Online campaigning may only influence voters in urban areas, says expert

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2021 04:19 PM

MANILA — Online campaigning for next year's national elections may only work on voters in urban areas, a political sociologist said Sunday.

While election campaign has shifted to cyberspace since 2016, this is not the case for a majority of Filipino voters, said Frederick Rey, who also teaches at the University of Santo Tomas.

Rey noted that internet access is not widely available in rural areas compared to urban areas, which is why campaigning in the provinces may need to take the traditional route.

"Ang rural area naman, sa tingin ko, nakasalalay pa rin sa intimacy... ito 'yong ang kandidato, kinamayan ka. Kapag nahawakan ka niya, nagbabago lahat," Rey said.

(In the rural areas, I think, campaign still relies on intimacy... This is when the candidate shakes your hand. When a candidate makes physical contact, it changes everything.)

This is why candidates should carefully strategize their spending on online campaigning because majority of votes still come from provinces and rural areas, Rey said.

Rey also warned that parties may use technology to intervene with the transmission of votes in the elections.

There is a lot at stake for President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2022 elections, especially after the International Criminal Court decided to investigate his drug war, according to Rey.

"This is not an election for them, this is parang a struggle for survival. That's why nakikita ko there's really a possibility the whole family will appeal to Sara [Duterte-Carpio]," he said, referring to the presidential daughter who is being urged to run for the country's top post.

(This is not an election for them. This is like a struggle for survival. That's why I see that there's really a possibility the whole family will appeal to Sara.)

Duterte-Carpio earlier denied interest in running for president and filed her candidacy for her final term as Davao City mayor.

Substitution, however, will still be allowed until mid-November.

"[The] same situation exists, the same for Bongbong [Marcos], also Imelda has arrest warrants unserved for her," Rey said of the late dictator's son, who filed his COC to run for president last week.

From Oct. 1 to 8, the Commission on Elections received a total of 97 individuals who filed their candidacy for the country's top post for the May 9, 2022 polls. The list will be screened to pick out which ones are serious and which ones are nuisance bets.

Aside from Marcos, the other aspirants include Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa; Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko" Moreno, and former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr..

The final list of candidates may be finalized by December, said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

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