Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Pinoys Vote: The Hard Truth

If professional survey groups are right that 55% of the Philippine electorate belongs to the low-income but non-poor group and 32% of the population is living below the poverty line, then I can understand how FPJ could have actually won the last presidential election; why Erap in spite of having been convicted of plunder is still popular among the Filipino people; and why Filipinos are still singing David Pomeranz' Got to Believe in Magic.

This means that a great majority of our people are either uneducated or undereducated. They are those who live in multi-family dwellings. The rest are either educated enough to have landed good paying jobs that enabled them to afford a home mortgage or rent a decent house for their family. Those who belong to the critical thinking educated group are, politically speaking, insignificant in number. Hence, should they wish to influence the way people vote, they need to work very hard in educating them.

When the late Senator Roco was a presidential candidate, he said that what Filipinos need most is kaalaman. He was right on the money. It behooves moral movements and non-government corporations concerned with crime and corruption to seriously focus on values formation first, then teach our people basic politics, sociology and economics.

To expect today's Filipino electorate to understand different socio-politico-economic philosophies and how decisions based on them affect public policy is unrealistic. Lets observe: Survey says that if elections were made today, 28% of the vote will be for Villar. This is because Pinoys are fast becoming familiar with his face and name that depict Wealth and they would want to be identified with his success and argue that the man knows how to get things done. 19% will vote for Erap - because they still believe that he can feel their pain. 16% will vote for De Castro - due to party loyalty. 12% will vote for Escudero - because they are attracted to him. 11% will vote for Roxas - on account of his prestigious name and/or their affiliation with the Liberal Party. While Fernando, Gordon and Panlilio, who appear to have the most to show for their long standing and fruitful public service will garner less than 3% of the vote.

I am not a prophet but I am willing to predict that as soon as Noynoy Aquino announces his candidacy, all bets are off and his initial rating would be close to 50% because of a certain Filipino trait - utang na loob. Ninoy and Cory made Filipinos feel good about themselves albeit for just a little while. Nothing will be lost in translation here: A vote for Noynoy is a vote for Ninoy and Cory. Regardless of how sophisticated or naive Pinoy voters are, majority of them will vote for Noynoy because of utang na loob. And in this case, it is not bad at all. The absence of scandal or controversy associated with his track record is making it less difficult for the undecided to finally make the choice to support him. Case is closed. Noynoy will be the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Again, I am not a prophet. This is not an endorsement. This is merely a humble prediction made by a political observer.

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