Are Filipino voters smart? Or do they ask, ‘What is in there for us?’


In the alternate universe of Mr. Aquino’s political mandarins, voters are truly smart that they will reject the crooks and the corrupt in the 2016 elections. In that universe, the assumption is the voters will settle for men of competence and integrity in 2016 like what they did, they believe, in 2010. That unshakable narrative keeps them dreaming of what they call “continuity” after 2016. Even if that dream runs counter to three things: history, polling results, popular belief.

The operative phrase that underpins their confidence is this: Voters are smart. Are they?

I do not have an idea on whether voters are truly smart. Or are truly discerning. Or, whether they vote according to their conscience—which should be the ideal rule in choosing leaders. What I know is that voters are many things, non-linear in their discernment of what makes good leaders. And the first question they ask themselves, when they do not vote under duress, is this: What is in there for us?

“In there for us” has a broad definition. It can be personal interest, the interest of a community, or the interest of a gender, a religion or creed. Regardless of what that “interest” is, it serves as the voting code, the code that unlocks the names that will be marked down on the ballots on Election Day.

Ok, I am a senior citizen, a certified member of the underclass, one whose life’s ambition never went beyond joining newspaper guilds, trade unions and peasant groups. Where will my class interests lead me to in 2016?

At the voting precinct, this will be uppermost in my mind. Mr. Aquino vetoed a bill called Magna Carta for the Poor, even if that draft law proposed token, superficial, non-budget-busting concessions to the likes of me and my neighbors.

His reason, couched in some twisted fiscal and monetary speak, cannot be forgotten by me and my neighbors. It will bust the budget and the government cannot afford it.

I will ask this question on Election Day: What leader in his right mind would veto a tokenism for the poor? This will lead me to vote against the Aquino anointed. Casting aside the hallucinatory beliefs of Mr. Aquino’s political mandarins, this is the only truth about voting. Voters are guided and motivated by their interests, no matter how selfish. You can’t call that smart voting.

What about the peasant class? How would they react to the chosen of Mr. Aquino?

On a pass/fail scoring, the peasantry will unanimously grade the PNoy administration an “F.” When the Napoles scam broke out, Mr. Aquino’s first order was to suspend all programs for the peasantry, from fertilizer and seed subsidies to the basic assistance of helping them get farm animals. It was not a knee-jerk reaction to a congressional scam. It was his bias against small farmers and small-scale agriculture.

Mr. Aquino knew that the small farmers were the victims of that scam, and never the perpetrators. In fact the conspiracy was akin to kicking the dying small farmers. In the sense that it used farm cooperatives and peasant support organizations as fronts for the scam. Just the same, his first directive was to bludgeon the already-suffering peasantry. I do not know what he has against my class. His policies have a deep-seated bias against the small people, most especially the peasantry.

Just the appointment of two Jokers—a former contractor and a former senator who has a leisure farm—as co-secretaries of the Department of Agriculture would dramatically manifest the Aquino administration’s marginal focus on the struggling peasantry.

What about the workers? What would be their reaction to Mr. Aquino’s anointed?

Over the past four years, Mr. Aquino never mentioned the phrase “living wage.” A wage level that will give the ordinary worker money for the basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. The talk across the globe is no longer about a minimum wage but a humanizing “living wage.”

Not once did Mr. Aquino discussed the issue of a “ living wage” with Congress and with trade unions and employers. While he swaggered as he discussed GDP growth and credit upgrades, nothing has been mentioned of undertaking a tripartite effort to grant workers a “living wage.”

He does not need to publicly state his aversion to granting workers a decent pay level. But his body language tells it all: This would dent the profit of the oligarchy. He would not sign the Magna Carta for the Poor because it would affect the budget for the high-impact projects that would be awarded to his favorite oligarchs.

He would not discuss a living wage as this would dent the profit of the super rich.

In the retail, food and service establishments—main drivers of economic growth—the current pay standard is very near a slave wage. Contractual employees paid slave wages is the norm. While Mr. Aquino’s government has created a class of rich categorized as “those-who-can-buy-a-small country-rich,” the workers of these super rich work under dehumanizing conditions.

Of course, Mr. Aquino has an ultra-loyal constituency, the rich and the super rich. But they are so few and—for very obvious reasons-they cannot even influence their household helps and drivers to vote for Mr. Aquino’s anointed.


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  1. Two things struck me about this column. First the tone, second the logic.
    As paraphrase.
    The tone – poor me poor me, no one fights for me.
    The logic or the revenge or the vindication up – Because no one fight for me, not even my representatives in congress which had not even occurred to me that they should be fighting for my betterment, therefore no matter who Aquino anoints whether he/she is qualified or not, whether he/she is has the heart for the country since the name of Aquino is behind him/her, I will vote for the other candidate.
    Now the the readers’ reaction – this is a picture of an adult who remain a child within. He does not take reinsibility for his life but delegates it to a father figure, the president. Unless an ADULT. person takes responsibility for his own life, he will always find someone to blame and will remain dependent to someone. That political someone will take advantage of him directly or by taking advantage of position.
    This is the picture of the Filipino voter

  2. wilmer andrada on

    I would question the validity of the survey. How could Binay win ? Are Filipino voters really that dumb and blind?This guy should be spending his time in jail rather than in the campaign trail. This guy is making a mockery of our Justice System because they are the slowest and most incompetent in the world.and also the most politicized.It is a shame considering us as one of the leading democratic country .

