Friday, February 16, 2007


Dagdag-Bawas. I first heard the term "dagdag-bawas" from Senator Nene Pimentel back in 1995 when, having lost in that year's senatorial race, he complained of having been cheated of victory by certain "operators" in Comelec. Senator Biazon, who also failed to get reelected in 1995, likewise claimed to have been a victim of dagdag-bawas. I am not sure who between the two originally coined the term, but the word dagdag-bawas has been incorporated into our colorful and uniquely-Filipino lexicon.

I was always confused by the meaning of the term dagdag-bawas. As an Ilonggo, I've always thought that dagdag-bawas meant "to junk the candidate & to shave his votes." You see,"dagdag" in Ilonggo means "to fall" or "to drop" or "to junk" as in "nadagdag ako sa katre" ("I fell off my bed") whereas in Tagalog, dagdag means "to add." Thus, candidates should be afraid (be very afraid) of the Ilonggo politician who threatens to "dagdag-bawas" them for he might be planning to both junk and "decrease" their votes! When Pimentel and Biazon claimed that they were victims of dagdag-bawas during the 1995 elections, I honestly thought that they were complaining about their own partymates junking them and some unscrupulous Comelec employees cheating them of their votes (Pimentel at that time was especially unpopular among LGU officials because, as Cory's DILG Secretary, he spearheaded the unseating of Marcos-era mayors and the appointment of OICs. Biazon for his part, was said to be disfavored by FVR's trusted man, Joe Almonte -- so the prospect of them of being junked was quite real).

Now I understand that "dagdag-bawas" actually means shaving the votes of one candidate and counting it in favor of another. This method of "wholesale" cheating, I am told, is much harder to detect and more cost-effective than say, paying countless flying voters to cheat for you. For example, during the last 2004 elections, GMA campaign operatives supposedly developed an ingenious "algorithm" wherein they made GMA win overwhelmingly in provinces where she is popular and lose only slightly in the provinces considered to be her opponents' bailiwicks. For example in the Bicol Region, which has long been a Roco bailiwick, GMA lost by a very slim margin to Roco. Likewise in Mindanao, where the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr. was said to be immensely popular, election results showed that GMA lost by a slim margin and in fact even won over FPJ in some provinces there. But in the areas where she was perceived to be popular, GMA won by a wide margin. In vote-rich Cebu province alone, GMA supposedly won by more than a million votes over FPJ. Likewise in Iloilo.

The Garcillano Tapes have given the public an insightful glimpse of how candidates and shadowy election officers operate and cheat in elections. The Garci scandal almost toppled GMA, but the fractured opposition failed to rally public opinion to their side mainly because the people perceived them to be no better than the person they were trying to oust. Every Filipino knows that almost every politician in this country cheats and those few that do not, have to spend hundreds of thousands of pesos just to "protect" their votes from dagdag-bawas operators.

Sadly, not one among those mentioned in the Garci Tapes has been punished, with some of the personalities mentioned in the tape even flourishing under this administration. Ironically, the principal figure in the scandal Virgilio Garcillano is contemplating to run for Congress in Bukidnon and the "Garci generals" are all occupying high military posts.

As long as the "mechanics" in Comelec ply their dastardly trade with impunity and so long as politicians who benefit from it are not punished, I foresee that dagdag-bawas will continue to be a bane in Philippine electoral politics for many years to come.


Migs & 'Tol. Administration senatorial candidate Miguel Zubiri may have scored brownie points with Ilonggo voters for adopting the campaign nickname "Migs." Migs is an abbreviation of the Ilonggo word "migo" (from the Spanish word "amigo") which means "friend" or "pal." The word "migs" is commonly used by young Ilonggos to connote friendship and/or familiarity with another person. Zubiri has been consciously courting the Ilonggo vote; he recently visited Iloilo City to join in the Dinagyang Festival merry-making and many were surprised that he can speak Ilonggo fluently. His advocacy for the Biofuels Act, which he claims will uplift the sugar industry out of its moribund state, will likewise add to his pogi points in Western Visayas especially in the vote-rich, monocrop-economy province of Negros Occidental.

As regards Mike Defensor, whose campaign monicker is 'Tol, I would caution him against using it in Western Visayas. 'Tol is an abbreviation of the street slang "utol" which means "brother" in English and is usually used by Tagalogs much in the same way Ilonggos use "migs" to connote friendship, familiarity or camaraderie. But "utol" in Ilonggo is a kind of dog flea - the big, round, grayish kind that loves to suck the blood of dogs. The "utol" is usually easy to spot because it "stands out" while another species of dog flea, the "bitik," is much harder to squash because it is smaller and harder to spot its dark, reddish color makes it blend well with the dog's fur (as a dog- lover who is a proud owner of four dachshunds, I have become an expert dog-groomer and flea-killer). If he likes to win in Western Visayas, Mike should utilize his surname Defensor and capitalize more on his kinship with Ilongga Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Iloilo Congressman Art Defensor.


Anonymous said...

that's exactly what came to mind after seeing the campaign ad of defensor. but i think he's more of the "bitik" and gma is the "utol" sucking the blood out from the filipino people. obviously, im not a fan of the administration.

Anonymous said...

Actually,"dagdag" also means "dugang" in Ilonggo.

Anonie said...

What is still puzzling is that as Filipinos complain and bitch about problems, in the same breath they moan and groan that they are powerless and "bahala na ang diyos". VICTIMS, ALL!!!!

Oliver M. Mendoza said...

Thank you for your comments.

anonie said...

By the way, it is not PeoplePower, but rather FLOWER.POWER -- pyrethins -- that is the solution to fleas.

Anonymous said...

should we just stand still just because of garci tape scandal? that is what the antigma forces always would put forward as a precondition to moving forward. But is there really is resolution to evry issue? what about ninoy's case? yamashita gold? marcos abuses? better look ahead guys..don't be dictated by the misplaced sentiments of imperial manila..

Anonymous said...

Lets vote for Miguel Zubiri, ang magiging boses ng kabataan sa senado!