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Who’re you for?

TAKE it from Senator Cynthia Villar, who helped her husband Manny run a presidential campaign in 2010 that many voters recall as possibly the most expensive: “A candidate for a national position needs 98 percent awareness, or else forget it.” She might well have added, “And an extra 3 or 4 billion in the bank won’t hurt.”

The 2016 elections are so tightly, hotly contested, each candidate’s bill – except Senator Miriam Santiago’s – will likely overshoot the maximum allowed by law, but please remember what happened to Laguna Gov. E.R. Ejercito, who was evicted from his post for overspending. A family driver (not mine) has observed that he has seen more Duterte stickers on cars crawling around Metro Manila than any other candidate’s, considering that the mayor is not a Manila boy. The driver’s not wide of the mark – Mayor Duterte tops the spending for TV ads.

As the day of reckoning approaches, voters seem to have calmed down somewhat, keeping their choice for president and vice president close to their chest, venturing only as far as friends to ask, “Who are you for, really?” as if friends’ answers could guide them or help them change their mind. One “friend” asked me who I was for, but as soon as I told her what I thought would make “the ideal pair,” she flared up and began lecturing me. With unpleasant people like her, good luck to her candidates, who are probably just like her.

While the presidential elections occupy our time, attention, and, dare I say it, aspirations, the local elections do not seem to provoke the same excitement, at least not in the Metro Manila we know. Whereas mayors and ex-mayors, vice mayors and councilors, policemen, auditors, tax collectors, barangay leaders and their ilk are getting shot, killed, ambushed every day out there in the provinces, the frenzy over here pales in comparison. Is it because the heat is being generated, no longer by TV (so focused on the presidential candidates!), no longer by the press (followed by a fading, senior readership, so they say) but by social media (where curses, bad words, ill feelings expressed crudely comprise the new political jargon)? Social by being anti-social?

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