Andromeda’s Vortex

Promises and Women in politics

By Atty. Farah G. Decano


“WOMEN tend to fulfill their campaign promises.”

A local newspaper reported that this was the initial findings of Jonathan Homola of the Rice University in Texas after he conducted a study of politics in twelve (12) western countries. Allegedly, he made use of a tool that was designed to evaluate election pledges and the ability of leaders to deliver on them.

“Vote for women – they may be more likely to keep campaign promises, says study.”  This was the title of the news.  Interesting.  This leaves me to question: was this the conclusion of the researcher, or the extrapolation of the broadsheet’s writer?  The story on the Texas investigation was too truncated that it leaves more questions in my mind than just the feeling of elation from the narrative that the members of my sex are considered promise fulfillers.

I cannot help but juxtapose Homola’s study with an article by Thomson, et. al. published by the American Journal of Political Science in January, 2018. It found that the sharing of power largely affects the capacity of governments to fulfill their pledges. Those parties holding executive positions are more likely to deliver on their electoral promises.  It also said that presidential forms of government constrain the holder of the highest position to achieve his/her campaign promises than their counterparts in parliament.

If I were the broadsheet reporter of Homola’s research, I would have looked for the answers to two questions:  1) What is it about these women from twelve countries that enabled them to stick with their commitments; and 2) What influence do established institutions and practices have on these women’s ability?

That women politicians are more likely to realize their campaign promises – could we say the same thing about the women leaders in our country?  I could remember promises by two women: one fulfilled and one broken.

The most remembered broken promise by a woman politician, to my mind, was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s vow not to run for President in 2004.  This was not a campaign pledge though. It was a December 2002 statement to calm the restlessness of the fragile coalitions in her administration.

The observance of freedom of expression committed by President Corazon Aquino’s administration is better appreciated now because of the present administration’s seeming uneasiness to its critics. Though President Aquino somehow betrayed her call for tolerance in favor of liberty of speech by filing libel charges against columnist, Louie Beltran, her criminal complaint did not result in any chilling effect.   “Chilling effect” was defined by Atty. Alfredo Molo during the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law, as the pause or hesitation in the speaker’s mind. Nowadays, who does not experience this slight of a tremble in expressing sentiments against the present dispensation? Remember the several cases filed against vocal anti-Duterte critics: politicians, lawyers and bishops and the incarceration of some rallyists on the pretext of violation of social distancing rules?

I wish there was a study about Filipina politicians and their electoral promises.  If, indeed, Filipina leaders deliver on their promises better, we should use this research to enable their male counterpart to do the same. The progress of the country, after all, is not about which sex serves better but about how the sexes cooperate.

Contrary to the broadsheet reporter’s suggestion, I will not vote solely on the basis of sex.

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