  3. wilmer andrada on

    The problem with our voters are the lack of knowledge about the candidates platforms, agenda, a Marshall plan when they get elected. We deal with , actors, sports figure and a whole bunch of brainless but cute personalities.Like all the civil servants who serve our government, candidates should pass a basic test on the constitution,economics, basic law and a little math.We should encourage technocrats to run, successful but honest businessman , economists, engineers , doctors, teachers etc.We need a leader who would have a blue print for the nation on the following issues: Universal Health Care ,Massive relocation of our slums and homeless ,poverty stricken sectors in the metro areas with massive government subsidy, a comprehensive agrarian reform that will include a national cooperative system in supplying, planning, and assistance in farm management .maritime protection and assistance to our local fishing industry,A national student assistance or loan program, green technology, aggressive infrastructure projects and making our business friendly to foreign investors We regain our position in Asia and compete with Singapore, Malaysia and South all aspects..We need leaders who know the value of outsourcing our incompetent government run agencies and systems to more successful, knowledgeably, and honest private entities and corporation.Our NAIA could move from one of the worst International Airport in the World to one of the best if we Partner with Shangrilla or Four Seasons to Run the Service and Amenity Portion and the Philippine Air force with technical and security section.Japan can help us built a bullet train from Northern Luzon to the Bicol Regions. Israel can share their expertise in massive re settlements and their kibbutzim system,the Netherlands can share their knowledge in waterways cleanup and making our Pasig River Banks like Amsterdam or the Bosporus in Turkey, USA can provide us assistance in modern farming, food production etc

  4. P. on

    The electors know the problems the country has for decades, but still go for the popular and those who can buy their votes. They are just too short-minded and short-sighted that they easily forget the mistakes they did during the last elections and do not have the imagination of what will happen with the kind of candidates they voted for. There should be a radical change in the Filipinos mentality when it comes to who should they be voting for. They should be more concerned with the future of their children than their present conditions with the kind of politics as usual. Otherwise, they do not have the right to complain. We deserved what we get.

  5. opinion reader on

    Mukhang “What is in there for us?” ang sagot dito, as far as I can remember, nung panahon na binuksan ng comelec ang registration para sa mga botante, sino bang grupo ang halos mag patayan at super mag reklamo sa kuha ng media? Di bat ang mga mahihirap? May pumunta ba na tao na nasa classification A and B para manguna at mag pa rehistro? parang wala ata? Ano ba ang meron bkit ang mga nasa group D and E eh halos mag patayan? magkano ba ang bigayan para makapag rehistro? para sure na ang mga susunod na tatakbo kung sino ang loyal at mga babayaran sa susunod na election? Mukhang ang sagot nga eh talagang ” What is in there for us?”

  6. victor m. hernandez on

    we are a people of devastated barangays that are reduced to mendicants in the aftermath of storms, typhoons, storm surge, landslides. We are island nations. We are tribal nations. What’s in it for me is what will address these recurring calamities, good roads, houses designed to withdtand storm and typhoons, and storm surges, and landslides. Who can do this, is the one that should be elected. Good planning, good infrastructure, and governance with compassion and accountability. Ok, never mind, we will look for the right leaders. This will take sometime, which may not e achieved by 2016 election. Therefore more frustration and chaos in governance. We seek God’s guidance, and intervention. But also need to work harder for it, by hook or by crook, do or die.If we are that hopeless people. Or eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die anyway.

  7. Since ive lived in the philippines ive noticed filipinos dont like to discuss important things. They would rather talk about the television programmes than important things like politics. That also tells me they have no idea what is going on, they all seem to know about pork barrel, but i wonder if like me they dont understand what pork barrel actually is.
    In the uk politics is so much easier to understand, here its quite complicated. We have questions once a week in parliment aimed at the prime minister & it tells people a lot. Here there seems to be a policy of keep the people ignorant of politics & the status quo wont change which suits corrupt politicians down to the ground.
    I know most of them will still vote for celebrities as thats what they are like.

  8. Good question. “Are Filipino voters smart?”. My answer is definitely NO. Why do stupid Filipino voters still prefer binay to be their president when it is an open secret of BINAYS’ amassed wealth from the taxpayers money through corruption. Was the survey done in Makati from 1200 respondents? How stupid Filipinos still vote the Binays for an electoral position if everything is so obvious of their family’s corruption. The Filipino voters stinks!!!