Mind your head
IN A country marked by a Panem-esque political arena, will the odds be ever in the favor of the people?
Filipinos are again on the verge of choosing those who will govern the country and lead it toward the progress it deserves, progress that has been elusive for decades now. The voters’ choices will determine the interest and welfare of the Philippines for the next six years, as well as the years succeeding that period.
What makes the May 9 elections special to me is that it will be my first time to vote, like some of you. After patiently waiting for years, the time has come for me to exercise my power and right to choose the leaders I want. Earlier, I had been dreading reaching the age of 18 and going off to register as a voter. I had always thought that lucky were those who had the power to vote, for they had a great say in the election of our leaders and in the direction to which the country should head. But then I have watched in horror as election after election, that power is blatantly misused by most Filipinos.
When I was in high school, I personally witnessed a vote-buying scheme of a certain politician. A month before the elections, amounts in the hundreds of pesos were given to each household in our barangay. I watched in disappointment as people joyfully accepted the money without thinking twice. But then that’s just instant money, right?
Scrutinizing the scheme itself, one will ponder on the idea that the money given came from government funds, from taxpayer money! And that same money that bought the residents’ votes caused their misery for years. It makes sense: Selling your vote equates to the assurance of your grave situation for years, trapped in poverty under a corrupt government. This probably happens everywhere in our country, and it has become a common occurrence every election period.
But with every election that looms comes an opportunity and great chance to plant the seed of positive change for a stronger country, a stable government, and a soaring economy, by electing the right candidate as the head of our nation. With that said, evaluating and assessing the candidates (local and national) are highly significant steps. The most important position, of course, is the presidency, and electing the most qualified candidate is fundamental in the crusade for a progressive Philippines.
A common problem in the political system, most especially in voting, is the tendency of the electorate to hop onto the bandwagon, or to swim with the wave of popularity. Filipino voters tend to choose candidates on the assumption and premise of “winnability,” or who they think has the best shot at winning. This phenomenon thus ignores the most important factors in choosing the right candidate: his or her credentials, qualifications and concrete platform. The electorate should take these factors into consideration before choosing their candidates; their choice should be supported with the candidates’ stand on important issues concerning Philippine society.
Every voter is entitled to his or her own preferences on who to elect; practicing this right responsibly is primordial.
Governance platform, track record in public service, personality, and even red flags, are among the most important factors to consider before choosing your candidates. With your own research into the accomplishments and issues of each candidate, along with your own assessment and beliefs, the power to decide is yours to make.
Of course, for presidential candidates the biggest issues and controversies are often laid bare at the peak of the election campaign. Thus, the conscientious voter has the responsibility of examining and assessing specific claims and allegations against these candidates before making the choice.
There’s still a big chance for the Filipino electorate to prove its intelligence and maturity. Every voice matters, every vote counts. Hopefully, yours comes in good conscience.
We can always make the Philippines greater. We are not tributes in the game of politics. So mind your head.
Clyde Jayvy A. Villanueva, 19, is a mass communication student at San Pablo Colleges, where he is chief editor of Pages.
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