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The Filipino people deserve the best

There are 62 senatorial candidates from which we are to choose 12. How does the Commission on Elections (Comelec) expect the Filipino voter to do that, in any rational manner?

First, all it said was that these candidates were qualified, but did not provide us with enough data on them to help us make a wise choice, leaving it up to the candidates to make themselves known—which in this day and age means the moneyed candidates have a distinct advantage over the rest. Shouldn’t the Comelec have helped level the playing field?

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The least that the Comelec could have done (which it can do even now, nine days before the elections) was ask for or bought airtime to introduce the 62 candidates. They could have been given two minutes each to introduce themselves and what they intend to do while in the Senate.

At least, we would have seen and heard all of them, which is much better than going to the polls completely ignorant of at least half of the candidates. There may have been a diamond there, who knows?

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Then, the Comelec could have gone ahead with a series of debates among the candidates, to again allow the voters more insights into them, in a neutral environment. The broadcast media have done their stuff and should be congratulated, but did you notice, Reader, that certain candidates did not show up at these televised media debates? One can only conclude, considering airtime is so expensive, that it is because they were afraid they would be shown up for what they are—empty-headed (if they are first-timers), or nonperformers (if they are running for reelection).

How are voters expected to vote wisely, if they lack even the most basic information and are bombarded with paid ads of the moneyed candidates in their most favorable light, and which cannot be effectively contested?

But never fear. There are groups of voters who have banded together to solve the problem. There is the Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership, which has come up with a “Gabay Kristo” set of criteria for choosing wisely the candidates, and then have a People’s Choice Movement to help voters choose. Alex Lacson and Ricky Xavier are major players here.

If you, Reader, haven’t had time to assess the candidates, they have. Something like 135 representatives of faith-based organizations got together and discerned who of the 62 candidates fulfilled the “Gabay Kristo” criteria—and the best 12 included the so-called Otso Diretso, plus Grace Poe, Neri Colmenares, Serge Osmeña and Ka Leody de Guzman. Their homepage says that they are voting for public servants, not selecting kings.

Note that only Grace Poe, Bam Aquino (of Otso) and Serge Osmeña are in the top 12 of the Pulse Asia Senatorial Survey—Grace in second position, and Bam and Serge in the 10th-14th position. The other Otso Diretso candidates are anywhere from the 10th-16th positions to the 29th-43rd positions, and De Guzman is in the 32nd-52nd position.

Still, the People’s Choice Movement is not fazed. They will campaign for the best candidates, and hope thinking Filipinos will vote accordingly.

Then there is the Movement for Good Governance (of which I was titular head), which did not come out with a list of who to vote for, but rather general guidelines for who NOT to vote for. Its advice: do not vote for “kurakot,” for “walang alam” and “sipsip na, tuta pa.” Put positively, the Movement asks us to vote for the “marangal, mahusay, at hindi sinungaling.” We deserve the best, it reminds us.

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Well, Reader, I applied the Movement’s negative list to the candidates myself. I added only one more criterion to the three: I excluded members of dynasties, which means that more than one member of the family was seeking an elective position—but this may be unnecessary, because dynasties, among others, are either kurakot, or walang alam, or sipsip.

Anyway, the result was with a list remarkably similar to what was chosen by the People’s Choice Movement.

This, of course, is very different from Pulse Asia’s results, but I hope that between now and May 13, the Filipino people realize that they do deserve the best, and the best is not necessarily the celebrities or the biggest spenders.

[email protected]

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TAGS: candidates, Comelec, Elections, Filipino, Get Real, Otso Diretso, People's Choice Movement, senator, senatorial, voter, winnie monsod
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