Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


At boiling point

Posted on April 24, 2016 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN My UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2016 – 12:00am

Everything is at boiling point. Election fever is now hotter than the summer heat.

The Duterte fans are back to insulting and threatening everyone at a more intense level these days. I didn’t think they could get any worse. The callous joke about the missionary rape and murder victim has aroused anger everywhere. Most everyone is angry. The Australian, US and other ambassadors from different countries have expressed their stand on the topic, saying rape is not a joke. The women’s groups have come together and have strongly condemned Duterte for promoting rape culture.

His followers on Twitter and Facebook were initially quiet on the issue, perhaps because of shame. But a few followers tried to reiterate the Duterte line that his comment was only a joke. Soon enough they started throwing insults at people who angrily disagreed with them. I guess bad habits die hard. I often shudder at the thought of what they would be like if they ever get to be in power.

Duterte is one hell of a candidate. His loose lips have created controversies from the beginning of the campaign. He has managed to, singlehandedly and without intention, upset the Catholics with his Cursing the Pope “joke,” the Mexican ambassador in a speech where he called Mexico a dangerous drug-infested place, and a whole lot of decent Filipinos who are shocked at his views and treatment of women and his cavalier proclamations about death squads, China, the NPA, and other awful topics. He shoots from the hip. His positions on issues are not well thought out. Rhetoric generating heat but no light.

Meanwhile, there is also a lot of movement in the other camps. Leni Robredo’s numbers continue to rise. She is currently at the number one position and still has not peaked. Mar’s numbers continue to be low but his supporters have stepped up the campaign on social media and have done a marvelous job spreading information on his programs and countering false, malicious memes and outright lies that are thrown at him. They’ve also made Duterte’s statement on rape go viral online. As a result, we’ve been hearing about Duterte followers switching to Mar in pretty large numbers and proclaiming it on Facebook.

Grace Poe’s numbers continue to play between top or second position. And Binay seems to have lost his momentum.

Looking back at the 2010 elections, the numbers changed dramatically in the period between the last survey and election day itself. During that period, Villar lost 17 points, most of which went to P-Noy. Loren lost 14 points to Binay, which helped him win over Mar Roxas.

It will probably play out this way again. I have not met anyone willing to make a solid prediction on who will become our next president and VP. Things are too unpredictable, barely two weeks before election day. There is still a sizable group of “undecided” being courted by candidates.

But these are what I think we should concern ourselves with:

1) We will have a new president and VP after May 9. And barring any cheating, and if the polls are certifiably peaceful and clean, we must all be ready to accept the verdict of the electorate. Even if we think it is a case of Vox Populi Vox Crazy, we must accept that, in a democracy, the majority wins. That’s just how it is.

2) We must also accept that in the end, elections are not about dividing people, although it sure feels that way. In the end, we must rally and support the new government, whoever is at its helm. We are one country. We must not regard our political adversaries in a way that leaves no room for shaking hands after the election. This is not about “ubusan ng lahi.” We still have to be one people and give our elected leaders a chance to lead us within the framework of our democracy’s laws and order.

3) Lastly, let us look at this exercise as a testament to our growing democracy. While the campaign has been intense, let us hope that we will have mostly conducted ourselves civilly, within the democratic framework, when we do exercise our right to vote. Our democracy can only be strengthened when we abide by its laws.

Elections come and go. Leaders change. Six years is not long, if we have good leaders. If we are not happy with what we get, there are legal ways to change them.

Meanwhile, is it possible to cool things down a bit?

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