REQUIRE CANDIDATES TO TAKE COMPETENCE EXAM
THIS year, the Philippines will once more hold national and local elections. I always ask myself: Who will I vote for? I think this same question is asked by every voter. The ones who usually get the vote are those with name recall, thanks to their advertisements or celebrity status, or those who offer “cash rewards.”
In any case, the current system of choosing our public officials offers no guarantee that we elect worthy and competent people. What usually happens is that candidates who are flush with cash get the votes and win. Our system is efficient in promoting overspending and corruption. Since the candidate who wins the election might have spent a fortune to get elected, he might as well recoup his expenses while in office.
Perhaps if we adopt a system that makes money irrelevant in choosing our officials, we might be better off. The Good Book says the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
The responsibility to inform the public about the qualifications and platforms of the candidates for president, vice president, senators, etc. should be given to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). With modern communications technology, there should be no need for anyone to spend on campaign materials. This will level the playing field. Debates among the candidates can be organized and aired nationwide through radio, TV and the internet. The public can send questions or comments to the Comelec way before the debates, and these can be sorted out and screened.
I would also strongly recommend that even before an individual is approved by the Comelec as a candidate for a national position, the person must first pass a competence exam. This will eliminate nuisance candidates. Moreover, the exam results should be made known to the public.
Just in the same way that we require doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, nurses, teachers, etc. to pass exams before they can work, we must also require people who serve in national positions of government to pass an exam before they can even run for election.