[Opinion Part One] Machine, Message, And The 2022 Elections

President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Former Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Senator Ping Lacson, Vice President Leni Robredo | IMG SOURCE: CNN Philippines

In our last article, we looked at how Serge Osmeña III- a former Senator and veteran campaign manager- markets a candidate. According to him, there are three steps in marketing a candidate: awareness, endearment, and acceptance. 

We also noted that Sen. Serge’s differentiation between endearment and acceptance loosely aligns with DLSU Professor Julio Teehankee’s distinction between image and issues. Image refers to the “general characteristics” of the candidate, and issues are his or her specific positions on certain policies. 

According to Prof. Teehankee, the votes which can be attracted via image and issues are “market votes”. These are votes that have to be identified, targeted and attracted from various segments of the electorate. This is in distinction to “command votes” which are blocs of votes that are gathered and delivered through traditional networks. 

There are two main types of command votes: bailiwick and machinery. On one hand, the bailiwick, known locally as balwarte, refers to the candidate’s ethno-linguistic attachments. On the other hand, machinery refers to a candidate’s organization. This comes in three flavors: money, which is the distribution of cash and non-cash benefits; party, or the candidate’s network of political leaders; and government, which refers to the use of public programs, services, and resources. 

Image and issues have become central to political campaigns with the rise of mass media. They were particularly crucial to three post-EDSA elections: which Erap Estrada won because of his “masa” image; and 2010, which Noynoy Aquino won due to his integrity and anti-corruption image. And 2016, which Rodrigo Duterte won based on a three-factor campaign: regionalism (among Mindanao and Bisaya voters), law and order, and “masa” appeal.  

However, Teehankee notes that machinery still matters, especially in close elections. In 1992, Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s image and issue-based campaign could not secure a big enough lead over rival Fidel Ramos. In 2004, Fernando Poe Jr’s populist wave was overcome by GMA’s superior machinery in Visayas and Mindanao, which included ballot manipulation in the form of the “Hello Garci” scandal. 

These factors- image, issues, bailiwicks, and machinery- will determine the electoral race this 2022. And these will be the factors with which we will discuss the candidates and their possible strategies in this year’s campaign season.

Words By: Luc Dioneda

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