Even before the start of the 2022 National Election campaigns and rallies, presidential bets’ supporters had already scrambled to raise the spirits of their ‘future leader,’ even beyond the grounds of morality. Intrinsically, national elections political rallies are known to be “messy,” but now even more as it evolved into a battle of principles—on which choices best fit the conscience of Filipinos.
When asked what makes Philippine elections begrimed, people instantly think of corrupt practices, such as vote-buying and hakot. Considering how the Philippines is a third-world country, and 23.7% of its residents lie on the poverty line as reported by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), this strategy by politicians to entice the people is now implanted in the country’s politics. At this point, Philippine politics will always be concomitant to corruption.
However, the rise of new-age media introduced a much more crippling challenge to the Philippine electoral scheme, most importantly regarding the political aspirants’ supporter behavior. One of which is supporters’ borderline fanatical behavior, where they vilify those who disagree with them. Now, it has evolved into elitism, where education and socioeconomic background become a matter of scrutiny and criticism.
Its usual dynamics rely on Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s supporters, also known as the kakampinks, associating Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’ supporters as “uneducated” and “poor” compared to them on social media platforms. Mostly, this feud roots in how the kakampinks despise the capitalization of Bongbong Marcos’ supporters on historical revisionism and how the latter’s supporters tag kakampinks as “bayaran.”
This feud might have been something Filipinos witnessed in the ordinary course of political rallies as it has been present ever since. For instance, back in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters clashed with Former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II’s supporters, where they went back and forth with the dutertards and dilawans bickering.
Although only a portion resonates with this alienating attitude, and it does not absolutely define Leni nor her other supporters, it still unveils the unknowing efforts of furthering the class struggle, which the so-called “uneducated” and “poor” people did not decide on in the first place.
Maybe, they were provoked. Perhaps, they intended to ‘convert’ them by putting them inside an outcasted bubble because of their status. Maybe, they wanted to debunk their allegations and prove them wrong. Still, no matter what angle you look at this approach, it is counterproductive and divisive. In a country where choice is a privilege, compassion should have been the middle ground in this grueling election season, especially when our future is at stake.
The Vice President’s daughter Tricia Robredo had since addressed this issue in a Facebook post saying, “Avoid name-calling (ie bobo, bayaran). Maraming nabiktima lang din ng disinformation. Maraming hirap, kumakayod at naghahanap lang ng maiuuwi sa pamilya. Ipaglaban din natin sila.”
As much as Filipinos do not want to waste any vote, apathy toward the grassroots and the most vulnerable stakeholders of this electoral process will lead nowhere but to a more ravaged nation. “Educate,” they say but is not this the exact mechanism of the colonizers, who ramified the Philippines as a nation?
May it be the reminder that political rallies and campaigns in this election season serve to open the hearts and minds of the people to a brighter tomorrow, not widen the aperture that’s already taking a toll on the ‘once’ unified nation.
The aspirants are not colonizers who shall impose the ‘Divide and Conquer’ technique to gain authority, where they wholly boxed out those who they did not want to govern. They are Filipino citizens as well, who willfully desire to change the country’s system for the welfare of their compatriots and address its impending challenges. Not only does this plight of election season reveal elitism but also the ongoing and protruding struggle of Filipinos to have better access to quality education and services.
Bleed whatever color or party you endorse but don’t bleed the Filipinos through a struggle they have constantly been battling since time immemorial. As Filipino voters and individuals affixed in a conflict-driven society, we must keep our integrities in check and remember the very essence of this national election—to tramp towards a better Philippines.
The article was previously published in the Election Issue 2022 of Atenews. Read it here: tinyurl.com/AtenewsElex2022