Candidates I am not voting for
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

In the 1973 Philippine Constitution, ratified by Filipinos in the early months of Martial Law, suffrage was made a duty. Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, an eminent constitutionalist, said “public officials, who determine policy, must be chosen by the electors. If the right were not exercised, then the theory of popular sovereignty becomes a myth.”

The Constitutional Commission that wrote the 1987 charter treated the right to vote as carrying with it the right not to vote. Suffrage ceased to be an onerous and unilateral duty. In that philosophical milieu, the justification referred to by Fernando can still persevere but in a rather different perspective. I fear a largely negative though less probable result can result in the way suffrage has been revisited. There is a chance that a candidate who does not deserve to win wins because many voters who could have chosen the better candidate refused to vote. By not voting, the electors increase the percentage of the wrong candidate to win.

To illustrate, let us suppose there is a candidate called Mr. Rara Avis who is idealistic, nationalistic, exceptional intelligent, passionate for public service, and fiercely incorrupt. He frowns at the razzmatazz most politicians do. His campaign organization is simple, lean, and reasonably methodical, trusting that when his thoughts and programs are conveyed and discussed, he will have a chance at winning. Vote buying is, to him, vomiting.

Against that, the reality is that many of our electors expect “pahalipay” from their candidates in exchange for votes. I have observed that money is funneled from the politician to the voter through a system that gets fine-tuned each time there is election. The warped rationale given for vote buying is our concept of “gaba” (my nearest English equivalent is retribution). A voter who receives the “pahalipay” conveniently explains his act. He says this is the only time he receives money from his elected officials without having to issue receipts. The crisp “pahalipay” bills he gets tend to outweigh the credentials of Mr. Avis.

To the naïve among us, vote buying is, perhaps, fiction. But from what I have seen on the ground, this is a sad reality. Money flows from the politician to the voter. Vote buying is rampant and most of those who “sell” their votes cast their ballots for the less deserving candidates.

Without pretending to be an intelligent and patriotic voter, I have decided to help the ideal candidates improve their chances. My process is elimination. From the list of those vying for Senators, I am identifying those for whom I WILL NOT VOTE. My initial list of men and women who, I believe, do not have the best interest of our countrymen. Because name recall is not their problem, I will make sure to remember not to commit the unpardonable error of voting for them. They are Imee Marcos and Johnny Ponce Enrile who can trace their roots to Martial Law. Then Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, and JV Ejercito, all suited for their cinema prowess. I have to include Bato de la Rosa for his role (which lawyers call as respondeat superior), in the thousands of tokhang murders. I’m sure in their campaign speeches they will extol their own virtues and promise the proverbial moon and stars, but the little I know of them is enough for me to exercise my right not to vote for them.

 

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