Editorial: After the elections

·3 min read

“KAMANG” is Cebuano for “crawl,” a stealthy move to sneak into bed with your neighbor’s wife. It is the same verb used to refer to the “traditional” tactic of buying votes on the eve of an election.

There is a slight difference in context. While one needs to be devious and surreptitious to commit adultery, buying and selling votes has become, more or less, an “open secret.”

Neighbors ask each other if they are already on a “list.” If they are, the neighbors want to know when the “leader” will be visiting homes and distributing money.

Cebu City resident Gelli wishes again she registered in her hometown in the south of Cebu. Last May 6, she was the only one in her household who did not receive P1,500 and a list of names to vote for on May 9.

Visiting in Samboan, Gelli listened as the “leader” of their cluster instructed her relatives: follow strictly the “codigo (list)” or lose the money and “good relations” with local executives.

In Talisay and Lapu-Lapu Cities, fear and intimidation do not sugarcoat the greed. Allen, Tricia, and Malou said they accepted the P1,400-P1,500 given to them, believing that the leader already skimmed a lot of the “kamang” funds before distribution.

Tricia and Malou justified their acceptance of the money by saying that they will vote “according to conscience.” Allen said he is waiting for the “other side” to approach him with the “counter-offer.”

The three said that the “leaders” did not leave a list, only oral instructions on the candidates to support. Voters in the cities are “more educated” than those in the province, said Tricia.

The political maturity of some Filipino voters leaves much to be desired despite the impressive advance of technology promoting communication and literacy.

The 2022 election brings invaluable insights that should serve as impetus for all stakeholders, especially voters, to work harder to participate productively in democratic governance.

Facts were frequent casualties during the past six years. In the polarizing, bruising incivility that overwhelmed interactions between citizens with different beliefs, advocacies, and political affiliations, accuracy of information and accountability for opinions were sacrificed.

With netizens sharing the power of communication and technology with journalists and politicians, media literacy and self-regulation are needed to correct misinformation and disinformation.

While the former involves the spread of false or unverified information, the latter implies malice and design to distort facts, manipulate beliefs, and turn fabrications into weapons for destroying the reputations of persons and entities.

No end justifies the misuse of the means of communication for self-serving goals.

“We still have work to do before, on, and after the elections,” pointed out academic Fernando dlC. Paragas, dean of the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman.

In his message posted on the official Facebook page of the CMC, Paragas urged, “... let us doubly work together after the elections to do research, creative work, and public service that advance our nation, to foster conversations about issues salient to our polity, and to intensify our efforts to address the challenge of mis-, dis-, and mal-information.”

While elections are an essential exercise in deciding and choosing leaders for public office, they are not the entire process. Governance involves other opportunities for all stakeholders, especially civil society, to engage with their elected officials.

In the continuing pursuit to secure economic opportunities, enhance liveability, and attain social justice for all Filipinos, especially the vulnerable and the disenfranchised, citizens must continue to share the stake in governance, holding public servants accountable for policies and decisions affecting public welfare and monitoring public spending and public service.

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