Participating in the electoral process
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

One sure indication that the local political season is starting to heat up is when the Commission on Elections starts to reshuffle all election officials in the province. The reshuffling this week is part of the process of ensuring that the polls will be fair and credible, particularly to stem any perception of bias on the part of any election official.

Growing up in the mid-1980s to 1990s with a mother who was a Comelec officer, what was then modeled to me was a value for integrity and fairness that many in the Comelec stood for.

Modesty aside, mother even earned a commendation sometime in the 1990s through a municipal council resolution backed by councilors belonging to opposing political parties in the town of Consolacion. A wooden-framed news story about that resolution published in The FREEMAN still hangs on a wall in our house in Catmon.

After mother’s retirement, the Comelec gene stayed with her such that she has for the most part stayed away from participating in any partisan political exercise, choosing other civic duties instead. If only for being once an election officer, mother deserves to be left alone.

For most of us, however, participating in political exercises including the electoral process should be the norm. I know there are many opportunities and ways to participate in our democratic system on many levels. But participating in elections is too important to pass up.

When I say participating in elections, I don’t only mean that you exercise your right to vote during election day. I also mean choosing the candidates and political parties you want to support, and supporting these candidate and political parties with the resources available to you.

It is ironic that many educated voters choose to stay away from engaging in partisan politics. Some express their political views through social media but then leave it at that. Armchair activism or “clicktivism” may help spread awareness of political and social issues but they quite often do not translate to putting choice candidates in power.

I’ve said it here before about power, that it is very important because it makes things happen. Now if ordinary citizens simply pass up on supporting or campaigning for the ideal candidates they want to place in government, then there will be a shallow field of candidates to choose from.

Absent our zeal and active participation, the electoral field becomes a contest among those who seek power for its own sake, devoid of any ideology or idealism. We will be paying these officials their undeserved salaries and they will incompetently decide where our taxes go. Investors will do business with officials who are incapable of envisioning the future beyond the tip of their nose.

There is still plenty of time to participate actively in the electoral process. The campaign period for local officials starts on March 29 and ends on May 11.

If there is a political pulong-pulong in your area, show up and ask the candidates questions. Your individual vote may not make a difference, but your questions and inputs do. These will influence the level of the political discourse.

When you see your choice candidates struggle to keep up with their campaign materials, find a way to lend your financial support. You can ask their campaign team for their design template and then use this to print your own shirts or make your own posters. You may post campaign stickers on your car, but make sure they follow Comelec guidelines of not exceeding 8.5x11 inches.

Do not feel helpless if your choice candidate is not faring well in the surveys. Surveys, the credible ones at least, can guide campaign teams on where their candidate is strong and where they are weak. Surveys also reveal what issues are important to the electorate. So they guide the campaign team on what steps to take in the remaining days of the campaign.

Never let cynicism get in the way of your active participation in the coming elections. The change you want to happen in our country depends on your willingness to participate in our democratic process.

Don’t be like many people who keep on criticizing the government and putting their country down in private gatherings but have never joined a political party, never worked in campaign team, never even joined a public hearing, nor contributed money to a candidate or a political cause.


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