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To vote or not to vote

09:02 AM May 08, 2019

I made an “informal” survey through freewheeling face-to-face conversations or over-the-phone chats to ask friends, neighbors, acquaintances, owners or vendors of commercial establishments, deliverymen and so on what they think of the coming elections, or if they will cast their vote.

Some from high school who are now abroad asked me who to vote for. The others said they will not vote. A couple said one reason they migrated abroad is the broken promises of politicians. They have children to feed and send to school, and would not be able to do so working here. “The politicians do not help uplift the economic condition of the needy Filipinos. They are for themselves only,” they said.

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Another pointed out: “The candidates, newcomers or ‘trapos’ (traditional politicians), come to your house, shake hands with every family member, even the house help, and play with your pet dog. Once they win, you will pass through several layers of ‘protocol’ to reach them.”

The others noted that way before the official campaign period, candidates’ posters were already all over, on the trees, street lampposts, electric and cable wires. Name the occasion Christmas, New Year, the graduation of students and these politicians are ready with tarps bearing their photos with their spouses or other family members who would be the next candidate when their term is over. These politicians are cheating but no one has been jailed, was a common observation.

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A newspaper deliveryman said politicians always say they are for the poor but, once elected, you will hardly see them with the poor but often with moneyed people in big hotels. They will again remember the poor when the next election is near.

Exorbitant taxes are the main beef of small businessmen, while mothers reel from the high prices of food and basic commodities. It s very hard to live now in our country when you are feeding a family, said one.

Topping the issues we discussed was that of political dynasties. All the people I talked with hate the ongoing political circus. Or as one put it: Sila-sila na lang! Wala na bang ibang tao na puwedeng mamuno? (It s always just them. Is there no one else who can lead us?) They control everything when they are in power.

Because the election is bourgeois politics, only the moneyed are qualified to run for an elective position. Those with no money to sustain their campaign are declared nuisance candidates. Ask the Commission on Elections.

There are perceived principled and good people now running, especially for the national positions, but some of my interviewees are still skeptical. There were good candidates then who made it but showed indifference once in power, they said.

Party lists, except for a few, are not true representatives of the marginalized, because rich businessmen and politicians are backing these groups. Will they speak for the interest of the farmers, workers, lowly employees, fisherfolk, indigenous people, those in the hinterlands who have only root crops to feed on and whose children have to cross rivers and mountains to reach school, with hardly anything in their stomachs? Also the homeless and jobless, the unjustly accused languishing in jails, the sick who cannot afford to go to hospitals, and many more such disadvantaged people?

The debates sponsored by television networks have somehow helped inform the voters about the candidates and their advocacies, especially those running for the national positions. The opposition candidates are active in gracing these forums, but most of the administration candidates have evaded and dismissed the debates as a waste of time. They will just go directly to the people, they said.

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Veteran and novice trapos, when they face the people, are full of promises; they willingly sing, dance or hire female sexy dancers to gyrate before the crowds just so their names will be remembered. Such a campaign is a disservice and a disrespect to the electorate.

And in every election we ve had, whether local or national, there is hardly any statement on the issue of the environment, such as rampant logging, mining, garbage dumping, global warming, climate change and extreme weather conditions, except perhaps from one or two candidates. Most others mount expensive caravans and brave the scorching, exhausting heat in their sorties, but are mum about the root of these problems.

I am seriously deciding if I will vote on Election Day.

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Joey C. Papa ([email protected]) is president of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, choosing candidates, Inquirer Commentary, Joey C. Papa, politicians
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