MACHINERY. It sounds so artificial and cold, diabolical even.
VP Jejomar Binay recently made the pronouncement that the election end-game would be between him and Mar Roxas because only they have the machinery to win the elections. I also read several people’s opinions agreeing with the statement saying that the past elections have been won by machinery rather than by what was indicated in polls and surveys.
But what is this thing called machinery?
According to several friends I have asked, some of them having actual experience in organizing campaigns, it is primarily access to funds from rich backers (whether individuals or businesses) -- which is used for political advertising, for recruiting campaign organizers, for holding sorties in rural areas with limited access to media and so on.
The dark side (no pun intended) of this machinery is that funds are also used to reward backers, to buy votes whether in cash or in kind, or to cheat. Winning candidates are then obligated to protect the interests of their backers, their interests and their businesses, for the duration of their term.
Machinery makes a mockery of democracy.
Of the five presidential candidates we have, only Duterte envisions to break the vicious cycle of machinery and patronage politics. Only he has refused funding from big businesses and businessmen because he does not want to be indebted to them if he wins. Compare the life and spirit of volunteerism in his campaigns with the inherent indebtedness of machinery in others.
Just the other day, I talked to a local salesman. He told me that he had bought and sent a few hundred Duterte ballers for his friends and relatives in Manila, all from his own pocket. Another friend of mine prints shirts and gives away stickers. You see this spirit of volunteerism happening all over the city and all over the country. I do not recall an election where there this sort of thing happened for any candidate.
His rallies are jam-packed with numbers unprecedented in previous elections. Even in Hong Kong, when he was NOT present, his crowd far outnumbered that of another candidate who was physically there. A friend of mine who used to work for one of the candidates in a previous election said that they had to do some serious “engineering” (in other words, hakot) in order to gather a crowd of five thousand. Duterte easily draws crowds of twenty thousand organically, without need of enticements such as food, entertainment, giveaways or dole-outs.
And as if that were not enough, observe what happens after his rallies. Attendees pick up their own trash and leave the place spotlessly clean,
One woman shared her experience after attending the Alabang rally. She was tired and was thinking of jaywalking to cross the street. However, she looked down at her Duterte shirt and thought that if she honestly wanted change, she would have to start with herself. She ended up climbing the overpass to get to the other side of the street.
Now tell me if a Binay, Mar or Poe can inspire this sort of epiphany. People are tired of machinery, of the political circus that only has us going in circles. The time is ripe for change. And yes, change starts with ourselves, but sometimes we need someone to inspire us to change. I am voting for the president who can provide that sort of inspiration.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 15, 2016.
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