Monday, May 10, 2010

Integrity in Elections

Oftentimes we critique the politicians for being corrupt, for having no integrity, for cheating their way to win and stealing money. This is bread-and-butter criticism for Philippine politics.

But every few years we get the chance to do something about it. We get the chance to participate in our elections and choose leaders. Some of us exercise our rights to do this - all well and good. Others don't. But beyond just voting, there are many who are even more involved in the electoral system.

These are the people who sit there, tally the votes, service the machines, who work with the government, Comelec or the many organizations who do the actual, ground-level work of putting the votes together or monitoring it. These people have their opinions and votes as well, many of them passionate about their choices and opinions regarding their candidates.

It occurred to me then, as I listen to various rumors, reports, comments from the radio, over text, the TV, the internet and other mediums - news of threats, strong-arm tactics, intimidation, sabotage, cheating and so many other things, that these very people who are on the field and going about are responsible for such operations.

You can always point upwards and say, 'So and so is corrupt' and blame a particular figure. But what if you're the actual man or woman on the spot, if you're right there at ground-zero - able to influence a move, an action, or operation to do things which ruin the votes of people who have happened to vote AGAINST your candidate?

Would you cheat, sabotage, or otherwise compromise and interfere with the votes of other people to make your own candidate win?

This is the question that I wonder about - and I fear that some people might not even ask themselves when they happen to be part of the system.

Or even worse, that they're aware that what they're doing is against the law - both that of the land and of ethical/moral law, and they persist in it. These are people who knowingly support a person who is of inadequate competence and character, and act in a way to prop him or her up with underhanded means.

We cannot only blame those up in power - because the corrupt only can attain their position because of the actions of the machinery that supports and allows them to attain such a position.

The question of integrity falls not to just our leaders, who in a time like our elections are forced to respect the numbers coming from the polls, but to all of us who are down there, casting our votes and those who should make sure that our votes are tallied properly, fairly and honestly.

God help the Philippines. We need it, each and every citizen.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pro-Active Citizentry

Today is May 10, 2010, and it is the first time I have voted.

I felt a bit strange going there, dressed up with a shirt saying (in Bisaya/Cebuano) 'My Vote is Sacred, Don't Buy Me.' but as my family was all in such an attire I went along with it.

The whole election thing felt rather distant until recently, and even today I felt a certain disconnect between myself and the whole political system. But as I sat down and started marking my candidates on that sheet I couldn't help but feel a faint nervous energy running through me.

I was thinking, 'This is it. I'm actually voting. I'm actually a part of the process that could help determine where our country, from the nation as a whole down to our baranggays, could be directed for the next few years." It was a realization that made me feel a little bit empowered. It felt good.

Then other thoughts intruded - I also realized that amidst all this, there were so many factors at play to cheat or twist the system. It angered me somewhat, deep inside, that this sort of thing was happening. All these sort of actions undermined basic human respect for other people and subverted the ideas of freedom and free will.

I could only pray that the people of this country, its citizens, could vote - regardless of whom they voted for, that they were able to exercise their legal, God-given right. We may not have a system that works too well, but at the end of the day we have done our part.

To those who refused to vote, I can only say this, "If we don't love this country, who else will?"

"John Gaisano III, Cluster 58, #47, PN-0228A."