The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has officially declared the start of the election period by the implementation of the gun ban. The official declaration may have been done recently, but the campaigning and the jockeying for positions have begun a year ago.
The candidates for president and vice-president have already been making the rounds all over the country since a year ago. The public has already been bombarded by campaign ads masked as information plugs. Candidates for national office have been making statements on each and every issue. There are those, in an attempt to draw attention to themselves, who have been issuing controversial statements such as asking the public not to vote for their opponents. Worse, the mudslinging has intensified to an extent where two presidential candidates have already challenged each other to a fistfight and gun duel.
But the worst tactic of all seems to be coming from the Aquino administration and the Liberal Party. It has been engaging in a war of attrition. By eliminating or rendering ineffective all candidates to the presidency, especially those who are ahead of its official candidate Mar Roxas in polls, it hopes to propel the latter to Malacañang. And since Roxas is so far down the line, the ruling Liberal Party has to eliminate three of the five candidates. Thus, it is not surprising that Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte are facing disqualification cases and Vice President Jejomar Binay, as well as his family, is being the subject of so many corruption cases.
The disqualification cases need not be resolved; it is enough to raise doubts that if any of the two wins, she or he might not be able to hold office and so the votes they get might go to waste. As for Binay, the objective appears to be part mudslinging and also to constrict his source of campaign funds.
And the more the Aquino administration burns itself with its anti-people decisions and policies such as Aquino’s obstinate defense of Transportation and Communications Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya, its rejection of proposals to lower income tax rates and veto of the bill to increase pensions of members of the Social Security System (SSS), the more it would use the whole state machinery to make Roxas win.
As it is, Mar Roxas is already plagued by his lack of accomplishments and his lack of appeal to the Filipino masses. He also has to carry the burden of the anti-people decisions, policies and programs of the Aquino administration.
Why is the Aquino administration trying so hard? What is at stake is not Aquino’s legacy or “daang matuwid,” as the government claims, but the high probability of President Aquino facing numerous cases once he steps down from office. Former president Joseph Estrada was imprisoned by the Arroyo administration, though he was pardoned and released later; Aquino placed Gloria Macapal-Arroyo under hospital arrest. What would prevent an unfriendly administration succeeding it from charging and placing Benigno Aquino III in jail – no matter how luxurious it may be – or hospital arrest?
Thus, while the candidates for national positions have begun campaigning a year ago and are just preparing to go all out during the official campaign period, the Aquino administration has been in full throttle since last year.