By GRACE S. UDDIN
DAVAO CITY– Months before the official start of the campaign period, the sons and daughters of Davao City’s top political clans are already wooing potential voters for the 2010 elections.
Although they haven�t officially started their campaign yet, Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Karlo Nograles, the son of House Speaker Prospero Nograles, are already making use of television, cyberspace and actual visits to the barangays to make themselves known to voters.
Sara Duterte had earlier declared her interest to run for mayor when her father�s term ends in 2010, a move which might pit her against her father�s fiercest political rival, House Speaker Nograles, perceived to be eyeing the post when his term as first district representative ends in 2010.
Nograles has denied this prospect but billboards announcing the Congressman�s projects, normally confined to Davao City�s first district barangays, have already reached as far as Los Amigos barangay of the third district.
Nograles� son Karlo has also declared his interest to run although he has not yet disclosed which post he has chosen. Earlier, he said he will run either as mayor, vice mayor or congressman.
Every time she takes over as the city�s acting mayor, Sara Duterte usually appears in the city government-sponsored television program �Gikan sa masa, para sa masa,� aired over ABS-CBN Davao on Sundays.
Known by her popular nickname �Inday,� the vice mayor makes the round to the 182 barangays through a caravan dubbed as �Inday para sa Barangay,� bringing the services of different local government agencies to far flung villages and distributing goods, ranging from rice, canned goods, noodles to karaoke and monoblock chairs. As early as 2007, during the first year of her term, Sara has been distributing medicines in Barangay Callawa in Buhangin District to prevent Filariasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
As if to match Sara�s �Gikan sa Masa,� Karlo Nograles� three minute-segment �Tatak K� on GMA TV�s lifestyle program �Istayl Nato� features Karlo�s visits to the barangays, distributing rice, notebooks, medicines, among other goods. The website karlonograles.com also features Karlo with the text, �tatak kalamboan� (mark of progress) and the logo of the House of Representatives in the background.
His homepage opens with a slideshow of his visits to the barangays, showing him distributing goods and medicines, with the song, �Kasama mo, sa hirap at ginhawa (Your friend, in good times and bad times)� in the background.
His name appears alongside his father�s on billboards of government projects although he defended this as a way of informing the people of the services delivered to them.
Christian Lloyd Espinoza, a political science student at the University of Mindanao, said doling out goods and cash to people by politicians only bolsters the patronage system in Philippine politics.
�It reinforces the usual practice of electing people to government positions based only on their personality,� said Espinoza, the editor-in-chief of Kartilya, the political students� school paper of the University of Mindanao. He also said that by introducing their names to potential voters this early, politicians merely want to trigger �name recall� so that voters will easily remember their names during election time.
He said that the culture of “utang na loob” (indebtedness) has been embedded deeply in the Filipino psyche that politicians are tapping into it by doling out items to potential voters. He said that in the guise of doing their official functions, politicians can already start introducing themselves to the people even before the official campaign period starts in February next year.
�The politicians have been employing creative means,� he said.
Under the Omnibus Election code, candidates running for the local posts can start their campaign 45 days before election time while candidates running for national posts start their campaign 45 days earlier than their local counterparts. (Grace S. Uddin/davaotoday.com)