The official campaign period: Does it even matter?

[…] our political practice is more oriented towards coalitions; and the coalitions, too, require time to hammer out a common platform as the basis of uniting to support specific candidates. The broader the coalition, the longer and more complicated the consensus process required to arrive at a platform becomes.

In making the above assertion, the Noted Blogger, Mr. Manuel L. Quezon III, attempts to excuse (1) the continued lack of focus on issues in the National “Debate” leading up to the 2010 Presidential Elections and (2) the embodiment of that intellectual bankruptcy — a lack of published platforms among the most popular candidates of the moment. But in doing so he unwittingly makes an observation that begs an even more fundamental question about Philippine politics:

Why does Philippine “political practice” favour coalitions — ones that need to coalesce out of the woodwork of undifferentiated stand-for-nothing groups, “parties”, and “movements” at every election?

It’s like our politics re-inventing the wheel every six years. In effect, the ideological and philosophical pool is wastefully re-developed from virtually nothing in the months leading up to just about every election. Nothing is carried over from the past — none of its hindsight and therefore none of its learnings. And that assumes that there are ideologies and philosophies that underlie these shape-shifters to begin with.

The real point to be highlighted here, therefore, is the answer to the above question:

The Philippine “political practice” favours coalitions because there is no collective philosophical framework in our society of sufficient substance to encourage the endurance of stable political parties over time.

Coalitions are election winning machines. The point of their existence (at a given moment) is hinged on a specific short-term goal — to win an election. In the corporate setting, coalitions are the equivalent of committees or ad hoc project teams (in contrast with the permanent organisational units like departments and divisions that have long-term significance to the enterprise). Coalitions shift in shape and composition to adapt to the landscape of winnability of the moment. As such, a society whose most noted political “experts” debate on winnability rather than on issues and whose voters vote with their gut instead of their brains is not surprisingly cursed with a political system “oriented towards coalitions”.

So the Noted Blogger continues…

[…] you cannot have a platform if you are a leader without followers and the association of leaders and followers is the party or coalition; and that coalition or party has to coalesce before it can unveil its platform.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? That is, if one imprisons their thinking within the context of what makes sense in the sort of “democracy” a backward society like the Philippines practices.


Quezon also implies in that blog post that the onus is on those voters who want to carefully evaluate their options to trawl through piles of disparate transcripts of public statements made by candidates in interviews and debates over time and piece them together to form a picture that they can use to make their evaluations. He embeds several Scribd documents to serve as examples of sites that could be mined for nuggets of information to add to one’s progressively crystallising personal picture of what a candidate stands for — or so the theory goes.

Excuse me, but I beg to differ. It should be the other way around.

Why don’t the voters do themselves a favour and demand that the politicians do that job for them? Rather than politicians dish out disjoint sound bites piecemeal and expect the voters to collate useful information from them, why don’t these politicians step up and collate a comprehensive document articulating in a coherent and structured manner the positions they take across relevant matters and present that to their constituents? In such a way, the process is reversed. Voters would take that document and use it as a BASELINE for assessing whether the chatter dished out by politicians during their campaign is consistent with it.

As a person aspiring to lead a people, a presidential candidate should put the structure out FIRST and then use it to frame and guide the chatter in his subsequent campaign. We as voters need to STEP UP and DEMAND that our politicians do it this way. Why should voters be the ones scrounging around for pieces of the puzzle and connecting the dots? The onus should be on politicians to come up with a written and published document of connected dots.

Elections are about the future. So therefore candidates should take a prospective regard for his candidacy instead of a retrospective one — which means running on a real platform that describes what he envisions will happen over his term.

So much for being an apologist for what is but a mere symptom of the underlying disease — our society’s intellectual bankruptcy. in bringing to light this underlying disease, consider now if the coming of the start of the “official campaign period” even matters.


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29 Responses to The official campaign period: Does it even matter?

  1. BenK says:

    I don’t know why everyone insists on referring to this guy as “The Noted Blogger”, because it seems every time he’s being “noted”, it’s for something stupid. His ignorance is breath-taking: he’s telling us that a leader can’t present a platform until he finds followers to develop one — how, does he suppose, will anyone convince anybody to become followers, if not by presenting a plan and set of ideas, i.e. a platform, to convince them of his qualification to lead?

    Oh, right. I forgot that in the “noted” one’s world, democracy is faith-based.

    • GabbyD says:

      i guess consensus building holds no value to you.

      • BenK says:

        Consensus-building has to start with something. You can’t just pick someone at random and say “let’s build a consensus around this guy” — there has to be some practical reason for doing so.

        The problem here is that mlq3 and the other Aquino supporters are being completely dishonest with themselves and the voters they are trying to convince by hiding behind the “campaign period” law. The obvious truth is that Aquino has no platform or idea of what he wants to do as president — beyond some vague, meaningless notions of “stop corruption”, “transparency”, “integrity” (“be an integer”?) — and really does need to have the input of his party to form one. Obviously, it would make the Yellow Peril look pretty bad if his flacks were to explain the situation in plain terms, so they say, “Oh, but it’s not the campaign period yet”.

