On May 9, 2016, millions of Filipinos will head to the polls to vote for our next president, vice-president, 12 senators, and other public positions, totaling 18,069 posts up for grabs. Millions of qualified voters, many of whom maybe cramming to get their biometrics registered, are staking the direction of our nation to a select few. The up and coming candidates are hoping to be elected or re-elected and presumably stand for something. All of them would claim to be the right choice.
But in a political environment where one’s leanings or political values are optional to vie for public office, voting requisites a measure of blind trust. It’s an exercise akin to riding an airplane, with the option of choosing your pilot. In this case though, the destination is unknown and the journey will take longer than a few hours. There was a time the Filipino people had a man at the helm for 20 years.
Beginning tomorrow, October 12 and probably right before midnight of the 16th, the names and faces of those running for office will be filing their Certificate of Candidacy at the Commission of Elections (COMELEC). As the Philippine Star reported, the government agency is prepared for the “COC Fiesta.” And since we’re also voting for the topmost post in the realm of public service, they who are hoping to occupy the seat have made their intentions known. Here’s a rundown:
We have an embattled Vice-President who’s drowning in graft allegations: A former human rights lawyer who received his political break in the 1980s through an appointment, and used his supposedly temporary post as officer-in-charge of the nation’s wealthiest city to attain perpetual political stardom. He has since generously shared the spotlight and social capital to his three children, all of whom are holding an elected post (though one was recently dismissed as mayor). We have a political neophyte whose maiden name is endowed with favor from the masses, thanks to her renowned father Filipinos revere as a legendary actor and cultural icon. We have a former interior secretary, blessed with a multi-generation political pedigree and the President’s endorsement. He’s the hopeful heir to a political platform praised for policies that led to a healthier macroeconomic reality for the country. Although the intended spillover effects of this economic growth is seemingly stuck somewhere, similar to what happens to MRT when the carts decide to rest in-between stations. And allegedly, we will have an authoritarian from the South (still undecided at the time of this writing according to reports), who earlier declared he had zero intentions to run, but would seemingly capitulate to the pleas of his supporters. Though Davao’s longest-sitting Mayor never had any national post prior, he’s a formidable candidate expected to carry overwhelming support in vote-rich Mindanao.
As of now, they are our options for president, plus probably a few nuisance candidates whose mental state we will never (dare) to decipher. They are the select few whose promises they hope we will take at face value, whose real intentions will never be clear to us, and whose outstanding performance on the job as certain as a traffic-free EDSA on weekdays at 5 p.m.
One of them will be the recipient of your vote and mine, and whether we like it or not, once he or she is in-charge, has the power to shift our destiny as a people.
A leading management consultant and renowned turnaround specialist explained, that when taking over a floundering enterprise, the first thing his company does is fire the CEO. The persistent truth is: If a company is downhill, the leader must always be held responsible. A quick view of the African political landscape highlights how the (destructive) power of the No. 1 national leader of a country affected the destinies of their nations. “Of the world’s 30 dictators who have most successfully held onto power, 14 are in Africa,” reports the Africa-focused publication AFK Insider. Many of these despots have been clinging on to their seats for at least 30 years, have plundered their government, and decapitated (in less than figurative terms) the hopes of their people. It’s a tragic scenario fueled by the fact that their citizens cannot freely vote and choose their most senior representative.
It’s why in a democracy like ours, the right to vote must still be valued regardless of our present state or your notions about the available candidates. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the premium responsibility attach to this right. Casting our ballots maybe a virtual gamble; the result and effect of our choice unknown. But we must believe anyway that we can elect someone who can bring us to a decent destination, that the pilot-in-charge will land the craft to a better place. Though making a choice carries with it risks, it’s a a risk worth taking.