God protect us from evil
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2019 - 12:00am

British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot Roald Dahl once said, “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.”

Today is the day. It is the time to vote. The future of the Philippines lies in the hands of the electorate. But when will our votes really make a difference? My dad, the late Max Soliven used to say of elections, “The Gang offers not a New Deal but the same Raw Deal of Old to our exhausted Filipino people.” So, what’s the deal now? Will we go through another monumental disappointment?

Today marks the 33rd election of members to the Senate of the Philippines for a six-year term as well as the elections to the House of Representatives and local officials above the barangay level. Who will emerge victorious? The Senate slate of the administration, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), headed by President Duterte is expected to win. Of course, just like in the past elections the opposition Liberal party with its Otso Diretso coalition party led by Vice President Leni Robredo will surely not give up so easily. Other parties vying for the contested posts today are the: UNA, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Hugpong ng Pagbabago led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Nacionalista and other alliances. There are 134 approved party-lists also running for a congressional seat.

There are currently 297 seats in the House; 238 of these are district representatives, and 59 are party-list representatives. Statistics show that around 43,000 candidates are vying for nearly 18,000 local positions. A total of 62 hopefuls are vying for 12 Senate seats. Comelec statistics showed that Election 2019 has over 61 million registered, a little over 51% of which are women. Millennials, those aged 25-39 years, constitute the biggest group at 37% or 22.8 million. Eighteen to 24 years or Gen Z followed at 16% or 10.1 million.

Meanwhile authorities have identified 946 election “hot spots,” with three cities and municipalities placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Philippine National Police chief, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said Moises Padilla town in Negros Occidental province has been added with Cotabato City in Maguindanao and Daraga town in Albay as areas under Comelec control.

The number of areas considered “red,” or “areas of grave concern” – the highest category of hot spots which requires increased security deployment – has been pegged at 540. These are mostly in Mindanao. “Orange” hot spot, or areas of “immediate concern,” are 249 and 154 identified simply as areas of concern. Areas placed under the yellow category are those with a history of election-related incidents in the last two elections, a history of intense political rivalry, and areas that had been previously declared under Comelec control. Areas under the orange category include areas where there are serious armed threats by some groups. The PNP has been placed on full alert status.

All the candidates have been singing the same tune since day one of the campaign period. They all lament the sad situation of the country, the poor especially. They all promised to be the hope of the future. But haven’t they said that since time immemorial? Many have been in public service for such a long time; in fact, three generations have passed in some cases and yet nothing has changed. The country has continued to sink in ‘troubled waters’.

But how have we gotten to this point? Surely, the politicos know their song. They are masters of their craft. They know all the twist and turns to the detriment of the country. Yes, reality bites. The votes count. And the winner takes it all!

Political Science professor Dr. Ador Torneo cited several studies on election trends done by the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) in the years 1995 and 2003. He shared, “In 1995, popularity was the most influential consideration. In 2003, the image of the candidate or the characteristics perceived to benefit the voter had the biggest weight. In that year, the party affiliation, whether the candidate was in administration or the opposition, was a consideration for many survey respondents. It is important to remember that the survey was conducted just a few years after highly divisive and polarizing events in EDSA 2 and 3.”

Dr. Torneo added, “Both family and experience will likely have impacts on the 2016 elections.” He also mentioned that the leading presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls have been observed to be “using their family names as important components of their campaigns.”

Early this year, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey commissioned by private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute revealed that the top quality that Filipino voters look for in a senatorial candidate is “not corrupt.” Candidates who have concern for the poor emerged as the second top quality (22 %) that respondents are looking for senatorial candidates followed by good personal characteristics (21%), and trustworthy (21%).”

Other qualities cited by respondents are “has concern/helpful to those in need” with 20%; “walks his talk/fulfills promises” with 14 %; “can give solutions to the problems of the country” with 9%; “approachable” with 7%; “has good leadership qualities” with 6%; “knows how to listen and confer with other people” with 5%; “has faith in God” with 5%; “has political will” with 3%; and “educated/intelligent/bright” with 3%.

Political will and education got the lowest score in the responses. This simply shows that nothing much has changed in the way the electorate makes decisions on who to vote for every election period. This is the vicious cycle we can’t seem to get out from. 

Today, as we cast our vote let us take heed of what George Orwell once wrote, “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims but accomplices.”

Father God, we praise you for your love and faithfulness towards your children. We praise you for being a perfect, holy, trustworthy God that is bigger than all the evil we experience here on earth. We ask that you give us eyes to see when evil is before us, hearts to hate evil and the desire to flee from its presence. We ask that you would not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil and draw us closer to yourself. We ask for the long-expected Jesus to come quickly and make all things new. We ask these things His precious name. Amen. (Christianity.com)

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS
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