Everything leading up to the elections

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

It’s impossible to hear any news these days and not think about the impact it is going to have on the future of the Philippines. This is because with the elections drawing near, everything that happens from now until 2022 will have a bearing on which way people vote and who will wind up helming the country for the next six years.

It’s almost surreal to think we have already reached this point where potential change is tangible. A lot of people have been talking about it for a while, and now the time has come to either put up or shut up. We might be faced with the current administration’s continuation of power or we might end up with someone new. Either way, politicians know that right now every move they make is being watched.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around too. When the vaccination orders got delayed earlier this year people felt that perhaps the government was shuffling its feet on getting the vaccination program going so that it would be able to leverage vaccination program success in the coming elections.

In that theory, there was still a successful rollout and people were able to get vaccinated. The less positive side of the vaccine conspiracy theory was that vaccination was being delayed so there would be fewer people able to come out and vote in person next year. At this point, we aren’t as equipped as the US to handle mail-in ballots.

In the end, it was all speculation. But that’s what happens during a pandemic when people are forced to stay home. They end up with time to think of things and as many often say, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”. I’m just grateful that now the vaccination program is in full swing, and hopefully, more and more people get vaccinated so that we can slowly return to some form of “better normal” in the months ahead.

Many other countries, including some of our neighbors, have been very aggressive with their vaccination programs and are seeing good results. Restrictions have been lessened in the United States and many states are going back to business as usual. The UK had predicted foregoing all restrictions by this month as well.

How long will it take for the Philippines to be able to do the same? Only time will tell, but it looks like it will still be a while. We had a slow start and several of our provincial programs are still slow-moving, but at least in NCR, the vaccinations seem to be increasing at a steady rate. I hope we can keep this pace up. We also need to release more information and help educate those who are still on the fence. As they say with vaccinations, we won’t be fully protected until we are all protected.

After the vaccination impacting the elections theories died down, we lost a past president whose family name has become synonymous with politics. As we paid our last respects to former president Benigno Aquino III or “Noynoy” as he was more commonly known, the conversation couldn’t help but turn into one that wondered if his passing would serve as a catalyst for the upcoming elections. Would his death propel another family member into office? It certainly did spark some interesting conversations.

Every bit of news is somehow connected or leading up to the big decision the country will make in 2022. These past several days we have been reading about President Duterte flirting with running for vice president, Mayor Sara Duterte going back and forth with her presidential bid depending on her father’s choices, and the latest presidential news to hit the circuit – Manny Pacquiao taking more strides towards a potential 2022 presidential bid.

There’s no doubt that the country’s iconic boxer has been more vocal about stamping out corruption and pointing out potential corruption in the country. He is currently preparing for his upcoming fight and training hard to make up for lost time. He knows that a positive outcome to this bout will not only be good for him in the boxing community, but would also have a huge impact on his popularity if he decides to pursue a presidential campaign. Could that have been part of the reason for the timing of this match? I guess we’ll wait and see.

To say that a lot is happening simultaneously would be an understatement. At this point though, everything is speculation until it has been confirmed. We can’t allow ourselves to be dazzled by the smoke and mirrors or deafened by the white noise. We need to focus on the problems at hand and solve them one at a time.

Right now pushing for more vaccinations, continuing to follow safety protocols, and registering to vote next year, are things we can control and things we should focus our energy on. It’s useless to assume things before they happen. For now, we have to keep our eyes and our ears open and do our best to prepare for whatever comes our way.

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