The power of advertising was evident during the recently concluded elections. The traditional tri-media of newspaper, radio and television were used in promoting the names, achievements and platforms of candidates running for office. Since this is the age of technology, the web has also been utilized to contact and touch base with netizens.
Aside from the above mediums, advertising materials were used at the ground level to reach as many audience as possible. We are talking here about flyers, posters as well as motorized vehicles going around with their public address system in full blast playing the campaign jingles of candidates. One government official noted that “the level of noise and visual pollution went up during the campaign period because of the big number of election materials posted in public places on top of the incessant playing of politician’s campaign jingles.”
The Comelec specifies that campaign posters should only be put up in identified common areas in the localities. But we believe many of the candidates do not pay attention to this simple rule, opting to take a chance of posting materials in as many spots as possible to increase advertising mileage. The Comelec does not have enough deputized personnel to go around to check for such violations.
We espied some creative advertising tactics like one candidate making several big tarpaulins with poles on each end and hiring supporters to carry the tarps in selected places during rush hour to catch attention of the electorate. It was mobile and can be brought anywhere it is needed. Another private individual advertised that the front of his premises can be used in posting election materials for a fee. Talk about free enterprise!
Falling on deaf ears
But now that the election is over, there is always the need to cleanup all the posted campaign materials to bring back the cleanliness in the communities. But what is quite regrettable is the absence of the candidates’ support staff to do the cleanup themselves. The candidates were more than willing to spend for the creation and putting up of campaign materials and place them at will even in places not allowed by the Comelec. When it is time to do the cleanup, they leave it to the government and other volunteer civic organizations not affiliated with them to clean up after their mess.
So much so that the MMDA appealed to both winners and losers to help the agency in the post-election cleanup. They requested the candidates to take down their own poster and campaign materials and help MMDA clean up the heaps of trash to avoid them being washed into waterways and cause floods during heavy rains.
We believe the MMDA’s request will fall on deaf ears. And we are sure that it is a request that all local communities all over the country would like to do—for the candidates to clean up after their mess. The local communities in the end will have to spend their own time, manpower and limited resources to do the cleanup which should be the responsibility of the candidates and the political parties in the first place.
Doing your duty
So, if appeal to the candidates’ civic duty to clean up will not work, what will? One option is to penalize candidates if any of their campaign materials are still posted within one or two weeks after the election. The MMDA also came up with a good suggestion for the candidates to post a performance bond before the start of the campaign period which will be used to clean up after elections. It will be forfeited in favor of the local communities if the candidates do not clean up their mess.
If candidates cannot do this simple civic duty, let us not expect them to do bigger things when they assume office.
The author teaches at the De La Salle University Ramon del Rosario College of Business. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.