The social media and the 2016 Philippine national elections

The social media has made a lot of Filipinos looking boldly assertive about their opinions. So bold in fact that some (if not most) have crossed the borderline of being rude.

Especially in the hotly contested presidential post in the upcoming May 2016 national elections, the Filipinos, in a brazen display of divisiveness, has brought their dissensions ever so boldly in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The most insulted group of presidential supporters no doubt, are the supporters of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the Visayan-Mindanaoan 2016 Presidential aspirant, the well-loved Mayor of Davao City who transformed the city from a “no-man’s land” to one of the safest cities in the world based on the rankings sometime in mid of 2015.  I say this so because in fact, this is the only group of supporters given a unique label.

The supporters of the mayor are called “Dutertards”.

The word comes from Rodrigo’s last name, “Duterte”” and from the word “retard” which is a direct insult to the intelligence of his supporters (retard defined as: mentally handicapped and often used as a verbal abuse).

PHOTO 03: LEGITIMATE OPERATION -- Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (left) stressed in a press briefing on Monday, July 15 that his shoot-to-kill order and the police operation against the kidnap for ransom group last week was legitimate and that he would protect and assist all his policemen involved in the operations. Beside Duterte is criminal lawyer Salvador Panelo who said that the reaction of CHR chief Loretta Ann Rosales to the video footage was cenimatic. (Alexander D. Lopez) FILE PHOTO

Rodrigo Roa Duterter, Mayor of Davao, PDP-Laban Presidential bet for 2016

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The supporters of the Mayor, are perhaps the most passionate of all the supporters of the Presidential aspirants in this election. Say anything not so flattering about the mayor and they will get back to you with a huge list of the Mayor’s accomplishments in Davao and of course, this comes with not so flattering words against the person who made the dissension.

Just recently, a freshman UP student got the ire of the supporters of Duterte.  The video of the UPLB student made the rounds in Facebook and of course, the young man was called so many ugly names for being supposedly rude when he interrupted the mayor who was answering his question in a UPLB forum.  The supporters strongly believe that the manner in which the student interrupted the mayor was uncalled for, or simply put: rude.

The most common word being used against someone who dissents against the other in terms of political support is “bobotante”. This is directly translated as “dumb / stupid voter”, another insult of the intelligence of the one with the dissenting opinion.

The word “bobotante” is being hurled against the supporters of Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Santiago, Jojo Binay, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas. Make a mistake of saying your opinion about any of them, and their social media warriors are quick to defend their bets with utmost passion and ugly name calling.

The social media has projected a different persona of the Filipino. Bold, aggressive, argumentative, and quick to rebuke anyone who shows a different opinion than his own.

But outside the social media scene, the typical Filipino is different. He is typically timid and afraid to say his thoughts because he doesn’t want to hurt the other. He is non-confrontational and would rather keep his own opinion than start a debate. He is polite and conciliatory.  For him, the person is more important than his opinion. For him, being at peace with everyone is more important than asserting his thoughts.

What could have caused the Filipinos to be aggressive in the social media scene?

  • Could it be the supposed anonymity? I do not know you, you do not know me?
  • Could it be the supposed physical distance? We won’t even see each other physically.
  • Could it be the anger of the blatant corruption in our country? Even some of the presidential aspirants are accused of making dirty money out of their government posts.

Whatever the case may be, one universal truth remains certain. “A person buys from the salesman he likes. And no one likes a rude salesman”.

In the case of the presidential election, it can simply mean that convincing someone to vote for your presidential bet by calling them ugly names is definitely not the best method to win their votes.

All the best to our presidential bets.

In the coming elections this May, let’s all go out and vote!


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