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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WHO was it who said “Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason?” In the Philippines, we can always change diapers, but not necessarily politicians.

“I never vote for anyone. I always vote against,” quipped American comedian, actor, juggler and writer W.C. Fields. But what if there’s no one to vote against?

In Negros Occidental, we have 12 candidates for mayor and vice mayor who are shoo-ins for the 2013 local elections. Reason? They are running unopposed.


The six unopposed mayoral bets are incumbents Gerardo Pomar Valmayor Jr. of San Cárlos City; David Albert Rubin Lacson of EB Magalona; Ramón Diasnes Torres, Bago City; Isidro Pérez Zayco, Kabankalan City; John Rey Dadivas Tabujara, Cauayan; and newbie Miguel Consing Peña, Pulupandan.

In Bicol, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, on his last term of office, is running unopposed, as well as former Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, who is running unchallenged as mayor.

Ditto for re-electionist governors in three Davao provinces. Governors Corazon N. Malanyaon of Davao Oriental, Rodolfo del Rosario of Davao del Norte and Arthur T. Uy of Compostela Valley are running unopposed.

At least voters don’t get to pick the lesser evil. Or for that matter, to choose the better or the best candidates.

There won’t even be a need for any platforms of governments. No need to be creative or do some mind-busting proposals to excite the swing votes.

True, the country is not under a dictatorship. But I’m unsure if we are in a democracy either. Henry Charles Bukowski, the American poet, novelist and short story writer once wrote: “The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.”

In these areas where candidates run unopposed, we vote, we don’t vote, the results eventually remain the same. Media won’t need exit polls because we already know who’ll get the cigar.

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. But there won’t even be any talk of losing because there won’t be losing candidates.

US president Richard Nixon was wrong when he remarked, “Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.” Guess what? There won’t be a second much less a third. The upside is no one gets to oblivion in unopposed elections.

Unopposed candidates are sure to win, regardless of whether they woo us, promise us the stars and the moon, or ignore or snub us. The results remain the same. Getting a single vote or a landslide won’t matter. A vote of one is just as good as hundred thousand votes for the winners.

At least, we don’t have to worry about vote buying or dagdag-bawas, the bane of Philippine elections. As former US President John F. Kennedy once joked, “I have just received the following wire from my generous Daddy. It says, ‘Dear Jack: Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I am going to pay for a landslide.’”

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people, “said American politician Walter Henry Judd. There won’t be a majority though in some parts of the country for the simple reason that there won’t even be a minority.

The lack of opposing candidates is a great danger to our democracy. It implies group think, where the people follow the line of thinking of unopposed candidates. It reveals the lack of imagination and alternatives on our citizenry. At least, in Bacolod and in Negros Occidental, voters can have a pick of if not the best but the better candidates.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 10, 2012.


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