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Choose carefully

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

On May 9, we will vote in what is probably the most important election in the life of our republic. If we make the wrong choice, forget voting freely for a long while.

We are living in dangerous times for democracies everywhere. Autocrats are coming to power via the ballot box, using democracy to kill itself. In our age, democracies die not because generals mount a coup d’etat, but because freely elected leaders decide to grab absolute power.

It may not even happen quickly.  Elected leaders can gradually subvert the democratic process to increase their power. We saw this in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez. It seems to be happening now in Hungary with Orban, and in Turkey with Erdogan. Trump tried to do it in the United States and will probably try again.

The formula is simple. Undermine respect for and the legitimacy of the political opposition and of free media. We saw how Leni Robredo was demonized for six years nonstop, and how ABS-CBN was denied the franchise to operate. We also saw how Nobel Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa was saddled with court cases.

Brainwashing has never been easier. A well produced TikTok with false information can instantly go viral. History can be rewritten. Truth can be redefined. Trolls have effectively used technology for evil.

Unfortunately, Leni’s social media handlers are too Facebook oriented. The other side worked on TikTok, favored by the D and E audience, the bulk of voters. I am told they have over 10 billion views on TikTok. Leni’s group is a latecomer on TikTok and while catching up, isn’t even half of their rival.

The stakes on May 9 are so high that people from different sectors of society are getting involved like never before. A group of evangelical Christians formed a group called Christian Values Movement (CVM). In a pastoral message issued through their chairman, JP Masakayan, they among others, point out:

“Today, as we make a choice on whom to elect, we too are faced with this personal and political dilemma. Are we voting with self-interest, bias, affinity, and well-meaning shouts of ‘Ay Sana?’ Or are we making a rational choice founded on truth?

“Or you may make the popular choice, but pity the next generation. For as then, so it is today: All the people answered, “His blood is on us and our children (Matthew 27:25).”

Roman Catholics, the majority of Filipinos, have also never been as active in an election as they are now.

“Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be ‘dirty,’ frustrating and fraught with failure,” Pope Francis once said.

“Given today’s so many problems unfolding in the world, do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

Pope Francis continues: “individual Catholics must get involved and ‘embroiled’ in politics because it is one of the highest forms of charity since it seeks the common good. Yet, it isn’t easy, especially when there is so much corruption,” he said.

“It is hard to be in the middle of it all without getting your hands or heart a little dirty. Ask the Lord to help you not sin, but if you get your hands dirty, ask for forgiveness and keep going… don’t get discouraged.”

We have to choose wisely and carefully.

The first question we must ask ourselves is why am I voting for this candidate. If we don’t have a good reason and just say basta gusto ko eh, we have a problem. If we are choosing for personal, regional or other interests, we have a problem too.

We need to choose the right candidate who has the reputation for honesty, integrity, a record of performance, and the training and experience to carry out the job at stake.

We also need to use this election to finally cut the cord that political dynasties have coiled around our necks. Choose to vote against any candidate, national or local, with dynastic ties.

Then, go down on your knees and pray to God to help everyone choose the right candidate. Their wrong choice adversely affects you too.

Ask God to give us a president after His own heart, one who has the heart of a servant leader like Jesus Christ… one who will stoop down to wash our feet, think nothing about riding a public bus, and not be embarrassed to fly economy on a commercial flight.

Speak to God heart-to-heart. Tell Him we have to do better now. All the past presidents we elected, with an exception or two, left office richer because they prioritized personal agendas and neglected our people’s needs. Look how even war torn countries like Korea and Vietnam overtook us. Poverty is widespread and millions of Filipinos go hungry daily.

Ask God to lead us to elect a president with no conflict of interest, no family baggage, and whose only agenda is the good of the people.

Will God answer our prayers? If we pray according to His will, He certainly will. God loves answering our prayers if we pray for the right reason and with the right attitude.

Many of us woke up late to the danger we face if the wrong candidate wins. We made up for it by showing that we are able to sacrifice for something beyond ourselves.

This post I picked up in a Messenger group of Leni supporters written by “Jose” captures the mood:

“Liwanag sa dilim. All we could hope for and truly prayed for is now with us. Leni Robredo is right when she points to all of us who believed and prayed and worked to create the light from within ourselves.

“We are the light in the darkness, awakened, committed, ready to embark on the journey of nation-building. In our hands and hearts are the answers to our own questions. And, thank you, VP Leni Robredo, for inspiring and leading us to bringing out the best in ourselves.”

We once slipped into a martial law dictatorship. It wasn’t good. But God loves us. Continue praying to save our democracy. I feel God’s answer is yes and amen.

 

 

Boo Chanco’s email address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

ELECTION

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