Maungca: Reclaiming Politics (?) 

Maungca: Reclaiming Politics (?) 

The Barangay and SK elections are right around the corner. This is a great opportunity to contest power in the locality through our democracy. But realpolitik is not that ideal. There hasn’t been a time where political power is significantly consolidated in political dynasties than at the present. The current President of the country, PBMM and his family, has a stronghold in the north, our sitting Vice President BP Sara on the other hand and her family controls the Davao region.

Prevalence of Political Dynasties

According to the PCIJ, 149 out of 302 districts in the Philippines were ruled by political dynasties in the 2019 midterm elections. This trend reinforces the idea that political power in the country is highly concentrated within a few families, further entrenching political parties that these families belong to. (Source: PCIJ, "The Dominance of Political Dynasties in the 2019 Elections," 2020).

High Incumbency Rates

The Philippines has one of the highest incumbent re-election rates in the world. According to the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), over 80% of incumbent members of Congress were re-elected in the 2019 midterm elections. This indicates the difficulty for new political actors to penetrate the political arena and highlights the entrenched nature of political power in the country. (Source: ANFREL, "Philippines Midterm Elections 2019 Final Report," 2019).

All Politics is Local

Granted that all these political dynasties source their power from the barangays, they will ensure to maintain their hold in their respective areas. This scenario proves to be a roadblock against progressives hoping to throw their hat into the political arena and try to contest democracy in these spaces.

Grassroots governance

Barangays are the smallest administrative divisions in the Philippines, and the barangay officials are responsible for the delivery of basic services such as healthcare, sanitation, and public safety. The barangay elections, therefore, have a direct impact on the daily lives of Filipinos, particularly those living in rural areas. The outcome of the elections can determine the quality and efficiency of services that will be provided to the people.

Youth in Governance

The barangay elections can also serve as a platform for the youth to participate in politics and gain political representation. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the youth population (15-30 years old) comprised 28.8% of the total population in 2020. With the right to vote and run for office, the youth have the potential to become a significant force in shaping the future of the country.

Democracy and governance: The barangay elections are essential in maintaining a functioning democracy and governance at the grassroots level. It provides an opportunity for citizens to exercise their right to vote, hold their elected officials accountable, and participate in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives. It also promotes transparency and accountability in local governance.

According to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the youth played a significant role in the previous barangay elections in 2018. Around 12% of the total number of candidates for barangay positions were youth candidates. Of the 789,831 candidates, 89,478 were aged 18-24, and 190,682 were aged 25-34.

Moreover, the COMELEC also reported that there were over 2.6 million registered voters aged 18-24 and 8.8 million registered voters aged 25-34 in the 2018 barangay elections. This statistic shows the potential impact of the youth in reclaiming politics and participating in local governance.

The upcoming barangay elections in October 2023 have significant implications for grassroots governance, political representation, and democracy and governance in the Philippines. With the youth being a significant population in the country, they have the potential to play a vital role in shaping the outcome of the elections and in promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance at the local level.

I end my article posing a challenge through a quote by Jose Rizal to the second-liners of leaders in our country; the youth.

“Where are the youth

who will consecrate

their budding years,

their idealism and

enthusiasm for the welfare

of their country?

Where are the youth

who will generously

pour out their blood to

wash away so much shame,

so much crime,

so much abomination?

Pure and spotless

must the victim be that the

sacrifice may be acceptable.

Where are you,

youth who will embody in

yourselves the vigor

of life that has lifted

our veins,

the purity of ideas that

has been contaminated

in our hearts?

We await you, youth.

Come, for we await you.” -J. Rizal


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