ELECTIONS IS NOTÂ just about casting and counting ballots. Elections is a tool for a people’s right to self-determination.Â Elections, therefore, is an event that ensures that democracy as a process- survives.
In emerging democracies like our young republic, necessarily we still have electoral flaws. Guns, goons and goldÂ in the past ruled the day. Cheating was rampant . Dagdag bawas made and unmade presidents and senators.Â That’s why post-election scenarios in the past were relatively violent and virulent.
Today- computerized elections and a maturing people have helped make elections generally and relatively democratic- reflective now of the will of the people. But, of course,Â not always- in the strictest sense.
Tomorrow is election day -and the power to chart the future rests on the hands of the people. In Bohol, close to 800,000 voters willÂ troop toÂ 5,471 precincts made of 1,061 polling places. In some areas here, the age-old vote-buying and violenceÂ unfortunately-Â still rear their ugly heads and then some.
The finger pointing to our people asÂ having a great disconnect between their religious faith and their daily acts findsÂ reality in Bohol as aÂ case in point. A deeply religious Catholic province – Bohol is among the top 5 provinces where vote-buying is not only rampant- but most expensive. Why is this so?
Consider a town electoral battle that can be the subject of a P30-Million budget or a P3,000 per voter cash purchase of vote. No wonder well-meaning and highly qualified BoholanosÂ today shy away from entering the arena of politics here – a place where angels fear to tread. Dirty politics. A buyer andÂ seller of souls market exists.
Ask your bankers in town -how the last few days -money from their vaults evaporated into the hands of those who are ready to corrupt the minds of voters to vote for those who hold the purse. And to be remindedÂ after electionsÂ as to who buttered their bread turning the relationship into Â a vicious cycle of political patronage and subservience.
AndÂ for violence- three politicalÂ toughies areÂ reportedly in the radar of police intelligence as having bought a cache of firearms. surely to be utilized for reasons far more worldly than target practicing of mayaÂ birds in the rice fields.
Today, theÂ once peaceful province of King Caloy Garcia has eight provinces under the Comelec Watch list: Buenavista, Danao, Antequera, Bilar, Tubigon, Panglao, Ubay and Clarin. PNP Provincial Director Dennis Agustin has instructed his men not to be intimidated by goons from hell- to stareÂ them downÂ eyeball to eyeball and be ready gun for gun if violence erupts. There is the Philippine Army on the side, just in case.
Violence and dirty money distort the essence of elections as a full expression of the freedom of choice. The Dispenser of either is the true enemy of democracy and mocks the luster offÂ free elections.
However, no matter how imperfect,we must still be thankful that we are still able to hold elections. Not all men and nations hold that privilege. Elections give the public a chance to hold accountable those men in power-and reject them at the polls if they fail. Elections also help facilitate the transfer of political power when necessary.
Elections is, therefore,Â both a product and a test ofÂ authentic pluralism.
No victory is permanent as there will always be future elections-rules of which not even the winners can change. Losers can still compete and win in another day. That is the essence of democracy.
In the national scale, a strongman president is in the offing- brandishing federalism and melting down criminality as an anchor slogan.
But even atÂ a 30% win, he will still be a president by plurality -not majority- which means the rest of the 70% do not like him. If one of three votes for him, two others stood against him. Arithmetic, Watson.
It is too early for anyoneÂ to savor euphoria and think this wafer thin plurality win will entitle a strongman to take short cuts and make shrift of our democratic ways. A democratic government’s legitimacy rests on the government’s ability -to protect- not to oppress and kill citizens,
ThatÂ brutal attitude will surelyÂ later undermine public respect – risk massive public disobedience and even revolt. President Noynoy Aquino had a much greater plurality of 42%Â in 2010-against the second-running former president Erap Estrada of only 15%. – and he did not even dare tinker with theÂ smallest niceties of democratic ideals. What about at onlyÂ 30%
Also, oneÂ of the greatest democratic developments inÂ this elections is the growing role of social media in creating a virtual community of talkative, opinionated people who bring the issues to its heated state of discourse and debate. This is one area that not even the most repressive of governments will be able to curtail to serve its dictatorial ends -anywhere, any time.Â The Great Internet Debate has become a liberating tool for true democratic space. We love this development.
All these are living proofs that we are leading towards more- not less -democracy. Let us, therefore, not allow anyone-Â like despotic rulers- or anything-Â like violence and dirty money- to rule over us who areÂ heirs of a proud Malay Race.
So goÂ out and vote for your sacred choice tomorrow. AndÂ then be ready to defend with your lives the democracy that our forebears fought and died for . Mabuhi and Pilipinas. Mabuhi and Demokrasya.
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