Vot­ing and CJ Sereno

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ

IAM not a lawyer but only a for­mer English teacher and it seems clear from my read­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion Ar­ti­cle XI Sec­tion 2 that the CJ can only be re­moved by im­peach­ment. Se­condly, miss­ing some SALN is a tech­ni­cal fault. The pur­pose of SALNs is to see if the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial has il­le­gally en­riched her­self. From the SALNs sub­mit­ted this can al­ready be seen. Thirdly, our sys­tem says that an ac­cused is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty. Have they given CJ Sereno her day in court?

Vote buy­ing is the bane and de­struc­tion of our democ­racy. It is ba­si­cally in the lower lev­els such as in the barangay elec­tions that it oc­curs. Be­cause there are peo­ple who will ac­cept and peo­ple who will buy, vote buy­ing is enor­mous. As some­one who was de­cry­ing it protested, vote buy­ing will go on as long as they can get away with it. But what can the rest of us who see its de­struc­tive po­ten­tial do? We have preached about it. We have laws against it but it still goes on and even in­creas­ing tremen­dously. Can we make the penal­ties enor­mous enough for peo­ple not to try it? And can we en­force it? Or are we to ac­cept that this is some­thing we can­not do any­thing about but rail against it. There seems to be no mo­ral sua­sion that we can do to stop vote buy­ing.

Se­condly, is it pos­si­ble for re­li­gious groups to re­frain from or­der­ing their ad­her­ents to vote for their cho­sen can­di­dates? This is part of the sep­a­ra­tion of Church and state.

Vot­ing means to choose one be­tween two or more po­ten­tial choices. In the warm per­sonal blood of the Ori­ent, most of us take it as an in­sult if they are not cho­sen in an elec­tion. Un­like the more cold and im­per­sonal Western­ers who can take not be­ing voted with­out im­pli­ca­tions that they were in­sulted. When two rel­a­tives run for of­fice, they at least do not talk to each other for years. It is a per­sonal in­sult to con­test a po­si­tion and not have your friends vote for you. It may even be worse than that. They come to hate each other and be­come vi­o­lent. Some­how Western­ers can take it in stride to lose in a ball game and in many con­tests. Vot­ing then can make en­e­mies of friends of rel­a­tives. Not be­ing cho­sen is taken as an in­sult.

But vot­ing is nec­es­sary es­pe­cially in a democ­racy. But that vote must be free. And there are many ways in which it is tainted. A vote that has been bought with a bride or a threat is not a free vote and un­ac­cept­able. In this coun­try, vote buy­ing is still ram­pant. And as long as votes are bought, there is no true democ­racy. But maybe we do not need a true democ­racy. Other forms of gov­ern­ment may be just as good but we have sworn that our sys­tem will be the demo­cratic sys­tem. It is just as good any other or may be bet­ter.

But there are ways to sub­vert it. One of them is by bribes. And as long as vote buy­ing is ram­pant in this coun­try, we can­not get the ben­e­fits of true democ­ra­cies. We should have some other form of gov­ern­ment but not democ­racy. For bribes vi­ti­ate demo­cratic vot­ing. There are peo­ple who buy votes and peo­ple who ac­cept bribes be­cause we have not made it not pos­si­ble. We need to en­force our laws.

Again I am not a lawyer or a politician but a cit­i­zen who wants our Con­sti­tu­tion fol­lowed in a demo­cratic coun­try.

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