LATE Saturday afternoon, north district and administration Councilor Niña Mabatid posted on her Facebook account photos of the Cebu delegation attending the PDP-Laban national assembly held at Royce Hotel, Clark Field, Pampanga. They were raising their hands with the caption: “It’s official! Thank you, Lord. Good luck to us for 2022. Mayor Mike Rama please insert. Mayor, vice mayor, Congress and councilors.” Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino was in the center.
In the photo were Jerry Guardo, Dondon Hontiveros, James Cuenco, Quiot Barangay Captain Francis Espares, Joy Pesquera, Mabatid, Dino, Raymund Garcia, Joey Daluz, Dave Tumulak, Ramil Ayuman, City Attorney Rey Gealon and Junjun Osmeña. (I hope I did not miss anybody). More individual photos followed early in the evening with President Rodrigo Duterte.
In her photos, Mabatid had a big smile and she has reason to be happy. Reading between the lines of her caption, I can only surmise that she is the anointed one to run for Congress in the north district because TV and movie star Kapuso Richard Yap was not with the group. He may run as an independent.
Mike was not in the photo, too, but he and Dino met early in Manila on that day. I texted a friend who was with the group (name withheld) and he confirmed that those personalities are temporarily in the lineup under Barug and the Kugi, Uswag Sugbo and Panaghiusa coalition. Mike is the group’s mayoral candidate, while Garcia is the vice mayoral candidate. The source said it’s “temporary” because it’s not yet the final lineup. There might be changes before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October. Besides, it is still a toss between Edu Rama and Hontiveros for the south congressional district. But do not discount the entry of Dave Tumulak? He is on his last term as councilor in the south and he has been a consistent topnotcher. The lineup for the councilorial slate, both in the north and south districts, is still lacking.
So this lineup confirms earlier reports that Mayor Edgardo Labella is not seeking reelection for health reasons. But who knows? Maybe before October Labella will fully recover and hurdle and overcome the rigorous campaign. Last week, Rama had a one-on-one meeting with President Duterte in Malacañang. Although it was not divulged what they discussed, there are speculations that Rama will be the administration’s official mayoral candidate.
Meanwhile, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) has been tight-lipped on their lineup. Will be it former mayor Tomas Osmeña or south district Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa for mayor? Both are already visible in their community dialogues. Another personality who is making rounds in the barangays is Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) education and information officer Art Barrit. I have heard he is running for a City Council seat in the north district under BOPK. Good luck, “Uncle Art.”
Because of the pandemic, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prohibited candidates for next year’s national and local elections from conducting the traditional way of campaigning or the so-called “public display of affection” (PDA) campaign strategy. What are these PDA strategies? These are hand-shaking with people and cuddling and kissing of children. The candidates are to hold political gatherings, such as “pulong-pulongs” (dialogues), rallies and miting de avance, provided it is in open places and with limited attendance.
Local government units (LGUs) are authorized to issue permits for political mass gatherings. Also, giving of food to the electorate. As of this time, the poll body, in coordination with other government agencies like the Department of Health and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, are formulating guidelines for the campaign period, especially if mass gathering are involved.
With several traditional campaign strategies prohibited, we can expect the campaign battleground to be on social media and mainstream media. Those who can afford to hire “keyboard warriors” and place their political advertisements in the mainstream media have the advantage. We can expect more radio political blocktimers to surface.
Social media will play a vital role in the coming elections, more vital than the mainstream media considering it’s free. Today, the Philippines has become the most “social nation” in the world, with 80.55 million active users on Facebook, as of February 2021. This accounted for 77.7 percent of the entire population. These social media users, especially the millennials, could very well swing the tide this coming elections. For millennials, social media is the lifeline of information and misinformation and fake news.
Social media can provide free advertisement, highlight important advocacy work, make speeches and statements readily available and help candidates promote their campaign messages widely and free. Even before the filing of the certificates of candidacy this October, those who have the intention to seek elective positions in next year’s election are already visible on social media. They are already posting their activities, while some have come up with regular online programs like handling a traditional radio program.