Midterm hopes
BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - April 30, 2019 - 12:00am

The electoral campaign season is entering the homestretch and stakes are raised in the two weeks ahead of the May 13 elections.

Many of you by now may already have your list of candidates to vote for. I already have a final list for the candidates in Cebu City (North), but I am still finalizing my list for the Senate. For the latter, the main qualities I’m looking for are competence, independence, and good character. These are needed for the Senate to become a powerful check on presidential powers in the second half of this administration.

For the party-list election, I will go for the track record --the number of pro-people bills filed and passed into laws. So that excludes the non-performing party lists and the new ones which have just recently emerged for this year’s election. The latter ones are mostly just banking on some political patrons or celebrity endorsements to get a shot at a seat in Congress. A true party-list for me is the one which has built a mass base over the years and has served that base consistently.

However, it is really in the local elections where much of my interest lies. In Metro Cebu, what matters is not so much about what is happening now but more on what is at stake for the future. Economic figures continue to show solid growth in many sectors, and a look at the metro skyline makes one wonder why the island has not produced senators and a president in recent years considering its contribution to national growth and well-being.

So for the local elections, particularly in Cebu City, the main criteria for me are track record, a workable plan for the future, a solid mass base, and a good amount of local pride. Those local politicians who seem to just rely on the popularity and resources of the president are a big turn-off for me.

I mean there is nothing wrong with a presidential endorsement if that would give a local politician some advantage. But national-local alliances are supposed to be mutual give-and-take --each one has something to give to the other. I’ve always believed that, historically, Cebuanos frown on local politicians kissing the feet of national officials to get themselves a favor for which they could only return with uncritical loyalty.

On a larger point, Philippine democracy has always been viewed by social scientists as a paradox. That means we as electorates are far from getting what we want from our politicians. Yet despite its flaws, we should participate in this vibrant political exercise in the hope of extracting accountability and keeping our dreams for political reforms alive. Whatever is in store for us after this midterm elections, I hope that the illusion of a Filipino savior-leader from the 2016 elections has now been shattered after nearly three years of astonishing soundbites yet with unremarkable results.

This should motivate us to work, instead, on strengthening our institutions and organizing grassroots movements that lessen our dependence on elite political dominance; so that no one savior-leader will emerge to make astonishing promises, then only to be sucked later into the orbit of the traditional corrupt and patronage-based system.

I hope we continue to mature as a people in choosing our leaders. That does not mean we should choose only the ideal candidates because for the most part, our choices can be very limited. It means we must continue to demand and cultivate better leaders from the elected and among ourselves, even and especially after the elections.

ELECTIONS
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