Press Release
November 22, 2012


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago cautioned young voters of various distortions in choosing candidates for next year's national elections.

Speaking before students of the Far Eastern University last Thursday (22 November 2012), Santiago said that while elections allow voter participation, this participation is distorted by lack of education among the voter and the voted.

"Elections are distorted because under our system, the successful candidate might be the choice of only a minority. This was what happened when the people and I were robbed of the presidency in 1992. The person who claimed that he won the presidential election was only a plurality president," Santiago said.

Santiago also identified the control of political parties of choosing which candidates to field before the electorate as another distortion.

Santiago said the most important and notorious of these distortions happen on election day, like vote-buying where rich candidates buy their votes from the willing masses.

"The most notorious distortion of the people's choice is electoral corruption. There are still scientific doubts on the accuracy of the voting machines that we started to use in the last elections," she said.

According to Santiago, the problem with elections is that Filipino voters are often swayed by the personal appeal of a candidate.

"Public opinion is often shaped by conscious efforts of the political elites and the media. It is a myth that Filipino voters make rational choices of candidates. Often, the uneducated voter is merely expressing support for the system, or merely expressing emotional attachments to certain symbols," Santiago said.

Santiago said that since television takes the major share in political advertising, a candidate with little money will most likely lose to a candidate with big political contributors that will allow him to buy as many TV ads as possible.

"TV provides less political information than newspapers. We see candidates singing, dancing, and looking comical in their desperate attempt to appeal to the TV audience. The voter who watches TV obtains no clue about the candidate's character and qualifications," Santiago said.

Santiago also warned that although the consumption of political information online is increasing rapidly, the internet presents several problems to the political system.

"Political groups tend to accept and disseminate online information to support their own views. Also, internet sources are usually lack objectivity and accuracy," Santiago said.

To address these distortions, Santiago gave a lecture on how students can educated the Filipino electorate, saying students can insist that candidates should have a record of academic and professional excellence, and a record of moral positions on national policy issues.

"For example, you should campaign so that voters will say Yes to candidates who favor the bills that I have filed, such as the RH Bill, sin tax bill, Magna Carta for Internet Freedom Bill, and Freedom of Information Bill," Santiago said.

"Conversely, you should campaign so that voters will say No to epal candidates, political dynasties, and premature campaigners," Santiago added.

Santiago was referring to the epals as credit-grabbers under her Senate Bill No. 1967, "An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit Through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project."

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