        The situation with Aquino only says two things: one, he will fail as president, because he had no concrete vision (I said CONCRETE, not head-in-the-clouds) of what he would want to achieve in that job — he is not motivated by his goals, but will rather be attempting to implement the goals which have been entirely developed by other people. That makes him a tool. Two, it reveals the Liberal Party as being non-representative of any political or social point of view other than “winnability” — pick a candidate first based on his brand, and then figure out later what he should do. It’s not at all different than the Jolog Queen’s notion of “win first, then plan”. And worse, they made a conscious decision to turn away from substance to emotional appeal.

      • GabbyD says:

        how do you know he doesnt have a ‘concrete’ vision?

        what does that mean, anyways? why is stopping corruption, etc… a meaningless notion?

        i agree with mlq3’s response — these are visions for the country, vision of what he sees himself doing. the specific plans should come later, during the campaign period.

      • BongV says:

        The statement “stopping corruption” on its own is a motherhood statement. Everyone agrees and wants to stop corruption.

        The devil is the details – how exactly will corruption be stopped. The Noynoy camp has issued a “work-in-progress” platform – thus, what may be true today, may no longer be true tomorrow. Clearly the Noynoy campaign team is pushing hard to make Noynoy one size fits all “silver bullet. His platform may show that he agrees on one issue today, and may disagree with the same issue tomorrow.

         moreover, in presenting an anti-corruption stance, the oligarchy is using a campaign theme na bumenta na sa takilya – and as it is wont to do with the soap operas shown in oligarch-owned media – recycles such theme. in trumpetting the “anti-corruption” line, the oligarchy aims to sweep the issue of the oligarchs dominance of the economy, that corruption is an expected outcome of an oligarch-dominated economy. By its inherently protectionist nature, the availability of opportunities are limited – and to access such limited opportunities, corruption is the main mode resorted to.

        Noynoy’s anti-corruption line is like a plan that sounds good because it constructs sewage canals and upgrades the sewage system – but constructs it in a highly flood prone area – so that no matter the infrastructure investment (cost overruns being the norm), the location will always be flooded. The better more cost-effective systemic solution would have been to relocate the community to safer ground and construct accordingly.

        As a society we have placed as many safeguards as we have – PCGG, Ombudsman, Tanodbayan. But, these same agencies have yet to deliver substantial results. As long as the oligarchs control the national purse, corruption will continue and will overhwlem whatever “anti-corruption systems” put in place. Who exactly will police the police?

        Thus, a systems view would be more appropriate. Remove the conditions which create corruption; break up oligarch domination of the economy thereby creating conditions conducive to wider prosperity thereby lessening the pressure to take shortcuts and resort to corruption.

      • BenK says:

        If he had one, even if he hadn’t fully disclosed it yet, he would be able to answer questions relating to it, rather than stumbling over them and having Mar bail him out and speak for him. Refer to his performances in the couple Q & A sessions he’s participated in.

      • benign0 says:

        That’s right. Win first, plan later.

        mlq3 continues to miss the point as evident in what he says in his Sun, 15th Nov 2009 11:25 am comment:

        now if a candidate has had years to get a campaign in gear then by all means a platform sooner than later; but if a candidate is new into the race, the process will take longer. that’s all.

        Again, being “new to the race” in a presidential election and not having a platform simply means that candidate does not have the vision and character befitting a president that predates his intention to run for president. It’s like the difference between marrying for love and marrying for money. A person who enters a marriage because of love, has love that predates said marriage. On the other hand, a person who marries for money may eventually fall in love with his/her spouse of convenience. Which of the two is ideal? In the earlier case, a key ingredient in the marriage was already in place. In the latter, it had to be induced.

        So in the case of Noynoy. He is not president material by nature. But given that it seems that he will go on to become president anyway (such is our society) then he needs to STEP UP. And voters have the power to induce that stepping up.

      • GabbyD says:

        i agree with MLQ3’s rejoinder, which you should see: platform is the political implication of one’s vision. clearly, if someone runs, one has this vision in hand.

      • benign0 says:

        clearly, if someone runs, one has this vision in hand.

        What makes you so sure of that, GabbyD? Erap ran for the presidency once. Do you think he had a “vision in hand”? What about FPJ? Do you think he had a “vision in hand” when he ran for president?

      • GabbyD says:

        of course he/they did. doesnt mean the execution or the specific plans work.

        why run, if you dont have the passion and vision for your country?

    • Conyo says:


      Hey you just stop right there!

      Idol ko si Manolo kaya huwag mo siyang siraan ha? Kung hindi ka mag-ingat, isasama kita sa persona non grata listahan ng Black and White Movement.

      Remember, everything is Black and White. That means either we are right or you are wrong. You are with us or you are against us. You are gay or you are straight. You are a Christian or you are going to hell. You drink Starbucks or you are Jologs. Ang galing ano? Life is way easier in Black and White.

      See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • BenK says:

        I’d wear that as a badge of honor.

