Risa Hontiveros may be a devout Roman Catholic but her values are very inclusive in the sense that she believes in the individual’s right to self-determination and freedom of speech; thought and action have to be defended in the law. While she may have had socialist and left leanings, this does not detract from the fact that she has done her homework as a member of congress representing the Akbayan! party list.
She was hardly a prominent national figure as the surveys showed. In Pulse Asia polls conducted just a few weeks before the elections, her awareness rating (determined by an affirmative response to “do you know this person?”) was at 62% – easily the lowest in the bunch that had a statistical chance of winning in the May polls.
She ran a spirited campaign but what did her was probably how the Iglesia ni Cristo poured in votes into the elections. The religious sect has always practiced bloc voting in national and local elections. Each member of the religious organization is strongly encouraged to vote for the sect’s ticket for the sake of unity and the common good.
Eleven of the twelve senators that the INC endorsed are likely winners. The only candidate to have crashed into the top twelve is Serge Osmena – a former senator. Ruffy Biazon who is currently in a distant 14th is the only one from the INC’s list that is likely to fail in winning a seat. Risa Hontiveros is sitting idly in 13th – over 800 thousand votes behind erstwhile 12th placer TG Guingona.
The estimates regarding the Iglesia’s support are varied. Some quarters peg it at over four to five million while more realistic numbers approach 1.5 to 2 million supporters. Regardless, in an election where Lito Lapid (author of one bill in six years) and Tito Sotto is ahead of Risa Hontiveros, a solid voting bloc is absolutely a game changer.
It’s really hard to say whether or not serious manipulation is happening. For one, the people voting are consenting adults who for some reason or another decided to give up the right to think for themselves and let their overseers decide what’s best for them and their congregation. It’s hard to knock them for driving mental and spiritual slaves into precinct to vote for the sect’s choices if the freedom and individuality of the member are willingly given up for the common good.
Free thought is the very thing and the only thing that Freethinkers hold most dearly. But what happens when a person chooses to give it up? Is it still free though in action? In the name of justice, the person still is exercising his right to self-determination in that sense. Whether or not he is aware of the other options is moot; it would have been a wiser decision had there been no monopoly of perspectives before the choice was made.