Expect 2022 polls to be 'more messy,' dirtier as COVID-19 pandemic persists, says expert

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2021 11:18 AM

Expect 2022 polls to be 'more messy,' dirtier as COVID-19 pandemic persists, says expert 1
People line up at the Commission on Elections in Pasay City on the first day of voter’s registration, Sept. 1, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Vote buying and the proliferation of fake news are expected to worsen in the 2022 national elections as the Philippines elects new leaders against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, a political science expert said Wednesday.

Policies on keeping distance between individuals and other pandemic-related protocol during campaigns and election day push political operators to be "more subtle" in handing out bribes, Arjan Aguirre, a Political Science professor from the Ateneo de Manila University, said in an online forum.

"We are under this pandemic so people will still go out to vote, but the vote buying will be more subtle and more widespread," he said.

"It's not gonna be more visible," he said.

Smear campaigns may also gain traction online as some candidates will be forced to allocate more funds in cyber operations with voters still confined indoors because of the pandemic, he said.

"Itong fake news na ito mas magiging intense pa ito dahil dadaloy ang pera," Aguirre said.

(Fake news will be more intense because it will be boosted by funds.)

"Mas maraming online engagements [ngayong pandemic], mas maraming PR firms ang mag-e-emerge to work so mas madumi siya, mas messy," he said.

(There ae more online engagements during the pandemic, so more public relation firms will emerge to work so it will be dirtier, messier.)

Aguirre said institutions should "step up" to counter disinformation as the Philippines braces for the campaign and election season under a new normal.

"Ang Church ba magfa-fact check siya? Sasama ba siya sa traditional response?" he said.

"Will the Church be an actor, an institution that will really invite people to reflect on these issues that are being thrown in cyberspace?"


Voter education should be "reframed" to address new and existing issues in the electoral process, sociologist Jayeel Cornelio said.

"The poor - rural or urban - are often accused of not voting right or selling their votes and therefore are uncritical with their ballots," he said.

"These accusations are not really true because if you engage these communities in conversations, we realize they have a lot to say about this candidate or that candidate," he said.

"They know if this candidate is simply just taking advantage of them."

Voters from the marginalized sector also want to "have good leaders" but are operating on a different mindset based on "their own convictions, the sociologist said.

"We simply accuse them of being ignorant or stupid because they voted for candidates we do not agree with," he said.

Pro-democracy groups and academic institutions should remove impressions that the middle class are "more educated" than the masses when it comes to selecting leaders, Cornelio said.

"It's really those people who people who suffer from the effects of typhoons or disasters who know if their government is really working for or against them," he said.

"We should drop the idea that voter's education is about converting the poor so that they would support our candidates." 


Watch more on iWantTFC