Unprecedented popularity PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 14:16

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

Unlike in other democracies, popularity is the main factor to win in an election here in the Philippines. Political machinery, marching soldiers (campaigners), and money may be the factors a politician must have even before deciding to cast his hat in the political ring, but popularity or name recall is more important. It is the end-all and be-all. It is usually and commonly determined and measured through public surveys. Even companies before introducing a new product in the market would conduct surveys to determine customers’ preferences, ranges, and diversities in order to come out with an intelligent decision.

Here, polling entities, like the Pulse Asia and SWS, regularly conduct polls or surveys on the popularity of elected public officials but rarely devote time to ask or inquire the public at-large regarding their comments on the officials’ plans and program of government. This is simply because Filipinos are more focused and concerned on their popularity. Even when placed on a broader scale, Filipinos still consider popularity of elected officials more important than the impact and consequences of their policies and programs.

No wonder we have senators and congressmen who talk non-sense and have done nothing to justify their election to their positions. We have mayors, vice-mayors and councilors who are only good at grand standing, doing nothing significant that would redound to the benefit of their constituents. But despite all these, they believe that to remain popular is more important.

There are, however, countless politicians who are now consigned to the dustbin of political history because despite being popular, they have not performed and achieved what they have promised to the electorate during their political campaigns. Thus, popularity now cannot simply withstand close public scrutiny if not buttress by performance.

This is now being shown by the unprecedented popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte, who after more than two years of his administration, remains popular with a “56+ very good” acceptance and approval. Incessant negative comments, fake news, and dirty propaganda have failed to damage and destroy him and his administration. Puzzled opposition congressman Edcel Lagman noted that “despite the failure of Duterte to deliver most of his campaign promises, his irreverence towards the Catholic Church and the CHR, unpatriotic surrender to China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, his political equivocations and his human rights record of violations, he still enjoys very high popularity rating across classes in his second year in office.”

Indeed, President Duterte has strayed and broke away from established norms of governance and defied norms and standards. His rant against the Catholic Church that exercises religious, moral, and political ascendancy over the majority of the Filipino people and calling their God stupid, exposing the darks secrets of the Church and the evil and immoral acts committed by sexually perverted priests is doubly perilous and risky. He is the only and first elected President who crossed swords with the Church and still managed to stay in office.

The reason is because the people don’t anymore believe in the black propaganda and extremely negative comments by the Opposition against President Duterte and his administration. But most crucial is his performance, which he outlined and promised to do and accomplish during his campaign—eliminate and bring to a halt the sale and proliferation of drugs, curving criminality, putting a stop to graft and corruption and the implementation of his Build, Build, Build Infra Program that will eventually improve the economy of our country. The people have seen, after more than two years of his administration, the results of the programs and how he accomplished them. The people, who were already fed up with the grand standing and palliatives of the previous administration and their effects to good governance and society, have seen the positive results of his administration which are totally a big difference before and after he was elected President.

The Catholic Church, the communist CPP-NPA, the Opposition—Yellow Army, the Progressive Blocs in Congress, the drug lords, smugglers and grafters are conspiring to unseat him but up to now have not succeeded. Surveys after surveys will be conducted but it will not diminish his popularity and acceptance because of one very important factor—his accomplishments.