Gaming the People


This week saw throngs of politicians converging at the COMELEC designated sites to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) as they aspire for the various elective positions up for grabs. They have more or less six months beginning this November 2021 up to the last week of April 2022 to convince voters they are who they proclaim themselves to be, needless to say with sweet promises and guarantees.

In the lower levels of the election ladder particularly in the congressional down to the positions for councilpersons the candidates who have already filed their COCs are the ones whom generally the public have already deemed as having the potential to serve as elected public servants.

This of course translates into an almost orderly and benign process of local political parties selecting their champions and sending them to become candidates during the next election.

But in the topmost level of the election ladder where potential candidates for the position of president are being sorted out by political parties we arrive at the realm of the weird.

Weird in the sense that even at the closing hours for the filing of candidacies we find political parties such as the Cusi led PDPLaban faction hurrying to introduce their presidential candidate, in the person of Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa. They already have their vice presidential candidate which is Senator Bong Go but the delay in their choosing of their presidential candidate makes the case similar to a spurned suitor.

In this instance it would seem as if the PDPLaban Cusifaction was stood up by Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte who already filed her candidacy
for re-election as mayor.

But then again in an absurd way choosing Senator Dela Rosa, who even if he loses in the presidential election can go back to being a Senator  with their vice presidentiable Bong Go, is like gaming the system by using the electoral process in biding their time until the candidate that they want, Sarah, can be substituted for Dela Rosa.

The COMELEC rules of course allows substitution. In Comelec Resolution No. 10717 issued this August 2021 it says that “an aspirant who is a member of a political party may withdraw his or her COC, and be substituted by another member of the same party until Nov. 15”. So the possibility for a last-minute replacement of Senator ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa by Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte is clearly in the offing.

This actually happened during the time when President Rodrigo Duterte was seemingly hesitant to run for the highest position in the land but was later on made a presidential candidate by virtue of substitution. So there is a precedent which is now being adopted again by the same political party of the sitting president.

There is no limit to gaming the system as long as you can get away with it but in trying to game the people the second time around and succeeding with the ploy is sure to reveal the sheep mentality of the masses and the still seeming propensity of the voters to be naïve and gullible when choosing their leaders.