Even if Filipinos are living in poverty and aware of corruption, they tend to be narrow-minded during elections as they want to be entertained, UST Political Science Department Asst. Prof. Dennis Coronacion said.
In an interview, Coronacion said that politicians are expected to entertain the voters more during the campaign instead of revealing their plans and priorities once elected.
“Yung mga candidates ayaw nilang pag usapan nang seryoso ang mga issues kasi alam nilang walang makikinig, kaya ang gagawin na lang nila, eentertain nila yung mga tao,” Coronacion he told TomasinoWeb.
He emphasized that it has been around for a long time, ever since democracy was institutionalized in the country, and explained that this sort of campaigning can be called a populist type.
According to the Political Science professor, the populist type of campaign in the BSKE reflects the situation in National politics as candidates find it helpful to gain voters.
During the 2019 midterm elections, then-senatorial candidate Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. danced his way back to the senate called “budots” in his political advertisement— he ranked 11th in the senatorial race. Meanwhile, Revilla said on a radio station after the election, “Tayo ay mag perform sa Senado. Hindi tayo magsasayaw lang diyan.”
Coronacion added that having a campaign that talks about serious issues “causes a negative impact” on candidates' winnability because they know no one will listen. Hence, choosing to entertain the voters through dancing or other activities.
“Candidates find it very useful if they will mingle with the people, kaya nga lang ang problema don kasi, if that’s the dominant campaign style, you may get elected as a candidate, but you won’t get to address the issues that need to be addressed,” he continued.
Meanwhile, former chairperson of the Communication Arts Students Association, now SK chairman candidate Martin Alcantara, explained that platforms play little of a factor in small local elections, unlike in the University.
“Dito sa mga rural areas, sa mga politics talaga outside the University, name recall becomes a factor, and your political influence also becomes a factor [in winning].” Still, Alcantara insisted on promoting his platforms and credentials as part of the campaign even though he thinks voters' ability to recall politicians' names impacts election outcomes.
He explained that while some voter shows value in checking the credentials of candidates, friendliness and comradeship still matters a lot.
The SK chairman aspirant added that students at the University base their votes on the credentials of the candidates, while voters in local areas have a “padrino system.”
“Dito, you have to talk to the family head ganon,. You have to arrange parang mga salo-salo para sa kanila tas kakausapin mo silang lahat,” he said.
During the 16th Congress, Republic Act (RA) 10742 was passed that specifies an SK official should not be related to any incumbent elected national, regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay official within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.
The Commission on Elections on Oct. 12 disqualified two SK candidates on the grounds of consanguinity. They also filed petitions for disqualification on Oct. 20 against 145 candidates on the grounds of early campaigning.
Meanwhile, Artlets Student Council Adviser Mr. Renz Paolo Ramos explained that SK is a “unique” government structure as the youth is at the forefront of leadership.
The voters of the SK chairperson and members are composed of registered voters aged 15 to 30, according to Chapter 2, Section 10 of RA 10742. The same law specifies that an SK candidate should be at least 18 but not more than 24 years old on the day of the elections, which distinguishes it from other elections held in the country.
Ramos added that candidates gunning for the SK positions should become partners in nation-building by creating more opportunities for their fellow youth.
“The role of the SK in local governance and youth empowerment should be belittled and be reduced to sports-related projects and ‘street sign’ politics,” he said.
However, SK candidate and former Central Student Council vice president Gerald Mathew Dela Cruz said that while sports-related activities are needed to distract the youth from “reality” and may “boost confidence,” projects of the SK should not be limited to such.
Dela Cruz explained that it is a challenge for SK candidates to establish accountability through good governance.
“Hindi lang dapat don natatapos yung programa ng SK…yung mga bata pa lang na nagsisimula mag silbi sa bayan natin, hindi na kurakot…nakita natin yung nangyayari sa national [government], it is a challenge for us,” he said.
Similar to Dela Cruz’s sentiments, Alcantara also believed that pageants and leagues are part of SK to entertain the youth but emphasized that such projects should not be the only thing SK does.
He explained that they should also have projects concerning empowerment and platforms related to education as it is part of SK’s job to “hone” the youth.
“Kailangan pa din naman yung mga liga kasi we have to entertain the people. Kasi baka mamaya puro nandon tayo sa lahat ng serious part, magkaroon ng burn out yung mga tao,” he said.
The SK is entitled to have 10 percent of the barangay’s budget according to section 20 (a) of RA 10742. To provide better projects, Ramos added that candidates elected in the upcoming elections should use social media to “listen to the struggles and challenges of the Filipino youth today.”
He added that the projects and policies that are based on consultations will make a positive impact on the youth.