Thursday, January 18, 2007

Elections 101: Vote Wisely

Elections had been seen by many as an exercise in futility. Many have even stopped believing in the process. And more often that not, elections are considered by many to be a holiday or an opportunity to hold family reunions. We are at the crossroads of a country torn apart. While the administration and its allies consider a change of government system, most Filipinos see that there is a need for change but not overhauling the entire system. Elections is a means to effect genuine change.

We are now facing a new round of elections in May. With this in mind, I would like to share with you the criteria I always use when voting. Toots Ople was kind enough to share with me some points to consider which I incorporated in this post. I always think of the future and try to elect those who I think will give some realization to my expectations.

Even with a COMELEC wanting in credibility, we must see this election through. It is up to us, the electorate, to safeguard and protect the only democratic process which empowers us. Let us not give up on the only process where all Filipinos are equal.

But whether we like it or, we all have to vote come election day. To actively participate and be vigilant are ways to prevent cheating. Proper voter education and candidate information will help the electorate raise the bar of standards for those who will be running for public office. Many had done this in the past, but still we come up short of our expectations. We still see the old faces and new faces with "familiar" surnames. Though these are not always bad, we must make sure that they possess a high degree of values and conviction. We must avoid patronage and personality politics.

For those whose families have been in the "business of politics", we must review how they had performed in the past. They must somehow "fit" in the questions and criteria we have in mind. What is their stand on national and moral issues like: SOCIAL REFORM, EDUCATION, HEALTH and POPULATION GROWTH, ECONOMY, NATURAL RESOURCES, POVERTY and EMPLOYMENT and the INSURGENCY? And of course, we have consider their stand on the issues besetting the current dispensation.

Candidates must have to address these issues and must have a definite stand and conviction. Their hearts should be with the people's sentiments.

SOCIAL REFORM: stand on issues such as corruption, moral degradation, accountability and integrity in government, equal rights recognition, family strengthening, cultivation of values.

EDUCATION: stand on issues like funding, improvement of students and teachers welfare, upgrading of the education system and accessibility to competent education.

HEALTH: stand on public accessibility to proper medical attention, basic health coverage, protection for both patient and medical practitioner, affordability of medicine, dental care and disease prevention. Nutrition and food is also covered by this aspect, basic education for proper family planning and family management.

ECONOMY: economic platforms, employment generation, employment policies and programs, domestic and foreign investment generation, agricultural development, infrastructure, globalization and protection for local businesses.

There must be good natural resources management. Programs for rehabilitation for sustainable growth and resource replenishment for replaceable resources like our forests. The creation of sanctuaries to safeguard our flora and fauna which could lead to the development of eco-tourism. The mining industry regulation and resource distribution is to be enforced to assure the community of proper compensation.

POVERTY and EMPLOYMENT: This two are inseparable. Lack of equal opportunity and availability of jobs has led to the high occurrence of unemployment which leads to poverty. Small scale businesses/industries must be given priority. The government must give these SMEs full support with the financial backing as well. Loans must have low interest rates to afford the SME a balanced margin of profit that would sustain growth and expansion. At the moment, high interest rates often lead to SMEs folding up. The lowering of utility cost must be prioritized to allow productivity to grow and give the ordinary employees a value for their work.

INSURGENCY: Peace must be achieved at all cost through dialogue and genuine assistance. Reconciliation and adherence to treaties and agreements between the state and the insurgents. Legitimate complaints must be acted on in earnest. Follow-up and rehabilitation and re-integration programs for rebel-returnees. The distribution of ancestral land and its designation and recognition will ensure that culture and survival of the indigenous people will be protected.

Party affiliation plays an important role on how a public servant thinks. But a true servant must be independent as well. When moral issues such as the one besetting the present administration arise, we must look closely at how our public servant deals with the crisis. Would he take up party lines even if it sacrifices public perception and welfare?

