(Insights of PN journalists covering #MagkalaamanNa2022)

This year’s elections have dramatically and drastically changed everything, most particularly the voters’ perspectives of the candidates they are supporting.

The digital age has been both a boon and a bane; it has been used to spread information and misinformation, the latter of which seems to be getting the better of the former.

Supporters of the two survey-leading presidential candidates have come far and beyond their selves to the point of being fanatics about the candidates they are supporting, throwing below-the-belt tirades not only against the candidate but at the supporters as well, and calling them names.

Campaign sorties and rallies have also changed from the usual town hall meetings and plaza gatherings to not-so-hidden campaign headquarters where only supporters who are included in a “list” are allowed access, in exchange for monetary considerations.

And while elections are still a few days away, some candidates are already putting it in the minds of their supporters that the only way they could lose is if their opponents rig the polls.

We can only hope and pray that the elections will be orderly and peaceful and that the result will be according to the will of the people, for the best of our country. — Gerald Ticke

Election season can be both frightening and hopeful. This coverage is important to me as this is the second election I have to cover and the first for the presidential and vice-presidential races. This election’s coverage is not only competing with other media outlets, but it is also competing with the trend of social media and the speed of misinformation online.

Covering sorties, political rallies, and candidate press conferences are all events that put my call to deliver accurate information to the forefront, which will help locals choose their candidates. Even when those events are discussing principles that are diametrically opposed to mine.

Suppressing my biases as a member of the media is also a challenge for me. It’s also a question of how I can practice my profession of correcting misinformation and disinformation without showing my political leanings.

Most netizens are aggressive and would virtually kill you.

I hope that this election will be peaceful, and that no one will have to risk their lives to vote on May 9. — Rachel Ganancial

Just two years ago, I was trying to carve out a life for myself amidst the pandemic. While doing that, I struggled to gain footing as a journalist for Palawan News. I had no solid reporting experience nor education under my belt, but I was determined to prove my mettle.

Fast forward to this election season – it hasn’t been just a professional struggle, but a personal one as well. What I thought was just going to be our country going through the motions turned out to be an all-out assault on the senses. My relationship with my job, the people I work with, and the people in my life changed forever, and nothing will ever be the same even after this is long over.

Observing the messianic power some politicians had over ordinary folk shook me to my core. I see now why our country is so religious – because there is so much poverty, so much desire to secure even the most basic of needs. Our country is so sick that people will blindly worship anyone who gives the bare minimum. It breaks me to think that this is a grim reality my generation will have to live through if we choose the wrong candidate.

I think social media has made this election season more intense for everyone, whether it’s people sharing content about their love for their candidate, or the “bardagulan” in the comment section. Suddenly, I feel like an old person when I find myself thinking, “Things were much simpler in the good old days…” Back then, journalists only had to worry about their safety while on the field, not about online attacks, disinformation and lies that are so rampant on the Internet.

The cliché is true too. This season really did bring out the best and worst of our countrymen. It brought out the volunteers, the donation drives, and the mass gatherings that defied fears of COVID-19. But it also brought out the vileness, the fanaticism, hypocrisy, and the disinformation-fueled hate thanks to armies of online trolls.

As a journalist, this will be the first and probably last time I cover a presidential election. I truly and sincerely hope that this will be the last time our country has to make the choice between slipping into an eternal quagmire of corruption and poverty and securing a glimmer of hope for good governance. — Patricia Laririt

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