POSTSCRIPT / October 14, 2021 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Election e-campaign best on TV, internet

ELECTRONIC campaigning in the May 2022 national elections is likely to be intensified from internet platforms as well as on radio-TV programs as COVID-19 protocols have restricted mass gatherings and close contact between voters and candidates.

The campaign period is from Feb. 8 to May 7, 2022, in the Commission on Elections calendar. But if one would stop, look and listen, he won’t miss seeing the premature campaigning going on under the very nose of the Comelec.

One could also expect the campaign style to move away from the house-to-house, handshaking frenzy of the past, the miting de avance sometimes spiced up with grenade blasts, and such old-fashioned ways of garnering votes.

Surveys show that the broadcast media are the top choices among the new e-campaign modes. Television has been most effective. It entertains the unsuspecting voter while brainwashing him with the best propaganda that unexplained wealth can buy for prime time.

Meantime, candidates with meager resources are praying for contributions to drop from heaven, meaning from the big businessmen wanting to buy post-election insurance by betting on both sides.

We’re talking here of just the campaign phase – that has prematurely (illegally) started in full view of a consenting Comelec.

The main voting phase that follows will see computerized systems taking over after the voter is allowed to be “king for a day” as he fills out his ballot before surrendering it to the scanner-counting machine.

The poor voter has no way of knowing what goes on in the innards of the automated setup. The next thing he will hear about the process is when the computer system, programmed to operate according to a secret code, prints out the tabulated results.

• TV top news source of Pinoys

PULSE Asia has reported that its survey of 2,400 adults nationwide last month showed 91 percent of them getting their daily dose of political news from TV, making it a favored medium for influencing voters. Other poll surveys also have shown TV’s dominance as a news source.

Television has the advantage of spoon-feeding easy-to-digest audio-visual bits of politics to the viewer holding the remote while he is relaxed in the comfort of home, distracted only by the commercials and going to the john.

After TV, the viewers’ other sources of political and related news are radio (49 percent), online links (48 percent), and newspapers (3 percent). Of the 91 percent who point to TV as their main source, 82 percent said they get the news from national TV networks.

We can imagine wealthy candidates (although they reportedly do not spend their own money for campaigning) and major political groups rushing to the TV networks to reserve (preempt) choice time slots, their ready materials to come later.

The report said TV’s dominance has suffered a three-point decline in the last 10 months while access to the internet continued to climb during the same period. (We think TV’s statistical slide could be partly an effect of the closure of the giant ABS-CBN network).

Most of those who said they heard the news from the radio got it from local stations, while most of those who got their news online got it from Facebook.

Some 63 percent of Filipinos used the internet, the survey showed, with 59 percent of them accessing it more than once a day.

Nearly all of them said they used the internet to access social media, while only 41 percent said they used it to get news about the government, and 24 percent said they read about the elections.

Facebook remains the top social media platform in the Philippines, with 99 percent of those surveyed saying that they have an account on it. It is followed by YouTube (57 percent), TikTok (17 percent), Instagram (14 percent), and Twitter (8 percent).

Nearly all (99 percent) of those on Facebook use its messaging platform Messenger, which overshadows Viber (5 percent), WhatsApp (2 percent), Telegram (2 percent), WeChat (1 percent), and Hangouts (0.3 percent).

• What awaits Bato, substitute?

WHAT will happen to Sen. Bato dela Rosa, who filed a certificate of candidacy for president some 30 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline on Oct. 8, if it can be shown that he is just a placeholder for a dark horse substitute candidate?

Dela Rosa himself confirmed to the media that he was surprised to get instructions late that Friday from his party, the PDP-Laban, to rush and file a CoC.

We asked election lawyer Romulo Macalintal what could happen. Without referring to Dela Rosa, Macalintal said:

“Any person who files a CoC only to reserve the position for another person, or to withdraw his CoC in favor of a substitute, should be declared a nuisance candidate and his CoC canceled and denied due course.

“His CoC is null and void and therefore cannot be substituted. Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code is very clear that a person who files his CoC “without bona fide intention to run for such office” shall be treated as a nuisance candidate and his CoC canceled and denied due course as he is making a mockery of the election process.

“It does not matter if such person is rich or nominated by a political party, as long as it could be proven that he has no bona fide or genuine intention to run for such office or to merely reserve the position for another one, he can be declared as a nuisance bet.

“If a petition to declare him a nuisance is filed against him, he should not be allowed to withdraw and cannot be substituted during the pendency of the petition. The CoC of the substitute should not be acted upon by the Comelec until the nuisance petition is finally resolved.”

If Dela Rosa gets stuck with his fake last-minute bid for the presidency, will the powers behind him move heaven and earth to make him win? Dios co!

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 14, 2021)

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