The election period for the barangay polls will start at the end of this month. One turnoff for voters in this election is that they seldom know who the candidates are except for their names and positions.
Unlike in national and local exercises, candidates for the barangay election are not well-known even in their own barangays. I have heard people say they usually skip the barangay election because they do not know the candidates, and that missing one election anyway will not result in forfeiture of voting rights. Those who do vote end up randomly choosing their bets.
It does not help that the barangay elections have been postponed several times, giving voters the notion that even the government thinks the exercise is less important than other elections.
The barangay election will happen on Oct. 30, 2023. It was initially scheduled in May 2020 but, in December 2019, a law was passed postponing the election to December 2022. In October 2022, another law was passed, this time moving the election to Oct. 30, 2023. A recent Supreme Court decision made sure the barangay election this year pushes through and that it be held every three years from the next exercise in December 2025.
The election period for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials is from Aug. 28 to Nov. 29. The filing of the certificate of candidacy is from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, and campaigning on Oct. 19 to 28. A 10-day campaign period is not enough time for candidates to introduce themselves.
Enter generative artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, which takes text inputs and produces answers to questions or prompts. The term GPT stands for generative pretrained transformer. Go to https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt, sign up, and click the button that says “Try ChatGPT.” There are paid versions but the free one should be a good start. Ask it about a particular candidate.
ChatGPT has a knowledge base of up to September 2021 but gets updates regularly and it reads the news. I asked ChatGPT for a profile of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. It responded with a list of accomplishments as mayor, on infrastructure and development, local governance, community engagement, challenges and controversies, and economic development.
I prompted ChatGPT to give a profile of a Cebu City barangay captain of my choice, it returned with an apology saying that “as of my last knowledge update in September 2021, I don’t have specific information” about this particular barangay official. “It’s possible that he assumed office after that date or that information about him is not widely available in my current dataset,” it said. It suggested I check “local government websites, official social media accounts, local news sources, or reaching out to local authorities for the most up-to-date information.”
Give it time, and perhaps after the filing of candidacy papers when we have the names of those running for office, it would have a profile of otherwise unknown candidates.