By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.
So, you lost in the barangay elections. What’s next?
“It is failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen Degeneres
The Philippines’ Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections 2023 edition is over and the winners with no pending cases have been proclaimed. Unfortunately, as in all contests, there are always those who lose. This is for all the losing candidates and their campaign teams in all the positions contested during the polls.
What does one do when one loses an electoral contest? Understandably, after months of campaigning, losing will sting a lot. There is a tendency to be angry or depressed and just cut off oneself from the world. This would be a mistake as there are many things you must do especially if you the losing candidate wish to run for an elective position again.
If you have evidence: a) to disqualify your opponent; b) of election law violation; c) of fraud or; d) misappreciation of the written votes that would affect the total tally, then by all means exercise your legal rights and file an electoral case or any other speedier remedy. This is a time-bound action and you need to do this immediately. This will of course entail expenses such as legal fees and the cost of hiring a good election lawyer.
For those of you who have conceded this contest and accepted your loss, there are still things that you must do before you take a break.
First of all, you have to take care of your obligations. One of the normal mistakes of losing candidates is forgetting to fully pay their watchers the agreed allowance and the other accounts payables such as food, rent, and other operating expenses. It is understandable that due to the pain of defeat, you might fail to remember to settle these things. If these obligations remain unpaid for a long time, they might become an issue if you decide to run again. Nobody likes a deadbeat candidate or one with issues of avoiding obligations.
Second, you must thank all your staff, supporters, and family, either personally or through messages. Sometimes, losing candidates become instant hermits and suddenly lose contact with everyone who participated in your campaign. You must remember your campaign team, supporters and even your family spent some time, effort and even money to help you in your campaign. Sometimes they are even more emotional than you. As such, you must reach out to them because you are their leader and they need you more at this time. People who want to run again often forget this basic post-election action. You do not want your supporters to feel abandoned. You will need them again.
Third, you must organize and keep your data. You need to get copies of the statement of votes (SOV) and summarize the vote tallies of all the main candidates. You will need to map out where you got your votes and where you did not fare well. This will help you if you want to run again or help someone else run. You also have to organize your expense receipts in preparation for your statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE).
Fourth, in connection with your expense data you must fulfill your post-election legal obligations and requirements. Primary among these requirements is your SOCE. Please ask the assistance of professionals in the preparation and filing of your SOCE. Remember both winners and losers need to file your respective SOCE on Nov. 29, 2023. Failure to file your SOCE can result in negative legal consequences even for the losing candidate.
Finally, after having dealt with the foregoing, you can now deal with the emotional repercussions of losing an election. Psychologists have different opinions on how to handle this loss. However, many agree that the first thing you do is accept the fact and move forward. In accepting the fact, you must be able to name your feelings, limit your social media exposure, stop commiserating and discussing negative emotions with others, stop arguing, and do the things that relax you. After doing the foregoing, then you can go on a temporary and short-time hermit mode.
The future - When you have recovered, then and only then, do you think of the future. Do you run again and prepare? If it’s your first or second loss, then this can be a possibility. You can consult professional political experts to analyze your loss and plan accordingly. If it’s your third or more loss, then chances are politics is not your cup of tea. Perhaps, it is time to shift your focus. If you want to help others, you can always do this as a private citizen.
This is my oblique observation
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.
About the Columnist
ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.