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Davao City, Philippines

Media exposure

July 09, 2019 - Tuesday 4:07 AM by Allan Nawal

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On Facebook, one user asked me if it is normal to announce what politicians have been doing – or more appropriately, does a politician need to make press releases of his accomplishment each time with actual photos of the events?

Some of them even confronted me by saying politicians should just work and not publicize each of the things they have done.

“They need not pose for pictures each time,” one of those who protested to my posts said.

I disagree with their views.

For one, it is the duty of every elected leader to inform his constituents about the things he had been doing, whether these are part of his actual work or not, such as social responsibility.

The purpose really is to make the people aware that the particular politician is working and has concern for the people.

Take for example Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.

During the campaign, he was accused of being “KSP” for taking opportunity of every event that could propel his candidacy. The man, whom we knew to be a natural giver, was also unfairly seen as a user to advance his interest.

But boy, the critics have been proven wrong.

Long after the elections, Go's PR continues to come as if he is still campaigning.

On one side, it proves to critics that what he did during the campaign, such as visiting unfortunate victims of calamities, was not just for show.

Just this Saturday, Go visited fire victims in Agdao and delivered them aid.

But must he pose for pictures with them?

Some people would disagree but to me, that is still part of informing the public of what he has been doing. There is nothing unusual about it.

In fact, if I were in Go's team, I would also be advising him to continue with his social responsibilities, write about the things he had done to ease the suffering of the people, and of course, take photos of him while comforting them.

Why? Because the people ought to know.

Once there was a politician who shunned photographers and shooed media away when he was visiting his constituents while delivering or spearheading the delivery of basic services.

He did that in the last three years of his term in office.

The people in his area started to complain that the politician had been scarce despite the fact that he, on an almost daily basis, was seen in the barangays.

The projects that he had put up while away from public view had not been noticed. The people would say he stopped being the usual politician they came to know because he was already on his last term. In short, he had changed.

The continued development that the people would see in the locality, such as concreting of a long forgotten road, or the almost daily visit of health workers to the puroks – which in the past did not happen – did not matter anymore. They wanted to know where the politician was and what he was up to. After all, their taxes go to his pay.

I had a chance to tell the politician that he should revert to what he used to do, tell the people what he had been doing by once more tapping the media. He declined. For him, it was not important to take credit for the things he was expected to do.

I argued and told him it is not necessarily that he takes the credit. What is important is to inform the people he was still working. He said “No” once more.

When his term ended, that politician ran but failed to win another position. The main issue against him was that he had done nothing in the past three years previous to the election.

“He would not even meet with victims of disasters,” one voter said.

The last comment was untrue, however.

When fire struck an area under his jurisdiction, the said politician was among the first to respond. He was seen directing people to go to the nearby gymnasium, where aid workers were waiting for them with provisions.

But the majority of his constituents never knew. He shunned journalists, telling them to just focus on the victims and their complaints.

The politician's experience would tell us that informing your constituents is important, not for publicity's sake but to make them aware that you are there, performing your job and your social responsibility.

The reality is that politics is a game of visibility. To be able to continue to serve, politicians should be in public view all the time.