      • lester2k1 says:

        Your statement, Mr/Ms. Conyo, behoves the sorry fact that we can’t have good intellectual discourse in this nation. Saying one is against you because another is not for you is a dichotomy imposed as an ad baculum. No wonder the REAL intellectual elites distrust the Black and White movement.

      • Conyo says:

        REAL intellectual elites who distrust the Black and White movement and NOT REAL intellectual elites.

        Remember, by the rules of logic of the Black and White movement.

        1. Black and White Movement = Intellectual Elites
        2. Everything is Black or White
        3. If you are not part of the movement then you are not an intellectual elite.

        Ang galing ano? So you want to be an intellectual elite? Then join the Black and White Movement. Its the only way dude.

        See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • isn’t the black and white movement the same group that took in rodolf jun lozada, a self-confessed grafter? so much for black and white. this is more like a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” what’s up with that anyway?

      • benign0 says:

        Yeah, it’s one of those ‘you’re either with us or against us’ “movement” that premises its entire existence on categorising people into pro and anti Arroyos. A real classy bunch.

      • Conyo says:

        What’s up with that?

        What part about seeing the world in Black and White do you not understand? Only two choices dude. Up or Down. Left or Right. Jesus or Hell. MacOS or dumbass. Are we clear?

        See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • BongV says:

        The original Starbucks crowd were “in”.

        The new Starbucks crowd including the Queen Bee are poseurs.

        Validated by the latest Starbucks customer studies:

        The Changing Customer

        The market research team also discovered that Starbucks’ customer base was evolving. Starbucks’
        newer customers tended to be younger, less well-educated, and in a lower income bracket than
        Starbucks’ more established customers. 😀

        They thought they were “in” – just like the Emperor thinking his new clothes are hip.

      • Conyo says:


        We have special techniques of isolating poseurs.

        1. First, when we meet at Starbucks, we wear black 🙂

        2. We drink our coffee BLACK–no cream or sugar!

        3. We are always the most fashion-forward males around.

        Any questions?

        See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • BenK says:

        Your wit escapes me, DJB. We have special techniques of isolating poseurs, too. It’s called stay the hell away from anyone who wears their groupthink like a uniform, lest we become infected by it.

        I consider the shallow irrelevance of the Black & White movement their most important contribution to the national debate; it serves to advertise that they can be dismissed out-of-hand, so we adults can discuss matters of greater substance.

  2. GabbyD says:

    “Quezon also implies in that blog post that the onus is on those voters who want to carefully evaluate their options to trawl through piles of disparate transcripts of public statements…”

    how does he imply that? he shares the files, but nowhere does he say that the onus (whole responsibility) lies on voters…

    in fact, in the paragraph IMMEDIATELY PRECEEDING THE FILES he writes:

    “They also have to start speaking out on issues and proposing themes in the hope they’re attractive to the electorate. ”

    which si the OPPOSITE implication.

    • Conyo says:

      If you wanna be part of the Starbucks Black and White “in crowd” you gotta agree with the Queen Bee dude. So just nod you head, order a mocha frap and luxuriate among the “in crowd.” You might even get invited to all the fashionable parties and events — a super ego boost. And for the truly loyal subjects, what can be better than a quest spot at everyone’s favorite and most informative TV program!!!

      See you at Starbucks 🙂

    • benign0 says:

      As a matter of face, mlq3 makes another statement that re-iterates what he implies above:

      on the other hand there is a wealth of information out there if you really want it. all the more important because it will matter how the candidate today, compares with what the candidate stood for yesterday. ideally there should be a logical progession in the views expressed and positions taken.

      Sure. It’s out there. Go and get it.

      I don’t think so.

      • GabbyD says:

        hahaha. oh, B0, you’re definitely taking things out of context. he doesnt imply that its the voters as individuals who have the sole responsibility of getting all this info.

        however “IF YOU REALLY WANT IT”, there are these documents that provide some of this info.

        “Sure. It’s out there. Go and get it.” IS NOT the interpretation… i’m shocked that your powers of interpretation are so colored by this meme you have.

      • BenK says:

        “there is a wealth of information out there if you really want it” seems pretty clear to me.

      • yotowdaleedens says:

        Gabby D. you’re kinda dense, aren’t ya?

      • GabbyD says:

        the key phrase here is IF you want it…

        that is, IF you want it now, you can actually get it…

        it does NOT mean that voters have SOLE RESPONSIBILITY for getting the info….

  3. Enteng Romano says:

    I love you, I love you, I love you Conyo!

  4. GabbyD says:

    “Quezon also implies in that blog post that the onus is on those voters who want to carefully evaluate their options to trawl through piles of disparate transcripts of public statements…”how does he imply that? he shares the files, but nowhere does he say that the onus (whole responsibility) lies on voters… in fact, in the paragraph IMMEDIATELY PRECEEDING THE FILES he writes:”They also have to start speaking out on issues and proposing themes in the hope they’re attractive to the electorate. “which si the OPPOSITE implication.

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