May 16, 2019
AMID the looming shut-out of the Otso Diretso senatorial slate of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), its supporters vented online their dismay over the May 13 elections.
From anger and depression to determination and even humor, the Otso faithful showed true belief in their cause of blocking what they see as the pernicious agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte. No matter that the great majority of Filipinos don’t share their views.
Among the more widely shared posts is “An Open Letter to the Otso Diretso Candidates” by one Ed Garcia, identified as “Lolo Volunteer for 8D (Otso) who will never give up!” He thanked the LP team for their hard work and dedication in offering “our people an alternative, a choice of conscience.”
After extolling the talents and virtues he saw in Otso’s candidates, Garcia lamented the failings for which administration critics have hit the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) lineup. Of these winning would-be senators, the elderly campaign volunteer said: “This is not who the Filipinos truly are.”
Decrying and defending ‘bobotantes’
In a number of posts by Otso supporters, there is a common dismay over what some called uneducated or even dumb voters who backed HnP. A week before elections, a message attributed to one Rene Bustamante of Bacolod huffed about Duterte cheerers: “Only people with low-level IQ and without personal principles will continue to support this rogue president.”
Another missive the day after elections, while seeming to criticize his Otso colleagues, still put down pro-HnP voters: “The outcome of this year’s elections is not merely the fault of the uneducated majority. It is also the fault of the educated minority who constantly and continuously take pride in believing that they know better, and that they, with their heightened sense of enlightenment and entitlement, can drastically change the plight of this country.”
One Steph Ayson also decried the failure of educated voters to pick the right candidates. Writing in Filipino, he explained: “I cannot blame uneducated voters who never got correct information, voter with no rightful basis for what kind of government and leader would be desirable. I am more angry at the learned who still picked candidates wallowing in corruption cases, lacking knowledge or experience in the role they have to play, or crooked in their principles.”
Also shared in social media was a meme quoting (or misquoting) Lee Kuan Yew. The late Singapore strongman purportedly said: “The Philippine version of democracy as of late is best called a government of stupid people, for stupid people, and of stupid people. The result is you get a government that buys the people, poor the people, and off the people, because whoever is voted, no matter how stupid he or she is, that person gets the seat in power.”
Another meme cited a January 2004 Supreme Court ruling; it affirmed that democracy is rule of the majority. But the SC cautioned: “The majority can rule and rule effectively only if its judgment is an informed one. … Rule by the ignorant majority is a sham democracy — a mobocracy—for in the words of [American founding father Thomas] Jefferson, a nation cannot be both free and ignorant. If there is anything a democracy cannot survive, it is the virus of ignorance” (Tolentino v. Comelec, GR 148334).
Of course, the Duterte camp didn’t take all this dumbing down sitting down. One Janir Ty Datukan fumed about the ‘bobotante’ label, which combines ‘bobo’ or dumb in
Filipino, and ‘botante’ or voter. “I think I’ve had enough,” she posted. “Bobotante?’ Really? How intelligent you are to call dumb those people who do not have the same
views as yours. So, you’re the better person because you’re intelligent? Hurray!”
Datukan added: “I strive to teach my students that there are always two sides to a coin. Know both before making judgments. Opinions matter, of course, but if your opinion is disrespectful or derogatory toward others, be warned: You cannot take those words back. Not in this age of social media. If you still insist on insulting people who share different views from you, that is your choice. That is your freedom. That is your responsibility. That is your accountability.”
D for disgruntled and desperate?
A couple of this writer’s former batchmates, one from Ateneo High School, the other from San Beda Grade School, opined that the masses, especially the income Class D making up 78 percent of the population, are driven by desperation and anger to support Duterte’s tough rule.
Posted Ward Luarca, our student council president in high school: “Duterte is the personification of that pent-up resentment by the masa (masses) for all established middle-class norms and values (often referred to as “dilawan”). Which is why the ‘putang-ina’ (whore mother), the middle-finger ‘ngatngat,’ and “kanto boy” (street thug) politically incorrect, salacious anecdotes and jargon are enthusiastically lapped up.”
Alex Ibarra, our San Beda Grade School salutatorian, believed: “Class D are victims of their situation. Sadly, our dynastic politicians want them to stay that way…They want change so badly, even just a small improvement in their lives, that they were willing to try a Duterte. And they still believe that Duterte is delivering on his promises to them rightly or wrongly; that’s why Duterte is still very popular (80 percent approval rating). And that’s why Otso Diretso was routed in the polls.”
Amid this searing, silver-tongued post-election anguish came a bit of tongue-in-cheek psychoanalysis:
“Which state of grief are you at? Stage 1: Denial – Posting about alleged electoral irregularities (why the transparency server is down and why 400 VCMs were broken).
Stage 2: Anger – Lashing out against the “stupid, uneducated voters.” Stage 3: Bargaining – Join the various pages praying for JV [Ejercito] to win over Bong Revilla. Stage 4: Depression – Search “how to migrate to Canada.”
“At some point you will reach Stage 5: Acceptance and focus on other, more important things … like how stupid ‘Game of Thrones’ has become.”
In our game of electoral thrones, even laughter hurts.
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