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Commentary: Election and selection

By Bong Pedalino

Maasin, Southern Leyte (April 25) -- Barely three weeks before the Filipino people cast their sovereign will through the ballot, the latest SWS survey results were all over town once again, with a matching screaming banner headline in one of the country's leading daily broadsheets.

In the next couple of days somebody may take issue at how the polling group has come up with such a conclusion, spiced with "juicy" behind-the-scenes revelations.

Indeed, how can a nationwide sample of 1,200 respondents compare with even 50% of the current registered voters, or roughly 20 million electors from Aparri up north, to Zulu down south.


The worry of it all is in the matter of mind conditioning at worst, and bandwagon mentality at best.

By now, the people have been led to believe, courtesy of survey after survey, that at most only four Team Unity or administration bets can make it to the "Magic 12," while the rest goes to Genuine Opposition candidates, give or take one or two independent senatorial hopefuls.

Thus, even if the actual results in a generally honest, peaceful, fair and square game would show a contrary picture (that is, only 4 GO made it, the rest TU, give or take 1 or 2 independents), the opposition would immediately cry foul, denounce massive cheating, "dag-dag bawas", and other poll irregularities, mostly imagined.


So before the next survey come flashing around like the taunting "Wolf, Wolf" bogus shout in Aesop's Fable, it must be recognized that traditionally, Philippine election is preceded by a tedious process of selection.

And with national candidates mixing it up with local politics, the selection task can become a messy burden, let alone very time-consuming, on the part of the uninitiated.

The tendency is that the common voter may just follow a pre-selected sample ballot for senators handed to him/her on voting day, while he/she takes serious time considering whom to select and elect in the local scene.


All told, at the local level, the reality is that both administration candidates are fighting it out tooth and nail, but at the same time campaign for TU candidates in their local sorties.

And who are campaigning for GO bets? Practically no one, except in known opposition bailiwiks, which is just a small percentage overall.

Now it's easier to understand why surveys are hot and in demand nowadays: These polls attempt to provide a shortcut on the selection process and offer a quick shortlist on who are perceived winnables in a nationwide election contest.

What a sad commentary in expressing the nation's sovereign will.


LOCAL FRONT: Despite the ongoing heated political campaign, where barkers, jingles of many candidates dominate the air, a whiff of fresh insight took place in Maasin last Monday, April 23. On that day, the hollow-block fence of Maasin Central School fronting the scenic Espina Boulevard by the sea became the venue for a mural painting contest involving kids initiated by the city government in partnership with private groups and NGOs. And yes, you guessed it, the theme of the painting skills contest revolves around global warming and its accompanying environment threats. Organizers said they timed it in celebration of Earth Day on April 22, although they had it a day later. May the picture-messages portrayed in the walls become "writings on the wall" for all.

ODDLY YOURS: Many soap commercials on TV appear overly protective on kids, urging them -- and parents as well -- to have maximum defense against germs. The reverse, however, is often true and more effective: exposure to some microbes and bacteria make people, children especially, healthier. "Encountering viruses early primes the immune system, making it easier to fend off germs," says Thomas Ball, University of Arizona pediatrician, in a 2002 report. How do germs help? One theory suggests that the body's natural armors develop normally only when they have invaders to respond to. Without such challenge, the immune system attacks healthy tissue, causing allergies. Of course, there's no substitute for proper hygiene. (PIA Southern Leyte) [top]

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