As the national elections draw near, the COMELEC has never been put to test on how to conduct the election in such an orderly and efficient manner to expedite and produce plausible results, as it was heavily tainted in the past elections. While the civil society watch dogs reinvent their ways to keep up with the sophistication of election frauds, but this is often criticized as reactionary. The election fever has become an epidemic already. All avenues for popularity race have been explored by those aspiring for the senate and presidency. Presidential platitudes vie for attention on TV with soap operas, advertisements and showbiz rumors and also on the newspapers headlines. The voters are reduced to circus spectators by seeing more the semblance than the substance. All these contrivances seem to work as we have many voters who do not regard election seriously and also lack the ability to decide judiciously on candidates.
How many of us still have faith in the election as a meaningful exercise of our right to suffrage? It seems all criminal activities converge during election time, so overpowering that individuals succumb to their influence. Violence escalates such as killing, ambuscade, massacre, arson, extortion, bombing, threatening with bodily harm and abduction, which we thought could only occur in war and less democratic countries, are actually happening.
We regard the right to vote, our vote, as the expression of our right to decide what is good for the country more than the digits and the boxes we see on election returns. It is also a demonstration that in its exercise we are equal because each one of us has only one vote whether he is rich, poor, educated or unable to read or write. And it is true that democratic nations are born on the meaningful exercise of this right.
Today, in addition to about 48 million voters in the country, we have more than five million new voters expected to register by 2009, bringing the total number of young voters (18-35 years old) to about 11 million. Their number is very significant to elect the type of leaders for the country – the recent US election exemplifies this. But how many of them have become minions to traditional politicians as shown in the last Kabataang Barangay Election? There remains idealism among the youth but they can hardly see through the examples of the adults and educated. We could only dream of the intensity of campus activism involving the youth in the 80’s and 90’s which is now lacking. Involvement in ensuring the honest conduct of the election is the least they could do.
We are thus challenged to set an example to the youth and lead them to informed decisions come election time. Our duty as citizens of a republican and democratic country begins on election and never ends after election. We safeguard our rights at all times, challenging our leaders to be held accountable to our entitlements. If we have this kind of commitment to the promotion of human rights, the election of anybody to any post in the government would be irrelevant as we actively take part in governance through participatory and consultative processes in all the phases of development, involvement in the mechanisms for accountability and in the sharing of benefits derived from any advancement in the fields of science, art and technology – dani