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Rough Cuts: Winning in the local elections

The official start of the campaign period for candidates in local government positions is still on March 29. Roughly, that is three weeks away. But in Davao City the hanging and putting up of posters and other campaign paraphernalia have already been done months back. The aspirants concerned just skirted the law banning such act by not including in the posters and tarpaulins the words soliciting the electorate to vote for them.

In the third district we have seen some council aspirants’ — both re-electionists and new faces — billboards and oversized tarpaulin posters with messages greeting villagers on various occasions, including that for the New Year that had already passed by three months since. Other candidates have their pictures “sandwiched” between, or on the side of the pictures of either Mayor Sara or former Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte. The gritty and assuming among aspirants even have with them in their campaign billboard or poster pictures that of the President insinuating the latter’s tacit endorsement.

In Davao City’s first district we have seen the proliferation of tarpaulins bearing the name of candidates described as “helpful,” “trustworthy,” and “still is.”

We have not gone to any of the villages in the second district since late last year. So we did not have the opportunity to find out if similar style of early campaigning is prevalent in the area. But knowing that most candidates are aligning with the administration it would be surprising if no such campaign billboards, tarpaulin posters, and the like do not exist in the city’s second district.

And talking of almost all local candidates identifying to be part of the ruling Hugpong sa Pagbabago of Mayor Sara, or the Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod of the mayor’s father President Rodrigo Duterte, we have already figured out how they will conduct their campaign sorties. It will be pretty much similar to the way campaigning of senatorial candidates allied with, or known part of the administration coalition, is being done. That is, they stomp in certain areas in full force as endorsees of Mayor Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago, or that of President Duterte’s and PDP/Laban’s and allowing “friendlier” Senate bets to join and speak in the rallies.

The candidates also break themselves into smaller numbers and campaign together in this and that places allowing faster mobility and saving on cost.

This methodology in campaigning, we are certain, will be adopted by Davao City’s local candidates. But we see this scheme as advantageous to the more financially-prepared bets as they themselves will be gravitating toward each other.

In other words, the likelihood is that candidates for councilors with more money will be grouping themselves in their sorties as they can afford to share equally the expenses that will be incurred. Those bets with minimal resources are also likely to join hands in order to make their campaign activities in the villages both in the urban and rural areas, more cost effective and still able to generate wider audiences. Chances though, is that the latter’s groupings may not be as “convincing” as the former’s  as historically, many voters still have “expectations” from the candidates other than the usual speeches and promises.

One astute candidate from the third district knew of this other “expectations.” So in the past election where the candidate won handily, the bet opted to come in late and spoke last during campaign meetings in rural barangays. When all the other aspirants were gone for their next stop, the shrewd council bet motioned an L-300 vehicle standing by. Right at the abandoned rally sites the candidate’s men unloaded gallons of local wine called “bahalina.” The candidate then called every male still around and asked for their acknowledged leader. The candidate forked some bills and handed it to whoever is identified by the crowd so they could buy some “pulotans.”

After shaking hands with the remaining crowd the candidate left. The bet later became the talk of the villages where. After the voting that candidate for councilor in the third district was in the top 5 in the entire district council result.

Of course winning in an election is not always all about who’s got more money and better organization. A candidate’s acknowledged innate goodness in character and a better campaign strategy can help a lot.

That is, the strategy must be flexible; that it is ready to adapt to the kind of voter audiences that a candidate has to face or interact with. That way a candidate will surely be able to live his or her dream of serving the public, not for the public to serve.


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