AS ADDED advice for the electorate as they prepare to exercise their valuable right to vote in the coming May elections, our column today has chosen a title which is not only informational but also a caution to voters to carefully study the various aspects relevant to the coming elections to guide them in voting wisely for the future of our country.

As in our past columns, we have reiterated several important considerations essential to the intelligent exercise by voters of their historic right of suffrage. The first such factor we had highlighted in our past columns were the three historic events in our country relating to good governance and democratic rights.

The first element here is the practice of cultural values, including the deeply rooted values of Filipino kinship and peer groups which strongly influence the way people vote for their candidates. The second aspect we emphasized here was the historic "Edsa People Power Revolution" 36 years ago whose gains were unfinished because the progress from this notable event was not sustained by various sectors and thus hopes for greater beneficial impact from this event were not continued.

The lesson here for the nation is the revival of the heroism of Filipinos in historic events such as the coming elections. The third factor we highlighted was the message that electoral events can strengthen governance if the citizenry exercise their capabilities as a people involved in public affairs. In addition, this historic people power role in governance should involve the youth which Jose Rizal called the future of our country.

The second critical message in our past columns included the major qualifications the electorate must seriously study and demand from the national and local candidates in the coming elections. The first element here candidates must possess is the strong moral character, integrity and honesty in public office. This will help address the historic negative culture of graft and corruption which have spread widely in public affairs.

The second element we highlighted was the relevant professional capabilities needed in public office, including compliance with the legal requirements by all candidates. The clouds of uncertainty on this aspect can undermine the performance of those who may enter public office.

The third element relates to the proven track record and expected acceptable performance of candidates who may have previous public service or related civil society work experiences. A fourth element expected of candidates is the integral leadership and management competence in public governance which can enable those in public office to effectively lead the citizenry especially in the many challenging demands of public service.

With these basic factors demanded for all candidates for public office, our column has also started to share essential aspects which the electorate must also be careful to hold all candidates accountable. These issues include the distinction between valid programs or misleading propaganda; realistic programs to address widespread poverty, graft and corruption and peace and order; clarification on questions raised on various political surveys, media and popularity; performance by various administrations and related other crucial issues which we will further discuss in our coming columns.