The political party system in the Philippines has perpetually been shaky, what with balimbings and fence-sitters regularly jumping to whichever ship is currently staying afloat. Filipino politicians have already been likened to Game of Thrones characters in more ways than one, and a card game called Politricks has been created in sarcastic commemoration of the system.
It comes only as a half-surprise, then, that the eligible voters — as well as those who did not even register — for the 2016 Philippine presidential elections have started to turn on each other because of their choice of candidates. On the level of the top 2 national positions alone, there are 30 possible permutations for the ballot (5 presidential bets times 6 vice president choices). Then again, as one Twitter user says:
In no large span of time, politics has become the most divisive issue in the country today. Thus, the biggest shocker is really in that the voters themselves are no fence-sitters: they stand by the president-VP tandem of their choice, and defend with all stubbornness. Friends have been unfriended and unfollowed because of political disagreements; and this might well be the closest Filipinos get to a political party system where principles and virtues are pitted against each other instead of persons. To vote for patriarchy or women’s rights? To prioritize crime or education? To support this advocacy or the other?
Of course, the voters are as diverse as the candidates they seek to elect into power. Individual proclivities are backed by any combination of any number of factors, not limited to a person’s values. (See diagram above.) That is why people may agree about one candidate and disagree about another.
Common sense is but one factor that goes into a voter’s decision-making process, and the one that comes into conflict most with the other factors. If Politician X has a track record of stealing from the citizens’ coffers, or even a TRO-ed graft and corruption case, it makes sense that he or she should not be in a position to do so anymore.
Utang na loob or debt of gratitude: Politician X steals money, but what if he or she has done a personal favor, e.g. grant a scholarship or fund a hospital bill?
Historical consciousness, e.g. Martial law in the 1970s — Did it happen or not? If yes, was the voter in question a victim of the Marcos dictatorship, or a beneficiary of it? Said voter’s answers to these questions could determine his or her opinion on certain bets.
The concepts in the diagram, of course, are not the only reasons that a voter would opt for one politico over another. Elections in this democratic country are tricky, sensationalist blighters; the Philippine electorate even more so. At this rate, we can only wait for the moment of suffrage itself to resolve the matter once and for all — and even then, doubtless there will still be people who will dispute the decision of the majority. Filipinos may be sensationalists, but they will defend their candidate… even if it literally kills them.