The partial and unofficial results in senatorial votes have yielded sentiments that Filipino voters are “bobotante,” a portmanteau of idiot and voter. The dismay in unofficial elections results has even led to a spike in Google Trends of Filipinos searching for the term “migrate”.
However, pinning the blame on poor Filipino voters is a lazy analysis. It fails to look beyond the elections, and it ignores the entire social, political, and economic system that perpetuates itself with impunity.
To blame the poor also assumes that everyone has equal access to information.
The truth is – it is the “analysis” the powers-that-be want us to parrot. Laying the blame on Filipino voters, especially the poor, is an attempt to legitimize the results of the election because it implies that it reflected the people’s genuine aspirations as expressed through their ballots.
“Bobotante” is a show of outrage at the election results, but it’s also barking up the wrong tree. It is victim-blaming. There is understandably a feeling of disgust with the election results. But don’t let it drive us against one other, or worse, to disparage the poor who are and will all the more be the victims of the next set of “elected” officials. Don’t let us add more poison to impunity.
Any variant of victim-blaming for the incredible election results is divisive and will only serve the “winners” of the dubiously conducted elections and the tools they have used.
Considering that this is the fourth time the country conducted an automated elections, the midterm elections prove to be anything but efficient, credible, and transparent. The seeming unpreparedness in resolving perennial technical glitches, the red-tagging and harassment of those rooting for opposition and progressive candidates, the brazen vote-buying, and the appalling use of government resources to support administration-backed candidates — these give rise to doubts, uncertainties, and questions waiting to be answered.
These also demand accountability. Rather than blame the poor and the victims, let us blame and seek solutions for this obviously flawed, foreign-patented, non-transparent automated elections system in an elite democracy.
And so the next time you’re pushed to point your finger to the Filipino voters, the next time you agree to accuse them of being bobo, search your heart if you truly believe, without any doubt whatsoever that the sanctity of every vote has been truly respected.