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Editorial: It’s campaign season again

The ear-catching and oftentimes cringe-inducing ads on television are signs that we are now in one of the most interesting periods in Philippine history. It’s election season again and in a few months, Filipinos will be choosing the next group of leaders who will set the course of the country for six years. Whether for better or for worse remains another story to be told.

To get a glimpse of the shores to which we could be carried, we as empowered individuals have sought to put the candidates’ platforms, issues, and even personalities under our watchful eye. And in yesterday’s PiliPinas 2016 Presidential Debates, we witnessed how the five presidential aspirants responded to even those issues that, while personal, remain relevant to public interest. As the conversations ensued, the Internet was abuzz with netizens rooting for their own bets – from critical affirmations on specific issues to the nonstop verbal bashing that never gets old.

Many of these assertions on social media focus on the personal qualities of the candidates. We can’t blame the lot for doing so as the 2016 national elections feature an enthralling roster of personalities running for the land’s highest office: Vice President Jejomar Binay, a man marred by corruption issues; Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a feisty woman whose health is under public scrutiny; Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a man whose unconventional ways of governance disturb far too many; Senator Grace Poe, the political “newcomer” being questioned for her nationality and competence; and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, whose image serves as an extension of the current administration’s controversies.

These personalities deserve our attention. But more than just focusing on the image they depict, we need to take heed of the one-liners, the pronouncements, the side comments, not simply for what they say about the aspirants, but for what they reveal about our society.

In this issue, Verstehen is going a different route by taking something of what each aspirant has said during the debates, or what others have said about the aspirants, and examining the social forces that bear on these statements. In the next few days, we will feature pieces that problematize some of the issues raised during this first leg of the Presidential Debates. We focus less on the performance of the candidates and more on specific points made, either by them or about them. The contributors have used these points as springboards for a better understanding of our society and culture. We won’t be disclosing any more so stay tuned!

The Editors
February 2016

Featured image is from this site.

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