December 4, 2022

In raffle draws, “the more entries, the more chances of winning.”
As election day draws near, local candidates are desperately persuading people to choose them. We see candidates attending meetings, sponsoring events, and engaging with religious groups, among other activities.
Candidates really target the adults for their political propaganda as they perceive they will convince younger relatives to vote for them. With this, endorsement comes along and not just within the family but also in religious and other organizations.
Former Benguet representative Ronald Cosalan emphasized in a session of voter’s education program of Pansigedan Advocacy Cooperative that Benguet clans for the past decades have became more active in politics in which clan leaders may dictate who the family would vote for. As a result, members can’t do anything but to follow the endorsement from their leaders. Moreover, the most valid reason is because of how we value dayaw to maintain clan’s honor together with the economic and social security that the clan may benefit once the endorsed candidate won.
Andrew Carantes, a Humanities professor at the Philippine Military Academy, said clan leaders choose those who can protect their ethnolinguistic groups, properties, and resources.
A study conducted by the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in 2003 showed four factors that affect voters’ behavior during election. First is “benefit factor,” where voters think of the benefit they may acquire if the candidate wins.
Second, the political machinery, including the contributions of the candidate to their community.
Third is popularity. It is often said that before getting to politics, a celebrity is assured of victory. Lastly, the endorsement of traditional network and organization has a big role in the victory of a candidate.
Bloc voting is not new in the country. Marcos Mangallay, a Social Science professor, said in the voter’s education session that bloc voting is relevantly notable on religious organizations where candidates court these groups for a reason of getting a higher chance of engagement with many individuals and assuring a victory for them.
However, Maria Ela Atienza, a professor of the University of the Philippines Diliman, emphasized as religious endorsement may be rampant, “more discerning voters would also link the perceived values and characters of endorsers with those of the candidates they are endorsing.” With this, some voters still assess the candidate being endorsed by their religious leader.
A member of Iglesia ni Cristo added during the program that before their leader endorses candidates, leaders will ask or conduct a survey to listen to their members whom they prefer. After that the candidate that the majority prefer will be the one chosen to be endorsed by the group leaving the minority disregarded.
For first-time voters, the endorsement of elders can be a pressure, but it is important to uphold that we should vote for the one whose agenda is to serve public interest. These should not become a norm or a practice in every election.
Righteous voters should disregard endorsements and bloc voting as basis of who will take charge on certain position since it is an individual’s right and practice which means it should be treated valuable. (EZRA JAMES O. FELIX)