Something’s Fishy with Kabataan Party List’s Petition

Earlier this afternoon, Kabataan Partylist filed a petition to the Supreme Court asking to compel COMELEC to move the voter’s registration deadline from October 31 to January 12, 2013. They argued that RA 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act specifically said that voter’s registration should be done daily, in office hours, except “during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election. (Sec 8)” Further, they quoted the 2009 SC decision penned by Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, and favored Kabataan Party List in a same petition they filed three years ago.

Well, Kabataan PL can argue that they are just protecting Constitutional Rights and the Sanctity of Suffrage. I would not argue about the merits of their petition nor comment about the SC decision mainly because I am not a lawyer. However, as a marketing and PR strategist, I can smell publicity stunts when I see one.

Voter’s Registration only until today
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes and the Comelec is very firm that registration is only until 5PM, today. Thousands registrants flocked to their respective Comelec offices in order to register. Comelec offices implemented a 3PM cut-off in order to accommodate the number of the registrants. Some who had not been able to register expressed dismay over their failure to register. Some even blamed COMELEC’s “inefficiency” in conducting registrations.

But can we actually blame COMELEC? With all fairness to them, they were very eager to remind everyone to register before the deadline. I, for one, feel guilty since I just registered few hours ago, nevertheless, COMELEC has given enough time for everyone to register so that people can practice their rights.

Timing Questionable
What strikes me about this petition is the timing. Why file this petition now when they know for a fact that Supreme Court already decided on this matter? Why file the same petition when a similar was filed and decided upon three years ago? Logic, and my nosy intuition, leads me to think that this filing of petition must be a publicity stunt.

In marketing and public relations, everything needs to be timed and everything needs to be performed at a specific schedule. For example, we, social media strategists, leverage the data given to us by our tools in determining when a post could stir the most impact. Psychology tells us about Recency and Primacy Effects— most of the times, the things a person remembers the most are the extremes in the timeline, the firsts and the lasts. So if you want to have an impact, either you fight your way to be the first on the line or make an impression at the conclusion of the events. That is the almost-central dogma of the industry and it seems like Kabataan PL’s PR team knows this stuff.

Publicity for publicity’s sake
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this kind of stunt, however, one cannot blame voters feeling uncomfortable with such. The problem seems to toe into the lines of leveraging a constitutional right to favor publicity strategies. Again, nothing may be wrong with that but then again politicians and political groups should know well enough that voters are quite smarter than ever especially in the era of social media. Primacy and Recency Effects aside, this particular clamor could have been done long before the deadline of registration. Had they filed this petition on, let’s say, January, the petition may just be a little fishy than what it is right now.

The time for political publicity is gradually, and luckily, losing grip on the minds of the voters. Voters now know when something is politically motivated or not. Personal or collective political agenda are now under a very very strict scrutiny. Again, politicians and political group should know better. As Kant said, we may not be able to prove that this is politically motivated but when we feel one, we know it is motivated by an agenda.