While waiting at a cancer clinic a few days ago, a conversation between two doctors caught my interest. It goes this way:
Doctor 1: Have you made up your mind who to vote? But Grace Poe is quite popular, huh! We mention her name quite often, eh. Salamat po. Sino po? Paano po? Seriously, I was kinda hoping Poe would run in 2022, not now.
Doctor 2: Oo nga, Doc. Parang nagmamadali pero wala pa namang nagawa. Pero sa VP, Leni ako. Sure na ‘yon.
Doctor 1: Marcos is winning, eh. Leni ka pala. But Chiz is also rating high. Kaya lang si Chiz e puro salita lang. Me tono pero hindi maganda. He’s still young. Why can’t he wait?
Doctor 2: Si Miriam…Naku, balita ko nag-shift ng meds. Medyo okay sana ‘yun pero may sakit.
Doctor 1: Oo nga, balita ko rin. Pero alam mo, these surveys (with) 1,800 (respondents), how can these be a good sampling for 54 million voters? But we never know. The ball is round. Mar can still win. We need somebody tested. The calamities we had in the last five years were too much. I wonder how the others could have handled those under the same circumstances. Marami kasi puro salita lang e wala namang gawa. We never thought Binay would be VP is 2010, and Grace will be No. 1 in the Senate in 2013. There is still hope, I guess.
Doctor 2, a female who looked much younger than Doctor 1, a male in his early 50’s, only nodded in agreement.
From the conversation, I noticed that there was no mention about Binay. I did not want my eavesdropping to become obvious if I asked if they considered him out of the question, although he has also been topping the voting preference surveys.
Most of the taxi drivers I have talked to have a different preference. They believe Duterte could put an end to mulcting by traffic enforcers and robberies. They said the country needs a dictator who would be feared by criminals.
There are still many acquaintances and ordinary folks I have asked who said they have not made up their minds about who to vote, with most of them citing negative publicity about all of the candidates that make it even harder for them to choose.
This Holy Week, at least on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we should be spared from the political noise because campaigning is not allowed on these holy days.
With a long holiday weekend to most Filipinos, the Holy Week affords us time to reflect on God’s teachings and take stock of our lives. How can we help raise the level of political discourse and convince politicians to treat the electorate not as idiots they could hoodwink with promises that they cannot deliver.
Two days ago, vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos was reported to have appealed to his fellow candidates to stop character assassination and focus instead the debate on platforms and programs on how to solve the country’s problems.
The message was good and timely. However, it came from someone who had been heavily bruised because he continues to be haunted by the ghosts of his father’s Martial Law and bad record of human rights violations, as well as his family’s ill-gotten wealth.
Too much mudslinging has destroyed the character of each of the candidates for national positions. We could expect this kind of dirty politicking when the official campaign period for local positions starts on March 26.
With more than 26 million Filipinos remaining poor, with almost half of them living in extreme poverty and lacking the means to feed themselves, these candidates should be able to offer them a better future than mere rhetoric, only to be forgotten once elected, instead of destroying rival candidates to pull themselves up. The game is typical crab mentality.
After the Holy Week, candidates and their campaign teams would hopefully tone down their negative campaigning and focus on what they can and will do to solve the country’s pressing problems instead of engaging in non-stop blame-game and character assassination.
Voters should be discerning enough to see through the candidates’ empty promises and pretensions based on their performance, be they in public or private offices, in the past years.