MORE THAN PINK AND RED
A new administration has dawned as Ferdinand "BongBong" Marcos Jr. becomes elected for the highest position in the land. After the fastest canvassing of votes in the history of Philippine elections, Marcos gained more than 31 million votes. This is out of the 55.5 million Filipinos who practiced their sovereign right to democracy, which is around 82.6% of the 67.4 million registered voters. After a series of speculations and manual counting of electoral votes, Marcos officially took office as the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines after he was inaugurated on June 30, 2022, at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
The 2022 elections have earned various firsts and records in the chronicles of Philippine history. The electoral votes for Marcos and the data of the voter turnout have been record-breaking with their overwhelming numbers. Most importantly, the political support has been different on many levels.
PERSONA OVER PLATFORMS
The lineup for this election amplified more on the persona and fame of the candidates than their advocacies with Manny Pacquiao as an international boxing legend, Francisco "Isko" Moreno Domagoso as a former movie actor, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the son of and namesake of the former dictator of the country unlike Leni Robredo and Panfilo "Ping" Lacson who were known for their government experiences. Moreover, candidates use colors as branding of themselves to appeal to more voters with pink representing Robredo, red for Marcos, and blue for Isko.
"Through this embodied and relational practice in Philippine elections, color is a way of identifying affiliations, alliances and also antagonisms," said Oscar T. Serquina, Jr., assistant professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, in an article by DW, a Germany-based international news outlet.
Nevertheless, despite the fame and colors, the candidates also laid down their platforms. Marcos vowed unity, vaccine rollouts, and employment opportunities. Robredo centered on good governance. Livelihood programs have been the priority for Isko. Ultimately, Pacquiao and Lacson promised to wipe out corruption.
FORCES BEHIND POLITICS
Politics in the Philippines has been influenced by factors that are detrimental to the moral and legal sovereignty of democracy that no longer surprise the Filipino people.
Philippine politics has been dominated by clans and dynasties. In an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia, stated that the past surveys of their organization have provided that most Filipinos are more concerned with the benefits and patronage they can receive than the issue of dynasties.
Moreover, religious sects and denominations have also been significantly involved in campaigns by endorsing candidates of their preference. The politics of religion started in the Spanish colonial times and became more prominent during the late dictator Marcos era.
Regarding their practice of bloc voting, an Iglesia ni Cristo member told the publication, "We followed the belief taught inside the INC of voting as one. We fully believe that the head of the INC is guided by the Holy Spirit to whoever candidate he may choose." The member stated that the heads of the estimated 3 million INC are also considering the candidate's past and platforms.
90-DAY CAMPAIGN RACE
For this elections, political support has averted from the conventional ways of campaigning. In the camp of Robredo, multitudes of volunteer groups have been established even before she announced her candidacy. Members of these organizations have set up community pantries and outreach programs with the inspiration of their candidates.
"I showed my support in being an active youth volunteer, a supporter, by helping others, showing support in her campaign by giving out free food, sharing her platforms online and offline. I even attended all meet-ups and conferences and was given the chance to meet the candidate in person," shared Alexandrea Cambaya, member of the Media Team of Youth For Leni - Iloilo Chapter, in an interview with The Augustinian.
Moreover, they made headlines with the initiative of house-to-house campaigning. Nevertheless, the largest extent of how the Kakampinks (wordplay on kakampi or ally, and pink) demonstrated their support for Robredo is through their grand rallies by overnight stays in their headquarters until the events reached international applause and attention.
The joint campaign effort of Bongbong Marcos and Inday Sarah Duterte however, inspired more support with voter preference margin of 64 percent, 56 percent, 54 percent, and 51 percent, respectively, in the final pre-election polls conducted by the polling firms Laylo Research, Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations, Octa Research, PUBLiCUS Asia, and Tangere. Analysts remarked that Marcos and Duterte's opposition to negative campaigning contributed to their popularity with Filipino voters.
"I was able to stand on my ground though being surrounded by circles who are all Leni supporters. Showcasing all BBM's credentials, potentials, and platforms and being able to speak up in his favor," John Prudencio Villareal, the university's deputy executive secretary, told the publication.
Villareal's choice of the candidate was questioned, but he never wavered because he believed that the 31 million voters of Marcos wanted an uplifting country, not a country that is being plated with roses of pretentious acts and lies.
Meanwhile, the political support for the candidates aside from Marcos and Robredo has been inferior to the interest of the media as the leading aspirants in the surveys were deemed more relevant.
"Media was more intrigued and focused on the Leni-BBM rivalry as the Aquino-Marcos conflict was reborn than focusing on the candidates that are behind in the surveys," Kevin Rey Deanon, the Provincial Chairperson of Isko Tayo Kabataan of Iloilo, said in an interview with The Augustinian. Isko's large-scale and expensive plans and projects as Mayor of Manila showed promise for Deanon, but Isko ultimately fell short in the eyes of the public.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPITFIRE
Kakampinks and Uniteam supporters continue to engage in political sparring by insinuating that the opposing team's adherence to its candidates amounts to a cult. Cultus, the word for "cult" in Latin, is what modern English speakers refer to as "culture." In the media, the word is used to denote a small group that is contentious due to their peculiar beliefs.
"Political support adheres to its guiding principles while the political cult is the adoration of a single person. A political cult is an excessive and inappropriate devotion to a specific party or candidate," said Atty. Celso Lacson Jr. in an interview with The Augustinian. Lacson emphasized that people should be more devoted to their ideals and values than to any particular candidate.
During this 2022 election, candidates attempted to capitalize on the movements of their ardent supporters by using social media: Marcos with his alleged multiple troll farms and Robredo with her alleged yellow-turned-pink cult that purges voters.
In an interview with CNN Philippines on April 27, Marcos denied knowing about any troll farms operating under him that were using social media to propagate misinformation. There were several polished videos documenting the Marcoses' splendor and international acclaim on Tiktok and YouTube. Videos went viral claiming that Nostradamus' published book "Les Prophéties" from 1555 predicted that a boy would bring glory to the Philippines. According to BBM's followers, all of the descriptions applied to BBM. Robredo, on the other hand, captured the attention of Twitter users. According to a #FactsFirst study that looked at 128 election-related subjects in the Philippines from the top 10 popular hashtags in the nation, Leni Robredo was mentioned favorably in the majority of tweets. The negligible portion of Kakampinks lambasting Robredo's rivals was said to be to her detriment because of her supporters ramming their narratives to every people's throats.
CONVERSATION, NOT MONOLOGUE
The rise of cults created political division that hindered the nation's ability to hold meaningful discussions and create thoroughly thought-out laws and policies for everyone. People will write anything to support their partisanship, sometimes even resulting in the death of someone or severe interpersonal damage.
According to Luis Miguel Tirador, outgoing president of Sigma Alpha Lex (SAL) of the University of San Agustin College of Law, "This cult-like or cult behavior is formidable as it is a result of a failed system."
Tirador explained to The Augustinian that people probably lived their entire lives adhering to the rules but never received the promised benefits or justice for their suffering, that is why their disdain for the system increases with each negative outcome they experience. People have little faith in the system as a whole and are more loyal to those in power who make promises to carry out their vision of a rejuvenated society. The solution wouldn't come from fooling about, but from a comprehensive strategy that took their suffering into account.
For politics' machinery to work, for people to understand one another, and for progress to be made, it is necessary to comprehend the crucial component of compromise. These are the things that people who are politically polarized either refuse to understand or fail to grasp.
Published: November 14, 2022