WHEN President Rodrigo Duterte sought to postpone the holding of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections for fear that personalities linked to the illegal drug trade or funded by illegal drug traders would win, he showed a lack of confidence in the ability of voters to choose the right people to govern them.
The same thinking is behind the call by some officials for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to name barangay officials suspected of having links to the illegal drug trade supposedly to prevent narco-politicians from wiggling into barangay level governance.
The call is wrong for many reasons, including the ones enunciated by a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 official and even by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. If the police have proof that a barangay official has links to the illegal drugs trade, then they have to file the appropriate cases in court against the said official. And PDEA 7 is correct also. Naming the barangay official could jeopardize the cases being built up against him or her.
But the other argument against the call is that it is not even necessary. Of all the people who know better their barangay officials, it is the residents in the barangay themselves. The police naming narco-politicians in the barangay is superfluous and unnecessary. We just have to trust the capability of voters in the barangays to choose the right leaders for them.
There is, of course, a good reason for the low regard for voters. The belief that voters can be bought was not plucked from thin air but is based on experience. There is also the tendency of voters to gloss over the failings of a candidate because, at one time or another, they were recipients of his or her benevolence a-la Robin Hood.
That characterization of the voters, though, may not apply to the majority. While those who sell their votes or are fanatical could sometimes make the difference in elections, the truth is that they are but the minority. They do influence the outcome of elections at times, but only in cases where the race is close.
Majority of the voters are actually capable of making the right choices most of the time.