At Large

Votes and rankings

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If there’s a concerted effort to promote—or create—a “Catholic Vote” in this country in time for the May 13 elections, there’s a parallel effort to muster enough support for the so-called “Purple Vote.”

Purple being the color most identified with women—and feminism—the “Purple Vote” is most commonly identified as the “Women’s Vote” but for this year’s exercise, it has been more firmly linked with support for reproductive health, more specifically the Reproductive Health Law. This law after many years hurdled the twists and turns of the legislature only to be frustratingly delayed by a “status quo ante” order from the Supreme Court.

So while the justices take their time debating the constitutionality of the RH Law, the results of the “Purple Vote” can very well serve as a proxy referendum on the strength of continuing public support for RH. That’s been demonstrated in over a decade’s worth of public opinion surveys, but it would be good to have it proven in the ballot box as well.

The list of candidates endorsed by the “Purple Ribbon for RH Movement,” an alliance of organizations and individuals supportive of the RH Law, will be revealed on Tuesday via a press conference called “Kandidatong May Prinsipyo, Suportado Ko (I Support Candidates with Principles)!”

A news release says the list will include “candidates who fought for the enactment of the RH bill and continue to support the law even as it struggles for its implementation. The candidates chosen also have a good position on social justice issues and have proven to serve the public with integrity.” Apart from the Senate aspirants, the “Purple Vote Campaign” will also endorse candidates for district representative who were or are vocal supporters of the RH Law.

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While we have a few days’ wait left for the release of the “Purple Vote” list, one of the coalition’s members, the PNGOC (or Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare), has no qualms about releasing the initial batch of candidates it is endorsing.

PNGOC Executive Director Eden Divinagracia says the group is endorsing the following: Risa Hontiveros, Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero and Bam Aquino. The other half of the “list of 12” will presumably be announced once consultations with the PNGOC’s network of 97 NGOs nationwide have been completed.

Aside from their support for the RH Law, says Divinagracia, the candidates who’ll make it to the list “should also have a good track record and clear position on other issues such as the freedom of information bill and the Sin Tax Law. [We] will also look into the candidate’s character.”

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Meanwhile, the “Timbangan” (weighing) process initiated by the Movement for Good Governance and its partners, Youth Vote Philippines and Mulat Pinoy, continues apace.

On April 24, a follow-up to the “Timbangan” held at the Ateneo Professional Schools was staged in Barangay Maybunga in Pasig. Given the different demographic of the crowd gathered in the barangay, the results of the straw polls held before and after the introduction and discussion of the MGG Scorecard was different from the composition and rankings of candidates that emerged at the Ateneo forum. But what remained the same, said a report on the Maybunga forum, was “the marked change in voter preferences after the process of benchmarking.” It is clear, said the same report, that “using the Scorecard compels voters to think beyond jingles and gimmicks and seriously consider qualifications and platforms.”

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Emerging first in the final, postdiscussion mock poll was Risa Hontiveros, followed by Grace Poe, Jun Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel, Jamby Madrigal, Teddy Casiño, Ed Hagedorn, Eddie Villanueva, and, tying at No. 9, Bam Aquino and JC delos Reyes.

The others on the “winning” final list: Dick Gordon, Chiz Escudero, Ramon Montaño, and Alan Peter Cayetano. Sonny Angara, Jack Enrile, Mitos Magsaysay, and Christian Señeres were tied at 15th place.

Contrast this lineup with the results of the initial mock poll, where participants made their choices before they heard about the Scorecard and listened to the discussion about how the standards in this Scorecard could be applied to the different candidates.

In this initial mock poll, Chiz Escudero emerged as No. 1, followed by Koko Pimentel and Alan Peter Cayetano. They were then followed by: Risa Hontiveros and Loren Legarda, who were tied at fourth; Sonny Trillanes, Teddy Casiño, Migz Zubiri, JV Ejercito, and Dick Gordon, with Bam Aquino, Ed Hagedorn, Jun Magsaysay, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar tied for 11th.

Some names are on both rankings, while others fall off and/or emerge in the second mock poll. As the report says, after being compelled to think more seriously about their choices, and armed with a Scorecard to help them with their decisions, voters can come up with a revised lineup, which can be good or bad news for some candidates, depending on where they perceive themselves vis-à-vis the Scorecard.

The crucial question, though, is that, overall, what matters most? Is it popularization of the Scorecard and similar tools to measure the worth of candidates? Is it the power of a voter’s conscience and due diligence? Or will it be good old-fashioned ward politics, vote-buying, coercion and marketing?

There are just about two weeks left before we troop to the precincts and shade our choices from among the bevy of men and women asking for our votes. This is the only time, mind you, that we ordinary voters can make our voices heard, our demands aired, our resentments manifest, and our deepest values validated—or rejected outright. Let’s see what happens on May 13.

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