My vote counts
Just when the Philippines is about to rise, it is afflicted by another ailment—the rule of political dynasties, where spouses, siblings, offspring and other family members take turns at government posts, effectively blocking democratic representation.
The Philippines is reported as steadily growing and has been predicted to become the world’s sixth largest economy in 30 years. But do the results of the May 13 elections back this rosy projection?
I did not vote on May 13. But does my vote even count? Every time I hear updates on the election results, I feel anger and shame. I can’t understand why our politics has become family enterprises.
I ask myself again: Does my vote still count? Will my vote make a change?
It’s said that for every 100 Filipino children who enter the first grade, only eight will go to college and, from those eight, only two will graduate with a degree. At a recent seminar that I attended in school titled “Why is the Philippines Still Poor?” a speaker attributed the prevailing poverty to a weak manufacturing sector. Developing the manufacturing sector will provide employment, and no industry means no employment. Thus, our graduates do not have a choice but to accept low-paying jobs—if there are any available—most of which are not even related to their field of study. They often end up working in call centers or fast-food chains. And what about the 98 who did not graduate?
Of the more than 52 million registered voters in the country, the majority are like the 98.
Of the winners in the midterm elections, from councilors up to senators, how many come from families with money, power and connections? How many of them have no capability for public office, but still run because they are confident of winning?
They still run because they know they’ll win. Because they can control the people. Because the people need them, not because of what they can do, but because of what they have.
And what about those candidates who are far more deserving but do not have the money, power and connections? Of course, they will never win.
I read news reports saying that vote-buying was very evident in the provinces. The price of a vote ranged from as low as P100 to as high as P3,500. In fact, there was even bidding! Some candidates offered jobs in the government. Sad but true, many Filipinos are more than happy to sell their votes for job opportunities or, worse, for P100.
But if this is what’s happening, does my vote still count? Do elections still have meaning?
The May 13 elections predict what will happen in the country in the next 50 years. How will we change it?
I’m 19 and I now understand. I’ve realized the role I and other youth have to play. If we young people unite with other sectors of society, we can spark change. Because we cannot be manipulated. We are the ones who can say no.
Change can be done in as fast as six years, or even three. But the problems of our country will not be solved even after half a century if the youth will not wake up. We may even miss being part of the emerging power bloc in the world, and miss out on the “Asian Century.”
PS: The answer to my question is yes. My vote counts.
Neille Gwen de la Cruz, 19, is taking Asian studies at the University of Santo Tomas. She says she is interested in promoting development in Asia, especially in the Philippines.
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