I think it’s time the Comelec faced the facts.
Candidates will not be dissuaded from putting up their posters wherever they damn well please, there will never be enough outraged people to outweigh the voting power of those who don’t care, and the common poster area rule is perhaps one of the most ridiculously unenforceable rules in the entire history of unenforceable rules.
And orbiting this nucleus of hard facts, are a number of satellite postulates that can’t be ignored either: no matter how fairly the Comelec treats candidates and party-list organizations, those candidates and party-list organizations with the ability to mobilize media coverage will always be able to portray the Comelec as biased; the leveling effect of the common poster area is illusory at best; and – apart from the common poster area rule itself being intrinsically unenforceable – the Comelec’s own field personnel are either incapable or unwilling or too poorly motivated to even mount the good ole college try at tilting at windmills.
This isn’t to say that the idea behind the common poster area rule is trash. On the contrary, the concept that candidates should be restricted in this way is a good one because, if nothing else, the opposite means that candidates will most likely plaster anything and everything with campaign propaganda that they are not responsible enough to clean up afterwards; and because the practice of proliferate postering only reinforces the notion that it takes money, not character, to win in elections.
These laudable considerations aside, however, the fact remains that the mechanism for achieving those ends are pitifully laughable, exposing the Comelec to ridicule and accomplishing little beyond chipping away at what little credibility the poll body still has.
Hopefully, the Comelec’s bright boys and girls will soon realize that, perhaps, the Fair Elections Act is approaching the problem wrongly.
Obviously conceived as a means of making the elections more sober, for lack of a better word, using the boring American campaigns as a model, the Fair Elections Act ignores the fact that we Filipinos do elections differently. For us, this isn’t a process imbued with quiet dignity and somber gravity. It’s a fiesta – a festive occasion ultimately not far removed from basketball. And there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with that if you were to accept that as it is and not compare with your idea of what elections should be, i.e., the way the Americans do it.
Take phone banking for instance. The Americans use rows and rows of telephones to actually call people on election day urging them to vote. Both the Republicans and the Democrats do it. They also send out vehicles to pick people up from their homes and take them to the polling places. Here at home, we call that hakot.
So, if some aspects of the way Americans run elections are undesirable to us, why should a boring campaign be more acceptable? It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Sure, you can smash it into place but it’ll be a terrible fit.
Better by far to simply embrace the cultural realities in which the election campaigns are embedded and then institute process controls. Kinda like how they stopped men pissing on the floors of Schipol airport toilets. It’s a case of since you can’t beat it, work with it.
Okay. At this point, you’re prolly waiting for some idea I can propose. Well, I don’t have anything at the moment. But, hey! That isn’t my job, is it? LOL
Seriously tho, I do have something, although I can’t guarantee lawfulness at this point. I was thinking that maybe, the Comelec can work something out with the DILG so that no winner can assume office without first organizing and carrying out a clean up operation, post-elections. While there is scant legal bases for this kind of move, there is a chance that it will appeal to the Filipino’s sense bayanihan *cringe* which, at the moment of victory, will be tripping high on euphoria.
I know it’s lame, alright? But you get the idea, right? Hopefully, the Comelec’s bright boys and girls do too.
If you have an idea on how illegal postering can be controlled in the absence of a common poster area rule, why not share it in the comments below?
Or don’t. LOL