November 30, 2022

MAINTAINING CIVILITY IN THE AGE OF ‘TROLLING’

The local campaign period for those seeking for the various elective positions begins on March 25. But even before the formal start of the campaign period, almost all candidates vying for the various executive and legislative positions have already started reaching out to voters either through social media platforms or in-person engagements.
Compared to positions in the national government, the contest for local elective posts takes on a more personal side as those seeking to be elected or reelected and the electorate move in the same sphere.
As most candidates belong to one community, some even sharing the same blood line, local elections are expectedly more emotionally-charged. In some areas in the Philippines, some have lost their lives because of the violence that comes with political rivalries.
Notwithstanding the numerous cases of election-related violence in Abra province in past elections, the Cordillera remains to be one of the most peaceful regions during political exercises such as the election.
But this does not mean that Cordilleran voters are in a better position than the others even when there is no bloodshed involved towards the May 2022 elections.
Mudslinging, which has expanded into the electronic or digital sphere through trolling on social media is, sadly, a constant in the region, and elsewhere in the country.
Some may argue that throwing dirt against political opponents is embedded in our political culture and it is to a degree, “better” than bloodshed.
We digress from this line of reasoning. In our region where the teachings of our elders are considered the law, it is unthinkable that their words of wisdom are relegated to the backburner.
We admit that it is hard to remain circumspect especially when dealing with issues that could either be true, half true, hyped, or false but maintaining a professional stance even amidst falsehoods spreading on the ground and in the virtual world is what separates a statesman from a traditional politician, or popularly known as trapo.
It could also be challenging to respond to entities when we are not aware if these are real or are bots, but a good campaign strategistworth their salt can employ several strategies to boost the popularity of a politician without resorting to dirty tactics.
Amidst the influences from the outside world, we commend fellow Cordillerans for their high respects to the cultural and religious value of “inayan”,which is considered by the Christians in this highland region as synonymous to the Golden Rule, which tells people to “Do unto others what you like others do unto you.”
For decades now, the high respect for the value of inayan greatly contributed in keeping the provinces, towns and villages in the Cordillera safe from lawlessness and harm including during election period.
The Philippine political landscape may be changing but for a region that prides itself for being one of the safest places during election period, one virtue that should remain constant for both politicians and their supporters is being civil despite differences on choices, beliefs, and opinions.