FOUR days to go and Filipinos will ink their decisive votes. Election is not a peaceful day for some places as history reminds us but we only hope that our law enforcers and concerned civic organizations and individuals have done enough to suppress all election-related dangers. We can only ask for a clean and honest election but as to the choice of worthy candidates, we have no control of it.
Clean and honest election means that there would be no irregularities in the conduct of election-from the voting process, counting of votes, to the proclamation of winners. If it takes a coin to decide a winner, then let it be, as along as the counting of votes was accurate. Irregularities in election include the ruthless “dagdag-bawas” practice, flying voters, ghost voters, collusion of election staff and candidates, and the like.
Filipinos are so ingenious they could always think of ways to manipulate the system. Law enforcers must also be wary of supporters posting themselves outside the school or voting locations who scare voters not supporting their candidates.
Many of us would complain about not being wise in casting votes. Being wise for many is not voting for those who have been sitting in their position for a very long time, voting for those involved in corruption, plunder, and illegal drugs calling those who do as “stupid”.
Yet we should also understand that people vote according to their acquired values influenced by their culture. Poor people oftentimes vote for the candidate who has given them money. For a person who knows that the candidate is a corrupt official, he/she may view the voter as unwise. For the economically poor voter, such move is not stupid or foolish at all. It is because he/she values the money given to him/her.
He/she may even think it is a good move because of the view that all politicians are of the same flock. For other voters who put high regard in blood and family, they would strongly support a candidate who is a member of their family even though that candidate does not have a good record of administration.
Filipinos also value caring because of their fondness of relationship, and they would definitely favor a candidate who have visited them regardless of his/her record than the rivals, even with superb political platform, who neither showed their shadows in their homes nor stepped in their streets.
We have created and developed a culture that focus on satisfying selfish tendencies. For money, it is difficult for poor people not to accept a five hundred peso or a thousand bill because it can save the worry of the day’s basic needs. Poverty is a culture and our government officials have not done enough to eradicate it. And we cannot just alter the system created by poverty because to change this view, poverty must be eliminated first. It is wrong then to call them stupid voters because they think it is the right thing to do based on their grasp of things.
A responsible voter is someone who puts national interest ahead of other interests such as family, friendship, relationship, among others. Again, one cannot adopt this principle in one day (May 13) because the culture is already part of the voters for so long. Change the mindset of family first among Filipinos before they can understand the meaning of national interest over others. Faith and religion are values we hold dear and if a candidate, no matter how good is he/she, inflicts insult to a religion or a faith practice, a voter will certainly have a change of heart in his/her voting preferences.
Old candidates oftentimes win because of their familiarity to the people. Voters do not mostly rely on the candidates’ platforms because they would always hear negative remarks on all candidates. Integrity, as a value, is lost among the politicians and Filipinos depend on other reference in voting. Not all candidates have low integrity though but because opposing candidates throw dirt to their rivals, the public do not have choice but doubt the uprightness of all.
Filipinos manner of voting reflects our culture and values and the result of the election reflects the same. There is no such thing as stupid or wise voter. There is only responsible voter. Election is about putting our highest regard to the national interest, the country’s fate. It is about nationalism and patriotism. Casting a vote, by itself, is an indication of nationalism.
If we want our Filipino voters to become responsible voters, we should educate them of nationalism or love of country. We must focus on helping the public in rearranging their priorities or values putting country before family and self. Do we have stories of Filipinos sacrificing their lives for the sake of the country like the Americans do? Developing a culture takes courage and sacrifice.
We only have control on the cleanliness and honesty of the election process. This we must ensure. When the election process is conducted in fairness and truth, candidates will be more accepting of the results. The public is expecting the same, a clean and honest election as what the Filipino public demands and deserves.