POSTSCRIPT / April 26, 2022 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Next president as role model for kids

The top advice I have read or heard encapsulating in one guideline the criteria we use in choosing whom to vote for as our next president is: “Let’s go for one who would be the best role model for our children.”

A good role model is a president who is known to be morally upright (“no whiff of corruption”), bright, and respected in the community, one who has a track record of competence, inspiring leadership, and whose heart beats for the least of our countrymen.

“Doon tayo sa kandidatong pwedeng maging role model ng mga bata.” (JR Santiago @oslecjunior). Photo: Reuters

We want a president we are proud to send as our representative in global or regional forums, as we said here last Sunday, and, as we are saying today, one who is a role model for our children growing up in a complex and competitive world.

Parents generally want their children to have good manners and respect for their elders, to be law-abiding, to study and work hard, and to help those in need.

That the next president be a role model for our children was suggested in a tweet of JR Santiago @oslecjunior whose Twitter profile describes him as “A Husband. A Dad. A Dreamer. And proud former PCOO asec in the PNoy administration.”

His tweet says: “Doon tayo sa kandidatong pwedeng maging role model ng mga bata.”

This means that if only for the sake of our children, we must reject any candidate for president who is corrupt, does not value education and honest labor, someone who lies, evades taxes, and has no managerial skills and experience.

There are 10 candidates for that role model for our children – and for leading the country into a brighter future, out of the pandemic-economic crisis worsened by official corruption and incompetence.

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It seems that the size and the spirit of an election campaign rally are in the eyes of the beholder and on who organized the gathering.

The winners in the May 9 election for president and vice president would have been already proclaimed, but the police and rally organizers could still be arguing about size, especially if the events are those of the Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan team.

We’ve been told that the record-breaking birthday rally last Saturday of Vice President Robredo that choked Macapagal Blvd. in Pasay City drew 420,000 attendees. As expected, the police disputed that estimate.

Director-General Felipe Natividad of the National Capital Region Police Office said there were only some 90,000 to 100,000 – later further reduced to 70,000 – 80,000 – in that mammoth crowd captured on drone video shots.

Listen to his initial explanation to ABS-CBN: “Yung estimate as of yesterday (Saturday), is mga more or less nasa 90,000 to 100,000 yung nandoon. Yun yung estimate natin kasi bago naman they coordinated with us. Parang inano na namin yung area, yung span ng area na kinoordinate nila parang sinubdivide na natin yan by square meter yung occupied ng tao, tapos we also observe kasi na people go there siguro stay for a while and then they will leave hindi talaga yung consistent na they’re staying there.”

Cops, organizers disagree on size

There was a similar disagreement on crowd size in the Feb. 8 Leni-Kiko rally in Naga City which the organizers said was attended by 300,000 to 600,000 people, a claim that would have made it the biggest rally at that time.

The Naga City Events Protocol and Public Information Office said that the crowd that flocked to Plaza Quezon was between 15,000 and 20,000. The Philippine National Police said that the organizers’ figure was bloated, pruning it to 7,000 – 18,000.

As for another big rally on April 9 in San Fernando City, Pampanga, the crowd size may have resulted from a misunderstanding, Director-General Matthew Baccay of PNP Central Luzon (Region III) said.

He acknowledged that the police chief of San Fernando had mentioned an early afternoon figure of 70,000, but that estimate was for security planning only. Toward the end of the rally, organizers announced a 220,000 estimate, which was understood to be a composite figure from the organizers, the PNP, and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

The group estimated that some 5.5 hectares (55,000 square meters) of the seven hectares of open space beside the Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando were occupied by the crowd that kept swelling as the rally wore on into the night.

Assuming four persons stood on each square meter of the 5.5 hectares, the rally area would have accommodated at least 220,000.

• How to turn rally crowds into votes?

There will be endless disputations about the size of rally crowds in the next several days as these events, used to gauge the drawing power of candidates, are made more imaginative to continue keeping the crowd engaged.

Based on photographs, especially the sweeping drone shots of Leni-Kiko rallies, there is excitement in the crowds flocking to them, especially with the participation of celebrities, showbiz personalities and influencers volunteering for the events.

One question is how or if the huge attendance in these rallies would be converted into votes come May 9. If there is a mass conversion into votes, the candidacy of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who was leading weeks ago in the preference surveys may be in trouble.

There are many other factors, including how the votes are counted and reported by the computerized system of hardware (the machines) and software (the programs that make them work) that is only as good or as bad as the people tending to or tinkering with them.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 26, 2022)

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