ says HRW, Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/184611-extrajudicial-killings-philippines-world-not-fooled-human-rights-watch (April 9, 2019)
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Rappler, (2019, February 12), #PHVote: Why these women will vote for Bong Revilla, Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtCEvKxo8mg&fbclid=IwAR3PIL_p2jKtgwcplhEXh1Zp-O7WMLqz_tuHTGsddMcxrlCM_lWKgCb-t3s (April 10, 2019)
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*Featured Photo by Niño Jose Orbeta via Inquirer.net*