Monday, May 03, 2010

The Ten “Do Nots” of Iloilo City Politics

1. Do Not Make Promises You Cannot Deliver. A politician who habitually breaks a promise eventually loses credibility with the people and other politicians. “Word of honor” still counts for something in Iloilo politics and a politico who keeps his word is admired by the people. Before making a promise, you must first make sure that you can deliver on that promise. For example, do not promise that you can deliver 90 barangay captains when you have not yet secured their support.

2. Do Not Abuse Your Power. For example, dismissing 900-plus City Hall casuals just because you think they are “sympathizing with the enemy” is pure abuse of power. And hiring a new set of casuals (who presumably are “loyal” to you) and not paying them for three months is likely to be interpreted as another example of how politicians exercise their power capriciously. Nothing will get people to hate you more than by depriving them and delaying their incomes. Firing old but “disloyal” employees and replacing them with new but supposedly “loyal” ones definitely is not good politics. Good politics is all about gaining friends, not enemies.

3. Do Not Fabricate “Scenarios” Just to Win Public Sympathy. Although Ilonggos are suckers for underdogs and “victims,” they are also a very cynical people who are quick to spot fakers. Ilonggo voters are very sophisticated and they instinctively know when a politician is trying to manipulate their feelings. For instance, claiming that your opponent hired assassins to kill you and ordered goons to bomb your properties may initially elicit public sympathy but it takes more than just “acoustic warfare” to earn their vote, especially if the PNP investigation report suggests that all the supposed incidents were “self-inflicted.” If you really need to make up “scenarios” to improve your electoral chances, better make sure that the people you get to do the job are professionals, not amateurs.

4. Do Not Coerce People to Vote For You. Nothing gets the Ilonggo’s goat more than the “Vote-or-Gabot” style of politics. One modern-day variation of this “Vote-or-Gabot” method is the following: ordering all your traffic aides to apprehend jeepney drivers indiscriminately and when they come to your office to claim their driver’s licenses, tell them that they will not have to pay the 300 pesos traffic penalty if they promise to vote for you. Another variation is by requiring City Hall casuals to attend your pulong pulongs and imposing a “No Attendance, No Salary” policy. Extracting political support thru coercion maybe be effective in Maguindanao but is not applicable in Iloilo City.

5. Do Not Weep in Public. In Ilonggo culture, it is only acceptable for a fully-grown man to cry when a close friend or a beloved family member dies. A man who weeps in public over minor things is perceived to be a wimp since crying is seen in our culture as a sign of weakness. Also, the masses already have enough problems of their own. Therefore, downloading all your woes, telling them about your difficulties and problems will not earn you their sympathy. On the contrary, it will only earn their contempt – “Sala mo na kay nag intra intra ka sa pulitika,” is a common snide remark. This is because people come to a pulong pulong to hear what the candidate can do for them, not to listen to his personal problems.

6. Do Not Flaunt the Law. We Ilonggos hate politicians who feel that they are above the law so much that we even invented a term for it – “waslik poder.” A seemingly minor matter like violating an anti-smoking ordinance can have disastrous effects on a politician’s credibility and public standing. In Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (where they also have an anti-smoking and anti-littering ordinance), people worship Mayor Edward Hagedorn (who is a cigarette smoker) because he abides by the law. Like any other ordinary citizen, he allowed himself to be penalized after a streetsweeper (in the employ of City Hall!) caught him throwing his cigarette butt on the street. Today, Puerto Princesa City is one of the cleanest cities in the Philippines because everyone follows the rules, but only after their mayor demonstrated (in a seemingly trivial way) that no one in his city is above the law.

7. Do Not Believe Your Own Hype. Time and again it has been proven that “investing” in expensive opinion surveys and “retaining” discredited media hacks to boost your public ratings is a total waste of money. Experience has shown that “word-of-mouth” campaigning is still the most effective method of campaigning at the local level. Try asking someone why they are voting for a particular candidate. Chances are he will tell you that he was approached and convinced by someone in his community - a family member, a childhood friend, a classmate, a professional colleague or business partner, his barangay captain, etc.

8. Do Not “Pad” Your Track Record. Exaggerating your achievements, grabbing credit for something you did not do, “padding” your educational credentials, etc. is a no-no in politics because sooner or later someone will find out (especially in a city as small as Iloilo) and tell the media about it. Again, Ilonggos have a word to describe this type of politician – “switik.” A “switik” is a highly charismatic person who passes himself off as something he is not (i.e. a “Harvard graduate” and “outstanding politician”) for personal gain. I believe the English equivalent of the word “switik” is “swindler” or “hustler” and the Tagalog term for it is “mangloloko” or “bolero.” Ilonggos, for obvious reasons, avoid “switiks” like the plague.

9. Do Not Be Loyal Only to Your Self. For political butterflies and opportunists, the name of the game (especially during the final days of the campaign period) is “salbaranay lawas.” “Saving yourself” may be well and good when your ship is sinking but if applied to politics will only result to mutual distrust, disunity, betrayal and eventually, electoral defeat. Thus, “salbaranay lawas” is not good politics in the long run.

10. Do Not Bite the Hand That Feeds You. In politics, loyalty is everything. A politician who betrays his master cannot be trusted. Ilonggos dislike intensely individuals who do not know how to pay their debts of gratitude. Thus, a politician who is perceived to be a “traidor kag wala kabalaslan” will not get far in politics.


Anonymous said...

and the eleventh would be"

11. Thou shall not be caught. Regardless of what you had done in the past and shall do to topple your enemies in the political arena, keep it to yourself, as if your last and ace card to carry bring you triumph against all odds. Take into account that in ther electoral cycle, there is no substitute for victory!

Anonymous said...

12. Fraud is unacceptable, you cannot hide forever, sooner or later your glass house will break. You are in the public eye, the more you hide it, the more people will disrespect you. They can see it through your mannerism, and it speaks louder than words. Don't deceive the public by portraying a family unit.