ELECTIONS give us reason to hope for change, but the incessant mudslinging and black propaganda do not at all help voters make informed and intelligent decisions to choose the best candidates who can bring about needed reforms.
One year before the next elections, television viewers and radio listeners are already bombarded with advertisements from politicians, many of whom have publicly claimed they have not made up their minds about running.
While paid media ads have positive content, mostly a gist of what the subject politician has done and promises to do, many of these are half-truths.
The mudslinging and black propaganda are passed on as legitimate news materials in the form of speeches, media interviews, official statements, and statements in other public appearances.
In the next few days, we can expect more of these types of papogi ads, which are intended to raise public awareness of the prospective candidates, in time for the second quarter survey period.
Aspirants and political parties are eagerly awaiting the results of the next popularity surveys and take these as a major factor in deciding whether or not to join the 2016 elections.
Faced with a slew of cringe-inducing political ads and mudslinging, educated voters tend to become more cynical about politics. Worse, they become less interested in participating in the voting process.
The biggest beneficiaries in this exercise are media companies because of the enormous opportunity for advertising sales. Remember, the limitations on campaign spending apply only once the official campaign period begins, which will be in the second week of February 2016 yet, that is, if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) adopts the rules in previous elections setting the campaign period for national positions at 90 days, and for local positions, 45 days.
Spin doctors or political consultants are also among the biggest winners in the pre-campaign period contest. He or she who is best skilled to twist stories to a client’s favor gets to choose the highest offer of honorarium, which is probably not declared as income subject to withholding tax.
Spin is the name of the game in political campaigning. It means interpreting an event, opinion or statement to persuade the public in favor or against a client or a public figure. It oftentimes uses deceptive or manipulative tactics to achieve the desired outcome that suits the client’s objectives.
How a few senators are trying to pin down Vice President Jejomar Binay on allegations of massive corruption and unexplained wealth is a form of negative campaigning. How Binay avoids addressing the issues by dismissing the allegations as mere black propaganda is a spin to deflect public opinion.
The biggest loser in situations like this is the public. With so much propaganda – be it white, gray or black – the public tends to get confused and dizzy over which is true and which is not, and ultimately becomes indifferent.
In the end, the candidates who can sing albeit out of tune, or dance and make an audience laugh, and those who give the most doleouts get a better chance of being elected.
During the campaign season, media companies, business groups and other organizations sponsor debates in an attempt to inform viewers about what the candidates stand for.
Public debates are good venues for voters to know the candidates’ stand on issues and their plans for the country, but they don’t need to know how horrible the other candidates think they are.
For as long as the crab mentality pervades in Filipino culture, I don’t think we can claim to have matured as responsible voters. It seems like believing that we cannot move up if we do not pull another down.
But because every vote counts, we ought to make sure that ours is an educated one, regardless of the mudslinging and black propaganda rammed down our throats. It is not like a spin-a-win game where you spin a wheel and just wait where it stops.