WE HAVE witnessed the heat of Philippine politics as attendees in rallies have increased. While the election is practically the real measure in choosing leaders, however, rallies are also integral components in the exercise of civil liberties in a democracy. It is always important to go back to what has been said time and again: “elections are necessary but not sufficient.”
There is truth in the statement that rallies do not necessarily translate to "wins" but we should also keep in mind that attendance in rallies may be analyzed from a different angle. If politics, as Harold Lasswell says, is about “who gets what, when, [and] how” then no analyst should say that the surveys are the only dogmatic and definitive data sources in determining a politician’s locus of power. This is especially true when the supporters are not just passive warm bodies transported from the municipalities but engaged and invested citizens who are willing to fight and die for their candidate.
We shall go back to this point before the end of this article. It is worth noting and elaborate what Professor Jorge Tigno of UP Diliman Political Science Department said about the Leni and BBM rallies. According to Tigno, “although both the Robredo and Marcos camps have managed to draw bigger crowds” and show “grassroots support” however there are main differences in quality (not much quantity) in their mass gatherings.
Tigno highlights that the Robredo crowd is “dedicated and composed of highly voluntary participants.” Another trademark of the Kakampink, still according to the UP professor, is that their rallies are “not just a matter of people (warm bodies), but also people who come with ideas, families, self-made resources, [and] even free food,” thus it appears “festive in vibe” and presents a “promise of collective action.” In addition, they are “more granular, more diverse, and more inclusive/pluralistic (you do not see this level of diversity in the Marcos rallies).”
As regards the Marcos rallies, Tigno observes that they “appear consistent” with their “Unity Slogan” But its participants appear to be “more rehearsed, artificial, and lacking in diversity.”
As I have said at the onset, rallies may not necessarily translate to votes but they do tell us as to who sides with who. We should not forget that politics continues beyond elections. Election day is not the end-all and be-all of Philippine politics.
Assuming Leni Robredo will lose, however, the sentiments and sympathies for her cannot be immediately withdrawn in favor of the winner, say BBM. Even if Pulse Asia is right that BBM will be a majority president, sadly our system is not designed as a “winner takes it all” where the newly installed president would be assured of a start free from doubts and criticisms. The minority (assuming that it is really a minority), so to speak, remains to be a fraction of the Philippine population to which the new administration must prove its worth.
It is thus a challenge and a serious question whether a probable BBM presidency can convince or win over the Leni crowds to his yard. Reaching out to the Kakampinks will have to be part of his serious goal if indeed he shall live up to his promise of “unity.” How he shall deal with the criticisms and corrections of those who did not vote for him will also test whether a BBM leadership would reveal the “new face of a Marcos.”
April 25, 2022
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