Mon. May 23rd, 2022

In all the years of our nation’s existence, there is one day where we are all equal, and that is on Election Day. A week from now, voters will be trooping to the polling centers to vote for the nation’s next six years.

It is a hard act to follow, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte riding through the sunset, guns ablaze. The hillbilly mayor, ridiculed, laughed at, derided, is coming out strong, alive and kicking, ending his term with some big projects opened, and he has still until June to finally put the final touches to the canvas that most people do not like to recognize.

And we ask: are you better off today than six years ago? No one can answer that for you. Trust me — only you can confirm your voices deep within.

Let me begin this column by asking an apropos question: who are you to tell me I am voting for the wrong candidate?

And that has been the central, offensive communication perfected by the group of the incumbent vice president, ending in what is now known famously as, “Let me educate you.”

The class cleavages of the nation showed its ugliest head in this election cycle when campaign messaging revolved around cancel culture and elitist points of view with no decency and respect for the individual’s point of view. The team of the vice president will insist, will cross the private space and will ridicule one if one does not say yes to what is being insisted.

The first failure was running against the “son of the dictator.” As if offering the supreme sacrifice to cast away the evil spiel that is Marcos.

 The second failure was running independent, portraying oneself as an outsider, as not part of the Liberal Party, effectively disassociating from the years of PBSA3.

The third wrong move was a branding extension (from yellow to pink, including the ribbon) and then the hilarious repackaging and the shifting logos, even launching a belated move on inclusivity by coming up with the rainbows of Benetton look.

Then the religious reincarnation, the contestant in a beauty pageant rolled into one with the halo and at another point, the wings of an angel. One can see in rallies of individuals touching the Vice President and then making the sign of the cross. No correction done. No call-out and they term that as radical love.

Pity the first-time voters who came rushing to support her. They had various placards saying sexist remarks, throwing shades to people and so much hate in their language, crossing the very psyche of Filipinos.

It was all right to them and the leaders of that team because they reasoned that they experienced the same in 2016 where the so-called DDS hit everyone just to open the lane for then candidate Duterte. The tit-for-tat went beyond what is decent and so we are left with this major problem going into the next administration.

Their leaders stoke the fire and continued with embers creeping through the landscape.

Their conversion strategy was doing house-to-house but their dialogue was “I tell you.” And they call that a people’s campaign. Dissing others is the political communication strategy.

There was also the wingman play of controlling the narratives spearheaded by partisan fact checkers who sullied people left and right but only on one side. That is why the cap of the incumbent Vice President has never increased but just by incremental points not even reaching the 30 percent level. Because as the other side started defending, one gets flagged, thereby creating the supposed pathway to clearing the noise and getting their narratives across

READ: ‘Crabs,’ or what is propelling BBM to power

Without ABS-CBN, control of media tools was never the same. And that was the strongest game changer of them all. Without a franchise, the strongest mouthpiece has been muzzled and limited to a reach that essentially can’t be a rekorida tool though the living room of every Filipino.

The democratization of information, setting aside MSM and putting more traction to influencers, bloggers and vloggers has effectively changed the landscape.

Yesterday, uniformed personnel, “warriors and veterans” again made a manifesto for a fraud-free election. The strong worded manifesto had this line sticking like a sore thumb: “We abhor and rebuke foreign intervention in purely domestic matters and in the exercise of our inalienable right to choose our leaders.”

One wrong move could tilt the country towards a military junta led by PRRD. Take note, he ends by June 30 and not by May 9.

READ: Will Marcos repeat the errors of his father?

By now, most Filipinos already know who they are voting for president and vice president, senators and all the way down to local government officials. The undecideds have thinned out. The geographical catch basins, bellwethers and bailiwicks have firmed up.

The only things missing are the movements and strategies for EDay on Get Out the Vote (GOTV). GOTV is crucial in the wake of rumors that voters need to bring shields, fax cards, have RT-PCR tests or precincts will not accept voters with high temperature. These are all false.

The reading by Smartmatic that has always put elections to question since 2010 due to manual corrections and blackouts are critical. But voters cannot see what happens to their vote as the ballot is fed into the VCM. The only document the voter gets to check actual reading is via the voter verifiable audit trail which will be dropped into the box.

Talk is going around about some voters having voted for BBM but the machine does not show his name on the voter verifiable audit trail. Talk is rife that there might be a script that directs, that after several numbers of Marcos votes, the system goes to abstention, hence no vote for president. The Comelec should be able to double-check this because there have been several reports from OFW and LAV that have been made, causing some problems for voters.

With frontrunners, voter suppression should also be guarded meticulously because any rumor of increased number of Covid patients in an area could cause voters to stay home instead. And when the lines snake around and only 10 persons are allowed in the precinct, delays could lead to voters losing interest.

We should all go out. Bring our codigos and register our choice. Informed choice is key. Take a stand and remember our country and our future.

Tandem is very important because we need both the president and vice president to be working together. We also need new blood, new faces in the Senate, who can offer new views, courage to dare history and pursue a different path.

READ: Edsa – Last battleground for May

My stand is for continuity. I am not looking for a saint. I want boldness, courage and conviction. I have given EDSA so much time to prove itself. I bring to the precinct three things: the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, SAF 44 and Yolanda.

As you study your choices, hold to your hopes, wear the flag and believe in your choice. Election is just a day away.

We need to roll up our sleeves, respect the mandate and all hands on deck for another chapter of nation-building.

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Maria Lourdes Navarro Tiquia is a noted lobbyist and political strategist in the Philippines and in Asia. She is a trained and experienced political management expert and a policy analyst, hence combining politics and policy in her 29 years of professional career. She is the founder of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. and continues to write commentaries for The Manila Times.

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