BY Ellen Tordesillas
It’s heartening to know interest among young people to participate in the 2010 elections is growing.
Political consultant Malou Tiquia, in her presentation on “Developments in the 2010 election campaign” in a recent forum sponsored by the Ateneo School of Government, said of the 45,029,443 registered voters as of March 2009, nine million belong to age 18-35 years old. Election observers expect 22 per cent of voters would come from the youth sector.
If these young people would identify with someone in their age range, they would have three to choose from: Chiz Escudero of the National People’s Coalition, who will be turning 40 (the minimum age requirement to be president) on October 10; Gilbert Teodoro of the administration’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD; and the Liberal Party’s Noynoy Aquino.
With the significant number of voters being young, Tiquia, who is advising Escudero now, said there would be higher use of New Media both by the candidates and the voters. “Social networking sites (Facebook, Friendster, Multiply, MySpace) allow candidates to establish constant visibility to their constituents. It allows them to present their political agenda as well as personal lives in a non-obtrusive manner,” she said,
Tiquia further said, “the informal landscape of the Internet may prove to be effective in creating a more personal connection with voters.”
Blogs, which number almost 400,000 in the country today, may be used to “create buzz”, she said.
But she said although there have been a sharp increase of internet users in the past eight years (two million in 2000 to 20 million in 2008), Tiquia said television and radio are still the more effective media for the candidates to reach the greatest number of audience.
In Metro Manila, for example, TV reaches 78 per cent of the population; radio, 31 per cent; newspapers, 53 per cent and internet , 16 percent.
In other parts of Luzon, TV reaches 70 per cent; radio, 45 per cent; newspapers, 39 per cent and internet, six per cent.
In the Visayas, TV reaches 71 per cent; radio 47 per cent; newspapers 30 per cent and internet five per cent. In Mindanao, TV reaches 64 per cent, radio 44 per cent, newspapers 22 per cent; and internet three per cent.
That explains why presidential candidates are saturating TV with their ads. Nielsen Media data show that from October 2008 to May 2009, Nacionalista party presidential bet Manny Villar has spent P321 million on TV ads. A source said as of last month, Villar’s TV ads spending has already reached P600 million.
And official campaign period has not yet started!
Sen. Mar Roxas, who dropped out from the presidential race in favor of Aquino, had spent P256 million while Teodoro had spent P30 million as of May 2009.
Tiquia said the past three national elections showed an average of 74.25 voters turnout. That would mean about 33 million out of the almost 46 million registered voters. She said to win in a contest of four or five presidential candidates, the winner should get at least 30 per cent of the votes or 10 million votes.
In 1992, Fidel Ramos won with only 5,342,321 votes (16.62 per cent of total registered voters) over Miriam Santiatiago who got 4,468,133.
In 1998, Joseph Estrada got 10,722,295 votes (31.39 per cent of registered voters) over Jose de Venecia’s 4,268,483 votes.
In the fraud-riddled 2004 election, Arroyo was proclaimed after being credited with 12,905,808 votes (29.64 per cent) over Fernando Poe Jr.’s 11,782, 232 votes.
Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Station, in his presentation on “Expectations of the Filipino people for the 2010 elections., said the unpopularity of Gloria Arroyo will be factor in the voters’ decision.
Mangahas said, “It is an outstanding fact that most Filipinos have been dissatisfied with the president’s performance throughout the past five years. In contrast, during the 2004 election campaign, the public’s regard for GMA was either moderate or neutral.”
Mangahas noted that Arroyo was not alone as an increasing unpopular leader citing the case of US President George W. Bush whose popularity plunged from 2001 to 2008. ”Common sense says that it will be just as hard for GMA’s candidate to win in 2010 as it was for Bush’s candidate to win in 2008. The main task of her candidate will be to convince the public that he/she will be very different.”