Divided attention: Analyst says voters losing focus on local polls

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

The national and local elections happening simultaneously has divided the attention of voters and this may result to a lackluster performance from local leaders, an analyst warned Tuesday.

“Some people who have studied local politics, for instance, say that’s the sad part of the synchronized election. We focus so much on the national elections that we forget that there is a local election that is also going to take place simultaneously with the national elections. But they don’t get to focus on the local elections,” Assistant Professor Jean Encinas-Franco of the University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy said on Headstart.

With too much focus on the national polls, some voters think local issues should also be addressed by national leaders.

“Because people are not aware that problem of basura, for instance, is a problem local government problem, they see it as a problem that the president should address,” Encinas-Franco said.

She also said that there are 500 local candidates who run unopposed and this is not good in a democratic society like the Philippines.

“The losers are really the constituents and even if the candidates, let’s say, did well during their first term, I think it’s also good for democracy to have opponents because then these incumbents would be challenged enough to do better. I’m sure you can always to better in terms of basic services to the people.”

LOCAL BETS AND MACHINERY

The commencement of local campaigns is anticipated to fortify the national candidates’ machinery in reaching as many people. Encinas-Franco, however, warned that this would not always translate to more votes.

“When it comes to machinery, it’s actually reciprocal. It’s expected that local candidates will also benefit as well as the national candidates that they will supporting. It’s the name of the game, so to speak. But there have been instances when the narratives or the ideas or the message that the political candidates at the national level have carried have actually trumped machinery at the local level.”

READ: How local bets, machinery help national candidates

Among the presidential candidates, she identified Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas as having machineries and Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte as having narratives.

With the United Nationalist Alliance’s support for Binay, Encinas-Franco said the party can rally their local supporters to off-set the non-endorsement of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Roxas’ camp, however, has a disconnect with the masses, she said, and the comic book only aggravated the issue.

WATCH: Comic book claims Roxas was a 'hero' during Yolanda

The endorsement of Estrada, while it could be beneficial to Poe because of his national popularity, could also be a “turn-off for the thinking voter."

Duterte’s image of anti-crime whiz is effective among the ABC classes, said Encinas-Franco. She also lauded how he has brought the discourse on peace and order a top priority among presidential candidates.

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