Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION - FR. CECILIO MAGSINO, ces­[email protected]

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.

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