Public servant as the title clearly states, one is suppose to work for the public. Public service is not a job but an advocacy which is chosen by an individual. Public service is not about fame and fortune but a sacrifice which an individual bears upon himself. Its not a business enterprise where one expects monetary remuneration. Let's not be taken in by sweet-talk and promises of a better life. When you see a candidate kissing and carrying babies, beware as these are merely for show to draw sympathy of parents. Another ploy Trapos employ is making themselves visible at every foundation day, fiestas, club and organization anniversary and religious rallies of the different faiths. Trapos develop their taste for mass media months before elections, taking every opportunity to give himself/herself maximum exposure. Even riding in PUVs have been utilized by these frauds to portray themselves as pro-poor. Still there are those who give handouts/dole-outs to the poor. A piece of chicken or ham is not worth throwing your future away. There are still some who spews out money like there is no tomorrow. For sure, this kind will start stealing from us the moment they get elected. So beware and be discerning in choosing your candidate whether for local or national seats. Integrity, principles, moral values and genuine intent to serve the people is what makes a good public servant.

We've witnessed how the present flock of politicians has tainted the halls of congress. We've also seen the greed for power in the eyes of our local officials. Let us not fall prey to sweet-talking "trapos" who suddenly contracts amnesia after getting your vote. To effect genuine change and honest governance, we must be wise in choosing the right person for the job. We must analyze and discern, we must ask more than just be content. We, the people are the guardians of true democracy. The buck stops with us. We must actively participate in the governance of our country. We are all duty bound to use our right to decide who is best to lead this nation. Elections is people empowerment, these politicians are at our mercy during elections. Our right to vote is enshrined in the constitution. Let us not be pawns to some maniac's thirst for power. So come election day, vote wisely and with conviction. Look beyond the name and face. Its your future that is at stake.

*Here are inputs from fellow bloggers:

Anna de Brux:
It will signal to the children of the baby boomer generation (for they are the the rightful heirs and replacement) that Pinas means business. You yourself said that things should be learned as early as possible. What better way than next year at the latest while the baby boomer kids are just getting into the political arena. The hemorrhaging has got to stop - moral, civic, political, financial hemorrhage. While I stop short of recommending a surgical solution, I do believe that the situation is so dramatic that people must not dilly-dally. The future of 2 generations, are at stake. The crop of current potential leaders (the age range of Cayetano and company) and the ones immediately below them. If Gloria is not stopped soon enough, she is capable of instituting a devastating legacy that can corrupt the generation still unborn…

schumey, sa tingin ko dapat umpisahan agad. sa paaralan pa lamang, turuan na. Ituro ang maganda (history ng mga bayani) at mahalaga, ipakita rin ang mga pangit at kabulukan - maaaring ipakita ang maganda at pangit na nangyari sa panahon ni marcos upang maihambing sa nagyayari sa kasalukuyan. Kawawang bansa! Lahat na lang ba kurakot? One advice to Philippine voters: Make sure the one you’re voting has no record of philandering or committing fornication and adultery! Iyan mga iyan ang matatakaw na magnakaw as a matter of fact because of a lot many mouths to feed!!!

I would encourage Filipinos to join political groups as a matter of fact. It is one way to get acquainted with these possible leaders and prospective candidates of good quality.

Schumey, yes the partylist candidates can be the better alternative. Kaya lang balita ko iyong SiRaulO Gunggonzales is running after the partylist leaders because he wants to take their place. May partylist din daw iyan. Is that true?
So, the best solution is to get rid of graft and corruption by knowing the Constitution by heart, and demanding for one’s rights and privileges by all means, and getting rid of these crooks ordering killings of critics of the Bansot and dissidents so the ordinary Filipinos can be freely and effectively taught of their rights and privileges and how to demand for them.

Yuko adds:
Point is that even now, Filipinos have the tendency to depend on anyone who can save them. Mga Pilipino nga dito ang daming tinutulungan sa bansa nila. Lahat nakasabit sa kanila. Parasitic mind. Alam nilang masama pero walang ginagawa. Training lang naman and proper indoctrination. Ang masama kasi iyong mga may nalalaman hindi makapagturo ng tama dahil ipapapatay.

at napatunayang hindi malikot sa lahat ng bagay.

Schumey: may i add to Cory's: requirement: yung may puso para sa kapakanan ng bayan at hindi sa kaban ng bayan; yung may isip para sa mamamayan, hindi para sa pagpapayaman, yung may alab na maglingkod kahit pa mahuli ang sariling kapakanan o batikusin man, lahat ng yan upang mapalitan lang ang kaisipan ng nakararami na politiko man ay may kaluluwa parin umunawa at magpakatao.

Special thanks to Ms. Susan "Toots" Ople for her inputs.