A study conducted by the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) on the bobotante (stupid voter) phenomenon that plagues Philippine politics sought to test a hypothesis commonly-held amongst the Philippines’ “thinking classes” — that it is primarily impoverished voters (the majority of Filipinos) that are inclined to vote stupid.
The results published in an Inquirer report are seemingly conclusive. ‘Bobotantes’ are thinking voters the ADMU asserts.
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“The poor vote is a thinking vote and you see it everywhere—you see it on how they consider candidates, you see it in vote processes such as vote buying. While we can easily say that is evil, the poor think about it in different ways; there might even be a sense of justice in the way they sell their votes,” Claudio said.
“It’s not a simple immoral act that they don’t think about. It is a well thought-out process. The process of selling one’s vote is a reasoned and logical process.”
So there you have it. The venerable ADMU has ruled that poor voters are actually thinking voters. So why then do idiotic and crooked politicians continue to be elected to critical Philippine Government positions?
The trouble with the Ateneo study is that the hypothesis they are testing is flawed to begin with. Anybody who’s spent time monitoring political chatter on Twitter and Facebook will find that some of the most educated and well-off Filipinos are the ones who do not apply sound thinking in the assertions and choices they make come election day.
The administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, is a good example. The Aquino administration was a product of the emo philosophies of the Philippines’ illustrado (“civil” and “educated”) classes. The Aquinos (the late Cory in 1986 and her son in 2010) were chosen not on the basis of their qualifications. They were chosen on the basis of the idea that the virtues of “sacrifice” and “prayerfulness” make a good Philippine president.
Indeed, current President BS Aquino triumphed in the 2010 elections over rival candidates who offered far more experience and qualifications suitable for the presidency. But Aquino seized the candidacy from then front-runner Senator Mar Roxas and went on to win the presidency on the back of a wave of sympathy following the death of his mother. The sectors of Philippine society that incited that mass sympathy wave was none other than the illustrado classes who should have known better.
We see, today, the way these otherwise well-heeled, Catholic university-educated bozos continue to prop up the old Yellow brand that has come to symbolise the no-results regime of emotionalism and voodoo politico-spirituality that has characterised the last 30 years of “democracy” that was supposedly “restored” by the Aquinos. The irony that flies above their pointed heads is that it is this very stubborn adherence to Yellow rhetoric that had doomed the candidacy of their hapless presidential bet Mar Roxas who, as of now, has virtually zero chance of winning in this year’s elections.
It is worth noting that the Ateneo (where this so-called study on ‘bobotantes’ was conceived) is a bastion of the same Yellow thinking that this sad sector of the Philippine electorate continues to foolishly latch on to as their philosophy of salvation. In mid April, a mock poll conducted by the Ateneo on its student body revealed that Roxas and Robredo top Ateneans’ preferences for the country’s next leaders…
Roxas topped the polls with 37.2% of the vote – or 875 of the 2,351 votes cast for president. Robredo received 74.86% of the vote for vice president, or 1,760 of the total votes.
This is interesting considering that the very study this esteemed university had conducted had concluded that the majority poor in the Philippine electorate are, in fact, thinking voters.
Note then that the preferences of Ateneans are wildly inconsistent with broader-based surveys showing Roxas and Robredo trailing former Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bongbong Marcos. Suffice to say, there aren’t too many impoverished Filipinos who comprise the student rolls of the Ateneo de Manila. So by exhibiting a cult-like beholdenness to the Roxas-Robredo tandem inconsistent with the preferences of the majority of Filipinos (as revealed by bigger surveys), are Ateneans actually exhibiting a lack of an ability to properly think through their choices for President and Vice President of the Philippines respectively?
It is quite likely that Ateneans are, themselves guilty of practicing the very patronage politics that has long been seen to be the bane of modern governance in the Philippines. My colleague Ilda put forth this theory back in March following a statement issued by the Ateneo faculty collectively condemning Martial Law “historical revisionism” and going as far as accusing presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos of directly perpetrating alleged atrocities against Filipinos during the Martial Law regime of his father former President Ferdinand Marcos. Ilda was apparently spot on observing how…
[…] members of the Ateneo faculty are not using their critical analysis skills in dealing with the Marcoses. They are, instead, allowing their irrational bias towards the Aquinos to rule their thinking. A lot of people are baffled as to why they are not speaking out against the atrocities committed during the two Aquino regimes – Cory and BS Aquino’s term. It’s not like the extra-judicial killings had stopped after Martial Law. Military and police abuses still happened during Cory’s term and are still happening today during her son’s term.
The wholesale flawed thinking applied by the Ateneo faculty in the positions it takes in today’s politics has, unfortunately, rubbed off on the student body. That 37 and 74 percent of Ateneans would vote for Roxas and Robredo respectively says a lot about how very little thinking is actually going on in the halls of this hallowed citadel of Jesuit learning.
Credit this to a bad case of ivory towerism. The Ateneo has long encouraged that its graduates come “down from the hill” equipped with their expensive American education and get their hands dirty in the real world once they leave its tony campuses. Unfortunately, when the very leaders and educators of the Ateneo themselves remain trapped in The Matrix, the promise of true enlightenment will continue to elude the Philippine youth’s otherwise most promising cliques.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.