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Opinion

The ‘accursed’ voter’s Id

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Before anything else allow me to put some context for the above headline. By itself I understand that the Voter’s ID is a necessary tool, needed and useful for verification during elections. In a country where the dead gets to vote and the vacant lot next door to my house is supposed to be the residence of six people, the Voter’s ID certainly comes in handy.

But my protest for today, if you would call it that, is how the Voter’s ID has become a tool for control by local government officials, particularly some mayors and barangay captains. Time and again, I have heard first hand how people in need of medical services, ayuda or recently in order to register for vaccination have been unable to or were prevented from doing so because they were not registered voters or could not produce a Voter’s ID.

I remember a laborer who asked me for financial assistance to get a hernia surgery and when I pointed out that they could go to the city hospital in their area, the poor guy told me he had been rejected because he did not have a Voter’s ID. That rejection prevented him from ever doing any manual labor because of his condition. We are talking about essential government services that are funded by taxpayers’ money which are being denied to poor, illiterate people or individuals who are transferees into a community, barangay or city, all because they don’t have a Voter’s ID!!!

The Voter’s ID is issued by the Commission on Elections for use during elections and for related election matters requiring identification or proof of registry as a voter. I don’t recall of any occasion or announcement where the Comelec or the Department of the Interior and Local Government announced that a resident or member of a community must show his Voter’s ID to avail of essential services from local governments!

In the first place, it is not an easy task to get your Voter’s ID, given the fact that the Comelec reportedly requires personal appearance to secure it. In the second place, most people are prevented from non-essential travel within NCR or most localities that are currently under quarantine. People who are 65 and above are not allowed outdoors as well as those below 18. Then there is the high risk of infection with the Delta variant of C-19. When the Pasig City Comelec conducted their mobile registry in Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig, many many years ago, I distinctly remember being told that the Voter’s ID will be sent to us. Why not? If the DFA can send passports via courier why not the Comelec?

Two elections later and I am now told that in order to receive certain financial benefits (that I did not ask for nor expect) from the LGU, I have to go to City Hall and look for the Comelec office and secure my Voter’s ID. Sorry, the prospects of getting infected is more than enough to keep me away. I am well able to care for my needs and getting a cash gift for Christmas from City Hall is off putting, given the many people who are broke and jobless. As a matter of principle, I find it offensive that the goodwill of LGUs is tied to making sure you are a voter in their district!

I’ll be OK but what about the poor, indigent, illiterate Filipinos who are unjustly excluded by mayors, city hall officials and barangay officials around the Philippines? This illegal imposition or election related screening and processing must be put to a stop by Secretary Ed Año and, if need be, by Congress and the Comelec. Barangays should be tasked to regularly list or enlist residents and new transferees in their area of responsibilities and issue the appropriate certificates or barangay IDs.

As far as the “accursed” Voters ID is concerned, I can only hope, pray and suggest to the Comelec that they up their game in the area of digital services and delivery. Maybe consult with the Philippine Statistics Authority to understand how people can simply go online, submit a request, pay the fee and actually expect delivery of a document within days.

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While listening to comments about what’s right and wrong about certain politicians and presidential candidates, it became clear to me that many people want someone highly qualified, highly intelligent, with high emotional quotient or simpatico and someone who won’t steal the country blind. In short people, want a strong leader and a saint all wrapped up in one. Judging from all the comments I’ve heard and read, there is no single potential candidate that would pass the people’s wish list. Politicians will surely respond by saying: “You can’t please everybody.”

I, on the other hand, might suggest that the problem is not about the choices of who is fit to govern or to rule but rather the “choosy” ungovernable westernized population making First World demands in the midst of our Third World reality and limitations. We have champagne tastes but beer budgets. We want the best of the best but won’t step up our game, attitude and performance as individuals and citizens.

I recently came across a quotation attributed to Plato that goes: “For a man to conquer himself is the finest and noblest of all victories.” My dear mother Marita regularly reminded me of Shakespeare’s words in the play Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Before we make demands on others, perhaps we should first check: Do we measure up to the same standards we use to measure others? Do we contribute and work for improvement or do we simply join the discourse of sound and fury amounting to nothing? Better instead to pray to God: Thy will be done.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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