'Compassion' a big factor in PH candidates' popularity

by Ria de Fiesta, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 03 2014 11:29 PM | Updated as of May 04 2014 07:55 AM

MANILA – A political analyst on Saturday said compassion plays a big role in the popularity of candidates in Philippine elections due to social inequality.

“Isang dahilan siguro kung bakit mahalaga yung compassion, kasi unequal yung lipunan natin. Ang laki ng gap ng mayaman sa mahirap,” Dr. Nicole Curato, a sociologist from the University of the Philippines, said during Saturday’s Pasada Sais Trenta on radio DZMM.

Curato said several surveys and studies have been made on why former President Joseph Estrada was popular among the masses, the so-called “Erap factor."

“Marami na pong pag-aaral. Talagang sinubukang aralin kung ano ba talaga itong Erap factor, bakit mahal na mahal sya ng mahihirap,” she said.

According to Curato, the characteristics of the now Manila mayor are different from those of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is the preferred presidential candidate of some 40 percent of respondents, according to a Pulse Asia survey conducted last March.

She said Binay gets support from all classes of society, unlike Estrada where the support from the lower income classes is stronger.

Curato added the support for the vice president is similar to the socio-economic preferences for his daughter, Nancy Binay, in the 2013 mid-term electionis.

“Kung ihahambing natin ang outcome ng survey ni Nancy Binay noong nakaraang eleksyon, medyo ganyan din ang spread. So isa itong indikasyon na ang socio-economic class hindi sya isang malakas na batayan para malaman kung sino ang mananalo o kung saan nanggaling ang boto,” Curato said.

She said that historically, a candidate’s bailiwick--rather than socio-economic class--is usually the determining factor of his or her popularity, which makes the results of the recent Pulse Asia survey “very interesting.”

“Kasi pag sinabi mong Binay, karaniwan, masa vote yan. Pero kung titingnan natin ang initial survey na ito at ihahambing natin sa nakaraan na survey noong tumakbo si [Senator] Nancy Binay, walang ganoong klaseng [socio-economic class] factor na lumalabas,” Curato pointed out.

Even though Estrada was convicted of plunder and had other moral issues raised against, it had no effect on voters' choices. Estrada topped the 1998 elections and placed second in the 2010 presidential elections.

Curato aaid the biggest lesson here is that mudslinging does not work when it comes to voters' choices.

“Wag natin kalimutan na karaniwan kasi pag sinabing Erap or Binay, sinisiraan. Pero ang biggest lesson dito, hindi nagwo-work yun e. Hindi yun yung klase ng diskurso na nagwo-work. So kailangan natin i-engage yung idea na people want a compassionate leader. At dun tayo maghanap, kung di natin sila gusto bilang politicians, ano yung kailangan natin gawin para i-address yung demand para sa isang compassionate leader,” Curato said.

Asked about her view on Binay's lead in the survey, Curato said this is not anymore surprising.

“Yung huling lumabas na Pulse na trust rating, 80 percent na yung trust rating sa kanya, so yung 40 percent na voting preference sa kanya, medyo hindi na rin sya nakakagulat. Yung interesting dun, ang laki yata ng 40. Kasi nung binalikan ko ulit yung May 2009 survey, bago mag presidential elections, si Kabayan yung leading at 18 percent. Tapos yung kasunod si Chiz Escudero at 17. So nung 2009, dikit dikit yung preferences. Pero itong 40 percent tapos yung kasunod 15 percent kay Grace Poe, parang to me as as social scientist, magandang tanong, bakit? Kasi at this point pa lang, ang laki na ng gap,” she said.

WEAK POLITICAL PARTIES

Meanwhile, Professor Edmund Tayao of the University of Santo Tomas, believes Philippine elections are “personality-oriented," with political parties playing minor roles.

“Ang tingin ko, more than the concept ng society, ay yung lack of institutions, kasi hindi naman naiintindihan ng tao yung konsepto ng estado, konsepto ng political party. Lahat ng bagay na may kinalaman sa politika, laging nakatutuok sa personalidad, kung sino yung mukha sa loob ng usapin na kailangang intindihin ng masa, kung meron mang maintindihan,” he said.

According to Tayao, if candidates or politicians want the people to understand their advocacy, then they should not second guess the masses.

“Kung talagang gusto mong maintindihan ng taongbayan ang adbokasiya mo, don’t second guess the general public na hindi naman nila maintindihan ito e. So dito natin dalhin yung usapin, ilatag mo lahat ng detalye, kung maintindihan man nila o hindi, darating ang panahon na maintindihan nila kasi naririnig nila,” Tayao said.

“You change the rules of the game, you more or less open up opportunities for other sectors or other groups of people who may finally find themselves in power or in some point of authority,” he added.

Dr. Edna Co, former dean of the UP College of Public Administration and Governance, also does not see political parties as a contributing factor for a candidate’s victory.

“Yung question kasi ng political party, I don’t think sa Pilipinas mayroon talaga tayong malinaw na political party. Again, parang usapin ulit ito ng personalidad, kung titingnan natin kung sino yung mga nanalo, at nagdominate sa mga election, pagtitiwala ng mga tao, kung sino pinaniniwalaan nila, pero hindi pumapasok sa isipan dito yung political party. Minsan-minsan siguro yung political party nagiging isang factor kung halimbawa ang gusto ng ating botante e magkaroon ng mas masiglang dynamics sa loob ng isang Kongreso o ng Senado, kaya pinaghahalo-halo nila ang choice ng mga tao. Pero it’s not really about political party,” she said.

She described the country’s political parties as “struggling."

“Ang description ko nga, parang struggling ang ating political party, nagsisikap. Subalit ang mahirap dyan, pag ang mentalidad ng mga kababayan natin ay wala man lang doon sa anggulo ng political party, ang hirap mag kampanya,” she explained.

Co said the pork barrel scam may have an impact on voters' choices in the next elections.

“Palagay ko kahit paano matatandaan ng ating mga kababayan yung issue ng PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] at saka yung magiging involvement ng ilang politiko o posibleng kandidato dun sa usapin ng PDAF. Dahil mayroon din tayong section ng ating population na napaka-kritikal, nagiisip, kahit paano ito ay sasagi sa isip nila pagdating ng botohan,” she said.