THE May 2016 presidential and local elections are barely 10 months from now. The following are the major issues that will decide not only the fate of the candidates but also the future of this country.

1. Graft and corruption

Plunder of people’s money remains the leading issue in next year’s polls. The colossal overprice and kickbacks allegedly received by Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Mayor Junjun and his wife Elenita from different projects in Makati City and the family’s unexplained wealth as revealed in the official report released by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, will shatter the vice-president’s dream for the presidency.

The issue of corruption will also adversely affect those local candidates who are facing graft charges in the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan.

2. Political dynasties

Art. II, Section 26 of the Constitution clearly prohibits political dynasties to avoid concentration of too much political and economic power in the hands of a clan or family. Because no law has been passed by Congress defining “political dynasty,” national and local politicians have openly violated the spirit of the charter by fielding their wives, children and siblings either simultaneously or by succession or both in the same or different public positions.

Of all the announced or potential presidential aspirants, the worst violator of this constitutional ban is Vice-President Jejomar Binay whose family has ruled Makati City for almost 30 years like a monarchy.

Rodrigo Duterte’s family has governed Davao City for more than 20 years with the father succeeded by his daughter Sarah, and now his son Paolo waiting for the father to vacate his seat as City Mayor.

3. Extra-judicial executions

Because of the recurring problems of peace and order, some politicians, notably Duterte, catering to popular demands, are now advocating the return of the death penalty as a simplistic solution to solve criminality.

But Duterte could not wait for the official restoration of the death penalty after judicial trial and review by the Supreme Court. He proudly claims that his city is the safest in the country because the solution to crimes is to “kill all criminals” (PDI, May 16, 2015).

This is attractive to those who have been impatient with our slow judicial system. People must, however, remember that violence begets violence and that to achieve peace by killing human beings is against the tenets of Christianity.

Graft and corruption, political dynasties, extra-judicial executions, peace in Mindanao, environmental degradations like coal mining, and other urgent concerns are issues that will dominate next years’ polls.

The voters must not be swayed by survey ratings but must exercise discernment and elevate the democratic dialogue to a higher level. As in 2010, the 2016 elections will be crucial to our country and our people. --Democrito C. Barcenas