Voters' education:Key to a genuine democracy

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Now that the period is on for the barangay and SK polls, it is high time for civil society, the church, the academe and student leaders to unite and do something worthwhile for our country and people. It is time for concerned and conscientious men and women to join forces and educate the masses on the importance of electing competent, honest and hard-working officials. Let us start from the lowest level - the barangay as the basic structure of the nation next to the family. We need the Rotarians, Lions, Jaycees, Zonta Club and Inner Wheel club members, Couples For Christ, Marriage Encounters, and Knights Of Columbus to express their love of God through service to fellowmen.

We need a leader or group of leaders without political attachments to any partisan groups, men and women who love our country and who have the gift of wisdom and discernment to see the need to elevate the level of political decision-making and make the elections the barometers of choosing the most qualified among us. I think there are many from the academe, the church, mass media, and civic organizations. We can also expect some from fraternities and sororities whose passions should be redirected from hazings and frat wars to more constructive and positive action for nation-building.

Then we need a template for teaching how to choose the best candidates. We need set of values and attributes of  genuine leaders who will serve the people without selfish objectives; who have visions to move our people forward, and whose paradigms are for servant leadership; who are not members of dynasties; and who just want to help. Beyond positive values and unblemished character, people should search for leaders who must have competencies and leadership skills. Values without competence are not enough and competence without values will only exacerbate today's brand of political leadership.

There may not be enough time before these barangay elections, but there will always be elections in the future. We must start somewhere and sometime, and convene a group of leaders who shall start a voters education movement, in our immediate communities, homeowners association, summer off campuses activities, and church outreach programs. Faith without action is dead. It is high time for religious men, priests, deacons, nuns and pastors, imams and elders to come out of their prayer rooms and serve the people by bringing the light. It is time for academicians, doctors of philosophy and pedagogy, masters of arts and sciences to come out of their hallowed ivory towers and share the pains of the masses.

Let us bring light to the people. If we do not do it, who will? If we do not begin now, when shall we do something for our country? Why us? Because no one else would.

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