These two themes are to characterize the 2013 midterm elections. This election will serve as a referendum on political dynasties, and it will test the potency of Church-led organized negative campaigns against certain candidates, who voted for the Reproductive Health Law, and who are members of political dynasties.
Recent developments indicate that the coming polls will also test the capability of the Roman Catholic Church and other minority churches to influence the course of political developments in the country and the effectiveness of social networking sites. The latter have been the venue for the discussions of political issues.
An organized campaign by the Catholic Church and some minority churches seek to create public awareness on the inability of Congress over the last 25 years to enact the enabling law on the anti-political dynasty provision of the 1987 Constitution.
The main intention is to embarrass the scions of these political dynasties so that they would be discouraged to run again in the next elections. The campaign seems to be succeeding in its extensive use of social networking sites.
A crushing defeat for majority of candidates identified with political dynasties will deliver the ultimate message that the Filipino people reject the presence and domination of these political dynasties in Philippine politics. The next Congress will have no choice but to enact the enabling law on the anti-dynasty constitutional provision.
Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church has indicated it will oppose the candidates, who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Law, as it prepares to engage in an organized negative campaign to convince voters to refrain from reelecting the pro-RH law candidates.
Their primary targets are pro-RH senators, who are seeking reelection, in a major attempt either to pull them down from the winning column or cause their defeat. If ever senatorial candidates like Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda lose three or four million votes and they land five or six notches down their projected 1-2 standing in the opinion polls, the presidential aspirations in 2016 would suffer tremendously.
The CBCP had earlier indicated it would use the pulpit to deliver its message to its faithful, which comprise at least 80 percent of the population of 100 million. It also indicated it would support the initiative for the Church to issue sample ballots containing the names of candidates it would support.
This development would mark the first time that the Church, as an institution, would support candidates through the use of sample ballots. This constitutes direct participation in the electoral process.
Organized negative campaign has been a significant feature of the country’s electoral process, but a dominant institution like the Church taking the lead is something new. Whether the Catholic vote exists is a persistent question, but the Church appears ready to test the validity of this proposition in the next polls.
Furthermore, it indicates confidence that it could influence the country’s political destiny. It is a case of a hard Church participating actively in a soft state like ours.