Politics always divides the people
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - April 24, 2018 - 12:00am

Mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, and presidents should unite and not fragment the people. But politics often cause too much fragmentation.

It is barangay and SK political campaign season again, and once more, the small villages in our whole country shall be divided again. Brothers against brothers, cousins against cousins, neighbors against relatives, politics does not unify the community. It fragments the people into small factions. But this is a ritual we have to go through in the name of democracy. Elections are always divisive. Political campaigns always pit parties against parties. Political speeches always create bad blood and ill feelings, which sometimes even go out of hand, and end leading to murder, armed clashes and tribal wars, or clan confrontations. Most candidates do not stick to the issues but go on mudslinging, character assassinations, rumor-mongering, and spreading fake news.

In the coming barangay and SK polls, it cannot be avoided that close relatives find themselves pitted against each other by parties respectively supported by the mayor, or the congressman, or the governor. What could be a friendly contest among close friends and blood relations would escalate into heated rivalries where money, power, and influence are used to gather supporters and followers. Filipino petty politicians in the local levels are more intense and too personal, compared to national candidates. Local barangay bets are aggressive, even confrontational and adversarial. They often use tactics that border on coercion and deceit in order to win a local election.

I remember when I was a student leader and I was asked by a barangay candidate, my uncle, in our village to help in the campaign. I initiated the making of a big map of the entire barangay with the houses of all residents colored either blue, red, or yellow. The blue ones were our sure loyalists, our close relatives and true friends. The red ones are those who would vote against us, as they were the close followers of our opponents. The yellow ones are those who are not sure which side they are for. They were undecided and we were not sure of their inclination, thus we focused our intense campaign and propaganda on 25 yellow households. As a result of our focused campaign, we were able to convince 21 out of the 25 yellow households and we won the political battle by a measly 20 votes.

It was a very good learning experience. I gained immensely in terms of knowing more the character of persons. But because of my partisan stance during the campaign, I lost some of my friends. They would not talk to me for years. That is the evil of politics. It is divisive. It breaks relationships. It destroys good friendships and it creates animosity and friction. If I can help it, I would stay away from partisan political contests, and I would prefer to stay in the sidelines to help make the elections honest, orderly, and peaceful. I would help educate the voting masses and instill the spirit of community volunteerism, rather than partisanship.

We cannot remain isolated from, and impervious to, the national political exercise. But we can involve ourselves in many different ways without joining the fray of heated political combat. Politics divides people, but we, the enlightened citizenry, can be there to heal the wounds of factionalism and political strife.

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com

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