Of course there is hope
If, like me, you are unhappy with most of the names appearing among the top 12 in the senatorial surveys, we need only remind ourselves that surveys have been inaccurate even in countries with the most sophisticated predictive tools and models. Wasn’t Hillary Clinton surely going to be the next president of the United States based on their pre-election surveys?
So if you’re not voting on May 13th because your preferred candidates are lagging in the surveys, think again! Not only should we all vote, we should do all we can to encourage like-minded friends and relatives to go out and vote as well. And if enough of us turn out, we can pull off a great surprise.
Various sources including the World Economic Forum tell us that rather than surveys, social media “buzz” may be a better indicator of voting intentions. Consider the surge of Chel Diokno. When he started his campaign, Diokno had zero followers on social media. Now he is ranked fourth in popularity, being one of the candidates that netizens mention and interact with the most, with his posts getting shared the most. And, almost unheard of for a political candidate, 91 percent of posts about Diokno are positive!
It should therefore be no surprise that Diokno consistently tops mock Senate elections in schools and universities, placing first in Ateneo de Manila, UP Manila, UP Los Baños, UP Baguio, UP Visayas, UST College of Accountancy, University of San Carlos Law School, Wesleyan University, and second in UP Diliman and PNU, and third in PUP Manila, among others. Other Otso Diretso candidates also consistently do very well in school mock elections.
Perhaps the surveys do not sufficiently reflect the fact that of 61 million expected voters in 2019, as many as 20 million are young voters between 18 and 35 years old. Imagine, then, the possibilities if young voters come out in massive numbers on May 13th! The challenge, then, is to bring out the youth vote, aggressively using social media and waging personal campaigns in schools, malls, churches and places of work. And there is no time to waste!
But why should we care so much about who our senators will be? My simple answer is that the Senate is the last remaining major institution in our political system that can still provide a healthy check and balance on the executive department, which has already amassed overwhelming control of the judicial branch and of the lower house of Congress. If we believe that fundamental issues like federalism, the lifting of term limits on elected officials, a shift to a parliamentary system, the enforcement of our rights in the West Philippine Sea, the direction of our international relations and treaties, and the curtailment of political dynasties require thorough consultations, discussion and analysis, then we need intelligent, competent and principled leaders in the Senate who will vote on issues based on their convictions on what best serve our country and our people. The stakes are extremely high, as the Senate’s future actions on these issues will have a profound impact on the future of our democracy and our country.
Are there such candidates? Surely there are those who stand out as principled, intelligent and independent, and in my view the Otso Diretso group—plus two distinguished and experienced legislators—best fit the bill. Let me suggest a modified acronym as a memory peg: MATH GRAD PO. Macalintal, Alejano, Tañada, Hilbay, Gutoc, Roxas, Aquino, Diokno, Poe and Osmeña. I ask you to consider them as men and women who will be true public servants. Replace them if you wish, if you are convinced your choices will better serve our people.
Let me end by recalling an old story. There were two workers in a construction site. A passerby asked both what they were doing. The older one said he was laying bricks one on top of another. The younger worker’s eyes lit up then replied, I am building a cathedral! Let us hope we can rouse our young voters to rise to the challenge and start building their cathedral, the Philippines as a nation of peace, harmony and justice, where the rule of law prevails for all.
Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. ([email protected] gmail.com) is a trustee of the Makati Business Club.
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club.
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