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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Forked road and the Catholic vote

It’s four days to go before the most important presidential election in our country’s post-Edsa revolution history. The country faces a fork in the road on Election Day.

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The fork in the road represents not only our choice of president between the top two contenders who are starkly different in many ways. An even more important aspect of this forked road is that it will present to us a choice between remaining as the same kind of people we currently are or redefining ourselves into the class of people that every nation dreams of its citizenry. Our next president will only have a shelf life of six years. But the kind of people we will choose to become come Election Day will have far-reaching implications for generations to come.This rare chance to redefine ourselves is the result of the very extraordinary events that have been happening in this election campaign. I’m not talking about all the “bardagulan” (squabbles), which have led to unending mudslinging, although the two types of people I’m referring to follow the division between supporters of Leni Robredo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos Jr. supporters want to elect their choice for president, and once enthroned, they will sit back and watch as Marcos Jr. works on his perceived bag of magics to make life better for the whole country. This outlook is evident from the posture of Marcos Jr. supporters in the campaign. They’re doing the minimum—attend rallies, hang his posters on their fences, and promote his candidacy on social media. They’ve not shown willingness, however, to spend their own money and devote time to actively campaign on the ground for Marcos Jr. For the longest time, this has been the trait of every Filipino voter. We heap all responsibilities on the president’s lap and expect him or her to perform miracles.

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On the other hand, Robredo supporters have broken out of the old mold of the passive Filipino voter. They have panned out all over the country, spending their own money and devoting considerable time to campaign house-to-house for Robredo. The kind of campaign they’re doing has become a well-spring of volunteerism, bayanihan spirit, generosity, and cheerfulness.

If Robredo becomes president, her supporters know that they will need to maintain the well-spring of volunteerism because Robredo needs all the help she can get. They know that Robredo cannot disappoint the people who didn’t vote for her and those who grudgingly voted for her because the band of politicians that she will have defeated will make a more virulent comeback next time. Everyone knows that a patient who gets cured from stage 4 cancer faces the grave danger of the cancer cells returning with a more aggressive strain.

A Robredo presidency will reignite empathy for the less fortunate, encourage altruism, and intensify a sense of nationalism. It will rekindle in the Filipino people the character traits that strengthen communal bonds. Robredo supporters have surely realized by now that widespread apathy and selfishness have brought our country to the precipice.

Because of the latest Pulse Asia survey results showing Marcos Jr. still leading by a huge margin, as well as his endorsement by a religious group that supposedly practices bloc voting, many Robredo supporters feel that our country is poised to jump into the abyss.

What a lot of people underestimate is the silent but compelling strength of the Catholic Church when it flexes its muscles and takes sides in an electoral contest, as it has essentially done in the coming elections. The Catholic Church does not obligate its faithful to follow bloc voting, but when it utters words of moral suasion, it will deliver a pivotally substantial number of its members (which comprise 80 percent of the population) to vote for the candidate who embodies its ideals. It has done so during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. versus Cory Aquino electoral contest, and it is poised to do so again in the coming elections.

Before voters head to the polls on Monday, the last words they will hear will be the Sunday sermon of indignant and outraged priests.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 elections, catholic vote, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Flea Market of Ideas, Leni Robredo
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