I WAS amused more than surprised to read in our paper the other day that Councilor Angie Hizon discovered an alleged spy in one of her run-up to the election activities as she challenges Vice Mayor Jimmy Lazatin in next year's polls.
The named spy had probably been embedded in her camp for quite a time until he was found out. I thought, though, that so-called spies, or what pass for them in any language, are always hidden in plain sight in any candidate's camp. They don't exactly wear uniforms to give away their inclination. They're not exactly opaque, either.
I remember that in an election not too long ago, a candidate I know hired a group of election specialists and one of its members was a loquacious former Commission on Elections (Comelec) official. His presence further amped the candidate's expectation that victory was almost certain. Besides, surveys showed he was leading, feeding the egos of both parties.
The candidate, however, lost, and lost terribly by the proverbial mile.
One practical advice given by the group was quoted from Michael Coleorne in the Godfather: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Translation: always keep a tight watch on your enemy, meaning: spy on what he's doing.
How did the candidate do it?
He didn't exactly employ a spy to do the job. Everyone who came to him was already bringing him more tales and tactics than he needed to know from the other camp. The self-anointed spy was either a veteran or a newbie in the game. And what he knew was worth knowing by the candidate.
It turned out, the volunteer spy was also doing the same thing for the other candidate. In the scheme of things, everybody was suspected of doing the same thing. The game was played like a template. The candidate allowed it because the “intel” could be valuable. At least he knew what was going on the other side, or so he thought. There was an unspoken trade-off, naturally.
Of course, the spy was given his due reward, in kind or cash and some flattering words. It was a game of smarts, of fools, if you will, and the distinction is blurred.
Employing a spy is a fool's errand. It's tricky and dicey. At the end of the day, what matters is not whether your spy will bring you scraps from the other side but will vote for you on election day. Ultimately, given how votes have long been commodified in this neck of the woods, it's the highest bidder that invariably wins. Ask those in the know.
I recall a candidate in the first district who payrolled at least 44 spies in our barangay in Magalang who he thought were at least equivalent to the same number of votes plus their families in addition to the sleuthing service they would render to him.
The candidate lost, of course. Worse, he found out that he got only 22 votes from our barangay.
Barnum is right: a sucker is born every minute, more and faster during the election season.