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Election campaign phenomenon emerges in the Philippines

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Supporters of presidential candidate Leni Robredo pose for a group photo during the campaign launch on Feb. 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Dennis Gorecho

Diana G. Mendoza

Manila– The election campaign fever that is reaching its highest point in the Philippines, almost seven weeks to the May 9 elections, is taking on a new play with daring volunteerism, youthful buoyancy and courage to speak up for and stand with a candidate both in social media and on the streets.

From the burst of pink, her campaign color, upon her announcement of candidacy for the presidency, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo continues to enjoy a huge attendance as she barnstorms the provinces calling for a “pink revolution” to steer the country back to values, honest governance and the rule of law, with people turning up in pink shirts and pink campaign materials, including posters with witty slogans and messages.

“That’s why they dislike the game of drones,” a netizen posted on Facebook as he compared two photos taken from a drone of the campaign sorties of Robredo showing a sea of pink, and a scant crowd of red, the campaign color of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Surveys continue to indicate that Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, is the frontrunner, followed by Robredo. The other leading aspirants who wish to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte are world boxing champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso, a former actor who goes by his screen name Isko Moreno, Senator Panfilo Lacson and labor leader Leodegario “Leody” de Guzman.

It must also be the relaxed post-pandemic restrictions that make Filipino voters walk and show up in droves to the campaign venue with their own tarps, stickers and materials to show support for Robredo, but observers also say the surprising turn of events may be an expression of anger from almost six years of repression by Duterte and his government.

Pulitzer-prize winning Filipino journalist Manny Mogato writes in PressOne PH that the May 2022 presidential elections are different in that this could be the first time since the country won its independence in 1946 when a presidential candidate will spend less for a campaign because an army of loyal and dedicated supporters are willing to pay for their own food, transportation, and campaign materials.

Mogato calls it a “people-driven” campaign not seen in Philippine elections when the candidates are known to buy the support of the people. “It’s a middle-class revolt that partly fueled the popular uprising against a dictatorship in 1986 and later against a corrupt president in 2001,” he said.

Marcos was ousted in the 1986 People Power revolt while Joseph Estrada was impeached for graft and corruption in 2001.

He said the volunteers have been working to stop not only the Marcoses from returning to power, but also the political families who were equally tainted with graft and corruption, like former presidents Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and members of other political dynasties.

They also don’t want Marcos Jr.’s running mate, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, from winning the vice presidency.

“These volunteers are supporting a candidate who can restore moral and decent leadership in government and ensure justice and truth will prevail. It’s not an EDSA 1986 experience but an entirely new phenomenon,” said Mogato.


Mostly from the middle class and the youth, he said the volunteers attend Robredo’s rallies to help her win and prevent Marcos from coming back to power.

Lalaine Tenorio, a resident of Bacolod City, which was adjudged the “winner” province by netizens who compared the attendance of Robredo’s sorties for having 70,000 people in attendance, said she encouraged her family, neighbors and friends to go with her.

“We are seeing a potential leader who can change everything that was ransacked under Duterte, so I personally campaign and educate especially the first-time young voters to vote for her,” she said.

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