'Move on,' don't blame 'bobotante' for election results – experts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — Poor and uneducated Filipino voters, often called "bobotante," should not be blamed for the results of the recently-concluded midterm elections, experts said Thursday.——

Some are dismayed with the unofficial results of the polls, particularly that of the senatorial race dominated by candidates backed by President Rodrigo Duterte and that include candidates accused of plunder.

READ: Duterte allies dominate Senate in tail end of unofficial vote count

Many pin the blame on bobotante, a portmanteau of the Filipino words “bobo” (stupid) and “botante" (voter) often used to describe those who voted for incompetent candidates and directed towards the masses and uneducated voters.

For sociologist Jayeel Cornelio, blaming these voters is "problematic."

"'Pag naririrnig natin yung bobotante na accusation, parang it's the woke middle class accusing the bobo, parang low-income families, low-income voters. Pero sino ba talaga 'yun? Bakit natin nasasabi na bobo sila? Just because they voted for a different set of candidates?" Cornelio told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

[Translation: When we hear the accusation that people are bobotante, it's like the woke, middle-class accusing low-income earners. But who are these voters really? Why are they called stupid?]

"Even the poor have their own rationalities and justification in choosing their candidates... maling mali 'yung bobotante (calling people bobotante is wrong)," he added.

Cornelio added that calling poor and uneducated voters as such "backfires not just on people who say na bobo sila (that they are stupid), but also on the very candidates that they are supposedly representing."

Meanwhile, political analyst Dindo Manhit said people who blame those voters have no basis for doing so, since the winning senatorial candidates won in all social classes.

"It's a reflection of what their needs are and what they hope the government can do for them," Manhit said during the program.

"At the end of the day, election is a democracy... You should not blame them because these are people who made their choices because some candidates address their needs, instead of other candidates who might intellectualize and force them to accept their belief," he added.

'Move on'

Manhit said those who are against the election results should already "move on" and instead press the winners to deliver.

"I think we have a legitimate election, we might not like those who won. The challenge now is to put pressure on those who won in the legislature and the local government unit," he said.

Cornelio, meanwhile, said losing candidates should reflect on what went wrong with their bids.

"They should reflect ano ba 'yung message na hindi nag-work... bakit 'yung mga kandidato na merong record ng mga kaso, 'yung mga kandidato na sumayaw lang, sila pa yung nananalo?" Cornelio said.

[Translation: They should reflect on what message did not work, why those candidates who have charges in the record and just dance are the ones who won.]

"Maybe because what they're saying doesn't resonate with the people. And it all boils down not just to the messaging, but to what they're going to do in the next three years," he added.