Rage and premature campaigning-A A +A
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I STUMBLED upon a Facebook post by a “Sisinio Andales” extolling the virtues of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) campaign style over that of its rival, presumably the group of Mayor Michael Rama. This “Sisinio Andales,” considering his profile picture, is obviously the Cebu City councilor—a lawyer and a former barangay captain.
What caught my attention to the post was not the photo. Rather, it was the gall with which a questionable act was being bandied about. Consider how the official proudly described what BOPK did (I am paraphrasing in English, for clarity, his post written in Cebuano):
“BOPK’s secret in winning elections is its solid style of campaigning. This is different from other groups whose campaigning is unorganized. They are not even sure whether they want to join their village meetings (pulong-pulong) or not. They think the other group is weak especially because in the north district there are many incumbent (translation: BOPK) councilors.”
This was his reaction to a thread in Maghisgot Kitag Politika Bay started by an Arjan Gibs Baquiran Dadula that went this way: “Full force ang pagpangumpanya sa Team BOPK diri sa among dapit, Sitio Univille, Brgy. Kasambagan, ug sa Sitio Baca, Brgy. Apas, Dakbayan sa Sugbo karon (meaning, yesterday).”
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced in May this year that the campaign period for the May 2013 elections will start on Feb. 12 for those running for senator and in the party-list polls and March 29 for the local candidates. In reality, however, politicians and political parties have started doing their thing this year or even before that.
This has been the practice in previous elections. But one difference between now and before is that this year the premature campaigning has become brazen especially in hotly contested areas. And this seems to be an offshoot to the admission by Comelec officials that it could not do anything much against premature campaigning.
To be fair, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. did call on Congress to pass a clear law against premature campaigning. But, for one reason or another, nobody picked Brillantes’s appeal. This is what apparently emboldened officials not only to start the campaigning early but also to do it openly. The move is being propped up by legalists.
By legalists I mean those who cool down every condemnation of premature campaigning.
These people, some of them lawyers, spread the gospel of surrender by insisting that since nothing could be done about premature campaigning, we should rather accept its existence. They downplay the unfairness of such a setup and gloss over the moral aspect.
These legalists are sometimes the bane of our existence. Had their thinking been allowed to prevail during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the Edsa people power uprising would not have happened and we still would have been ruled by the Marcoses and their minions. Nobody would have pushed the limits of the legal and expanded democratic space.
There might not be a law yet that those who frown upon premature campaigning can use against erring politicians but that does not mean well-meaning people should already wallow in passivity. We should continue to condemn and push for what is right. We should not allow these candidates and political groups to acquire the gall to brag about how successful they are in campaigning prematurely.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 05, 2012.