Don’t let political online vitriol translate to on-ground harassment | Inquirer Opinion

Don’t let political online vitriol translate to on-ground harassment

/ 05:01 AM February 11, 2022

Elections are here again. Elections are not only an opportunity to elect our leaders. If taken seriously, they create an opportunity and atmosphere to manifest the aspirations of the Filipino people.

Social media is now the quickest and most available platform to transmit our messages, especially during a pandemic. Not a few times, we see words like “tanga,” “bobo,” and “gago” freely landing on our timelines and dialogues online, as if we have won a battle or have been liberated into very bad behavior.


We need to focus on engaging the political candidates on issues, especially ones that matter most to the people. We should flood social media with concrete inquiries, objective facts, and the rational presentation of our positions. We should recognize the opportunity to engage those with whom we disagree and painstakingly participate in the process of reeducation. It is okay to feel angry at all of the lies and disinformation. This anger can still be cultivated into a garden that nurtures our values of truth, justice, and peace.

I am amazed how people can be so unforgiving over grammar, errors in the use of terms, or honest mistakes by the candidates; yet, they seem so forgetful about the sins of extrajudicial killings, corruption, and tyranny. We can rage vituperative against those whom we judge as “selling their votes” without understanding how the elite, violent, unjust system has created the conditions for vote-buying. We do not seek to justify vote-buying, as we do not want to cheapen the elections; however, part of our demand in governance is to pursue reforms that ensure social justice and eliminate vote-buying.


We must also guard against contributing to an atmosphere that increases risks for or endangers the lives of candidates and their supporters. Red-tagging progressive candidates and supporters is tantamount to placing them in harm’s way. Sadly under the Duterte administration, there has been so much bullying and a serious concern that to be identified as “Red” often leads to harassment, persecution, false charges and imprisonment, and to killings. Escalating derision for any reason can fuel some people to bad behaviors and violent acts. Things that start online can translate into on-ground misconduct. Elections should be a democratic exercise and candidates and supporters are to enjoy their democratic rights, without threats on their lives and welfare.

In general, we need to raise the bar on our online conduct. Sarcastically insulting others is in bad taste, but it also doesn’t assure the “winnability” of your candidate.

NORMA P. DOLLAGA, Kasimbayan, [email protected]



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