Our vot­ing power

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORY! -

OVER week­end lunch, a friend asked what my opin­ion is re­gard­ing the Lib­eral Party’s Otso Diretso sen­a­to­rial slate. I ex­pressed strong cer­tainty of not sup­port­ing one but I also told him that I would surely vote for the only fe­male con­tender in the op­po­si­tion’s ros­ter. “I read about them,” I said. “Maybe I’ll down­load their re­cent de­bates,” my cu­ri­ous friend re­sponded. I con­vinced him to watch the de­bates in or­der to get to know the can­di­dates bet­ter and even­tu­ally be able to make an in­formed de­ci­sion this May.

I like the fact that I am able to dis­cuss top­ics like po­lit­i­cal lead­ers or so­cial prob­lems with my friends. Other than get­ting in­for­ma­tion from rep­utable news sources, it helps to hear about peo­ple’s opin­ions which are usu­ally in­flu­enced by first­hand en­coun­ters with the politi­cians them­selves or from the peo­ple in their cir­cle. When choos­ing our lead­ers dur­ing elec­tion, we need as much in­for­ma­tion as we can get so that we can make the best judg­ment on whether a can­di­date de­serves our sup­port.

Back in 2001 when I was in high school, I re­mem­ber a lo­cal can­di­date in my home­town who had a very moth­erly, neat and friendly look on her of­fi­cial cam­paign pic­ture. Her poster was ba­sic, with her name in bold and clear font style. But what struck me was her charis­matic, warm smile, her crisp polo shirt and a pro­fes­sional, re­li­able aura which her over­all look ex­uded. I would have voted for her if I could. She was a neo­phyte but the way she pre­sented her­self even in pho­to­graph con­vinced me to be­lieve that she was or­ga­nized, had au­thor­ity and there­fore qual­i­fied to be one of our city coun­cilors.

Fast for­ward to be­ing an adult, I re­al­ized that it takes more than hav­ing a pol­ished look to be an ef­fec­tive leader. Also, while I be­lieve that politi­cians should al­ways look pleas­ant and pre­sentable, as a way of show­ing re­spect to the po­si­tion and con­stituents that they rep­re­sent, the vot­ing pub­lic must be able to dis­cern be­yond this su­per­fi­cial qual­i­fi­ca­tion. We don’t need an­other Imelda Mar­cos who is un­de­ni­ably im­mac­u­late but whose in­tegrity will for­ever be ques­tioned.

Be­ing able to choose our fu­ture gov­ern­ment lead­ers is one of the most lib­er­at­ing as­pects of our democ­racy. Choos­ing con­sci­en­tiously is truly about claim­ing the con­trol that we have on our fate. It re­minds us of the power that we have in shaping our lives at present as well as the last­ing im­pact of the de­ci­sions we make on the fu­ture of our chil­dren.

Of­ten times, when we join the work­force as soon as we grad­u­ate, we don’t get to choose our bosses. When we are un­for­tu­nate to be in an or­ga­ni­za­tion where we don’t like our lead­ers, we ex­cru­ci­at­ingly swal­low our pride and still obey them be­cause we are at their mercy. If we could not han­dle it any­more, we leave. As stud­ies have shown, em­ploy­ees usu­ally leave be­cause of bosses that they don’t like. But this is not the case when it comes to our pub­lic of­fi­cials. The power of putting peo­ple in po­si­tion is our re­spon­si­bil­ity. And even if we don’t like the peo­ple in au­thor­ity, we don’t just leave and move to an­other coun­try. Our city or our coun­try, is one big or­ga­ni­za­tion; but it is one that is gov­erned by the tenets of democ­racy. We have a say, and it is up to us to ex­er­cise it.

For at least three gen­er­a­tions now, cor­rup­tion in the gov­ern­ment has con­sis­tently been an over­ar­ch­ing is­sue that ham­pers growth and progress; caus­ing the pub­lic to lose its trust in the of­fi­cials and our in­sti­tu­tions.

Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional re­ported that in 2018, our coun­try’s score is 36/100. This score per­tains to the pub­lic sec­tor’s per­cep­tion of cor­rup­tion on a scale of 0, which means highly cor­rupt, to 100, mean­ing very clean. Through­out the world, we ranked 99th out of 180 coun­tries in terms of per­ceived cor­rup­tion in 2018. From 1995

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