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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
April 21, 2013 issue
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Candidates, not hacks must educate voters


I promised in last Sunday’s Agora that beginning this issue until Election Day, I would give our readers a glimpse of the inner person of the different candidates running for provincial and city posts as the Agora’s contribution to the voters making a firm decision on who to vote on May 13th. As a column, The Agora is my opinion and thoughts on the subject matter that I write. But for the sake of objectivity The Agora will not opinionate on the personalities of the candidates. The Agora will make the candidates themselves educate the readers on who they are, what their plans and frameworks of development are, and what they will make of us in three years that they will preside over our socio-economic and political lives.

I thought I could bring the four candidates running for Governor in today’s issue. Unfortunately none of them could send answers to the queries I sent through their emails, at least to Gov. Edgar M. Chatto and Mayor Conchita ‘Che’ Toribio. The fault may have been mine since I only sent the questions to them last Thursday and given that they are all busy with their campaign sorties, there may not have been enough time. So I will have to postpone writing about them to the next Sunday’s issue. To the two other gubernatorial candidates, Amay Bisaya and Dany Garcia, I had no way of contacting them. I sent a colleague to inquire from the provincial office of the Comelec for their telephone numbers or their email addresses but my colleague came back empty handed. If even the Comelec does not have access to their telephones or email addresses, how can the electorate gain access to who they are and how they plan to serve their constituents? Now I understand why the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry that sponsored a gubernatorial debate could not bring in the two other candidates to the venue.

I chose to send my questions through the email as this is the most convenient mode of communication today. In fact information technology and the social media are now considered the most effective tool for people power today. Everybody can be a citizen journalist who can show they care and can take action on any issue anytime. While it is good to hire hacks and apologists, especially if the candidate is not that good at oral and written communication, hearing them talk and watching their non-verbal language are the best gauge for knowing the character and person of the candidates, especially the candidates who are running for the first time. This is the reason why our election law mandates a Comelec hour to be provided free by the media so that everyone can be afforded free time to sell themselves or convince the electorate that they are the best candidate for the position they are running for. Hacks are only good for propaganda purposes. But propaganda does not make a candidate victorious. This has been proven many times by those who practically occupied all the airtime on radio and television in past elections. All they had after election was a huge bill to be paid and the feeling of being humiliated.

There can be no substitute for being personally seen and heard by the voters. This was evident from the results of the last Bohol Poll on awareness and voters preference. Those who were always seen and heard by the people, particularly the incumbents, rated very high in the Poll. Those whose names were heard, much less seen for the first time occupied the bottom slots in the rating. To all the candidates therefore, please educate the voters yourselves about who you really are as a person and as a public figure when you get elected. Be seen and be heard on your views on issues that affect the community. Don’t rely on your paid hacks because people know that you pay them handsomely for their talent to paint you a sweet image. You have decided to devote yourselves to public service. Then you must start now. Be seen and be heard. You only have 20 days more to do so.

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