By Atty. Anfred P. Panes
When our future as a nation is potentially defined through the facility of a pen’s tip, done within a day in no more than an hour, would we not choose the best, most qualified, and the most competent leader?
The political consciousness fueled by mainstream media and other online platforms paved a dynamic intercourse of people of like and different wavelengths to support their candidates on the forthcoming 2022 national and local elections.
So distant is the past when we saw people mobilizing this way. When organizations which barely endorsed candidates made an exception to endorse one, when premiere academic institutions openly supports one, and when influential people spontaneously used their platforms to support and make it known to the people, it brings us a positively invigorating vibe of energy that we are actually looking at the right person – at a stellar woman who responds and delivers.
As a reminder on how privileged we are at the present to vote for our candidates, it is embedded in our history that election system in the Philippines was first practiced during the colonial periods under Spain and the United States but it was rather a ceremonial process than a genuine democratic discourse. During that time, the election system was only limited to male, educated, and landowner voters.
It was only in 1933 when the Filipina women have been granted the right to vote and be voted upon by virtue of Act 4112. It was only in 1946 when our country conducted its first democratic election for the positions of President, Vice-President, and members of the Congress (Senators and House of Representatives).
Then the Martial Law Regime happened in the 1970s and the democracy of motherland was bludgeoned to death. The country had been shackled into painfully flipping its dark pages since then until the drafting of the 1986 Freedom Constitution and eventually its renaissance through the 1987 Constitution which still takes effect at the present.
The yesteryears might have given us reasons to doubt the leadership we had. Yesterday might have given us a glimpse of hope that we can finally rise above the learned systematic helplessness. Now, I believe in our power to vote and to change our lives once and for all. Now is the time that we assert our constitutional right that we are a sovereign Filipino people where government authority emanates from.
However, we do not just vote for its sake. We vote because we know the consequences of our choices. We cannot just give away the future of our country. What is at stake transcends beyond the material and financial interest of the present because we are deciding for the future generation. The legacy of good governance is one moral obligation we owe to them.
Nevertheless, I still see a more informed and educated Filipino voters. We are not the enemy of each other. We are more than just fanatics. We are nation-builders. Even if we obstinately stick to a charismatic person brought by centennial practice of patron-client politics, political clientelism, and popularity-based election, let us allow ourselves to see that person through the works of service and impact to the populace.
Witnessing the genuine and voluntary efforts of people to support their candidates who can sufficiently establish the track record of a transparent, accountable, and competent governance is a sight to behold. We may not experience this opportunity again. We cannot lose our grip on a leader who showed us the essence of public service and not just by name-recall – for that leader prevails in all aspects of people-centered governance. She banners a government that represents, a leadership that listens, and public service that delivers.
Trite as it may seem but when we are given a chance to change the future of our country for one day, I would say we vote – that is the most plausible thing that can happen. The Filipino families are heavily reliant on the policies of the government to have a gainful employment, to access the basic social services, to stay above the poverty threshold, and to barely meet the ends of the family. Let us do this not just for ourselves. Let us do this for those who are deprived to voice their concern. Let us vote to represent the powerless.
With the exercise of our right to vote, we can mount enough power to change the course of national leadership. Now, I feel empowered to shape the future of my country and my people. Today, I choose the break the cycle of incompetence. Today, I choose to believe in people power.
The author is the Founding Partner of A.Panes Law and a Professorial Lecturer of the University of San Agustin College of Law,