DEMOCRACY & OUR VOTES
I- Political Change
I may consider that the best way to change the political system in our country is to first transform ourselves – the voters.
We know that our country is no stranger to political turmoil; corruption in politics is so widespread that often the person elected to office is not the most qualified. The root of all-evil in dirty politics is – “Vote Buying” which is rampant during elections. Therefore, as a mature citizens of a democratic country, we need to educate our voters “how sacred our votes are”.
Vote buying takes place in the rural areas. Thus – it is extremely hard to cast a watchful eye over the democratic process. Not surprisingly, the country is governed by the same individuals, whose primary role is to buy votes. It is almost impossible for a qualified person/leader to enter politics under this particular scenario. Even a mere candidate for councilor in a small barangay needs half a million pesos to spend in election time.
But I still believed that every Filipinos deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Perhaps we should adapt new ways of thinking. Therefore, we should not look back to the negative side of politics instead we look for an answer to correct the wrong side of politics.
The spirit of change can only be achieved if the people participate in an honest to goodness election. It is for us to choose the future we are creating today.
We should educate ourselves/others and must take serious actions against the ineffective democracy and vote-buying that is taking place in our politics. We should fight for the introduction of new faces and the purging of old, corrupted politicians. In addition, we should form organizations which aim to control vote-buying, and sponsor programs to educate the impoverished half of the Philippine population. If reform is not taken soon, the country’s political system will spiral deep downward, with the economy and our country’s international status following closely behind.
It may not be too difficult to mobilize voters to come to vote but it is hard to prevent people to receive money or sell their votes. Vote buying is a big problem not only in our country but also to other poor neighboring countries in South East Asia. Voter education should be focused on educating voters in principle of how to select the good candidates. We must educate them that unwise votes could ruin our country and democracy. Voter education is critical and can be done in many different ways. Our challenge is to educate people about issues, processes and candidates and to also encourage good candidates to put themselves forward to run for office. We all have to work to make elections meaningful. There will never be perfect voter education in any nation but education is an on going and never ending process that begins in the schools through civics education and should continue throughout our voting lives.
For me, we don’t need charter change to move our beloved country forward, we only need laws against vote buying to begin to solve the problem. Then they need to be enforced.
What is the key information to convince people to make a better choice? We will all have different opinions about which is the “better choice“. Our goal is to give voters the opportunity to educate themselves about issues and candidates so that they can make their own informed choice. Just because voters are educated doesn’t mean they will also make the same choice that you or I might.
It cant be denied that others refused to participate. But we need to find out why they are “not interested”. Until we understand the reasons, it’s difficult to motivate people. And, there will always be people who simply will never participate, no matter what you do. Education is the key. Let us work together and help others understand why it is important to vote and how and why they are directly affected by who is elected to an office.
In democracy assumes that things will never be perfect. And it allows for a structure that helps people deal with those weaknesses to secure freedom.
Democracy is about more than just candidates and elections. It means being an active participant in the society surrounding us. It means that we try to build a series of communities that function as they work together. A part of that will be politics but more of it will be working to stay informed about how issues relate to each other. The important is there are a lot of avenues that we can do and many ways is the fulcrum of change.
Furthermore, we should let our youths participate the process and motivate them to become leaders. Today, our youths are the next foundation towards a new beginning. Lets educate them that voting is symbolic, It symbolizes our voice in a larger conversation. And it is important for young people to be heard because they offer a fresh and honest perspective on issues. After all, the youths are our future leaders for a better Philippines.
Controversies of electoral fraud is somewhat discourages us to participate in the forth coming electoral process and to set right this kind of attitude, first and foremost the current electoral system should be transformed into a credible institution that can foster voter participation. Electoral reform should be introduced; cleaning up the mess of those involved in electoral maneuverings or even overhaul the entire Commission on Election (municipal, city, province) and designate new personalities that could probably win back the trust of the Filipino people to our country’s electoral processes. Only then that we could perhaps gain back the momentum of hope in exercising our right of suffrage as the fundamental nature of a truly democratic nation.
Many friends asked me why I am so involved with the OAV, my answer is very simple, “I want to exercise my basic right as a responsible Filipino by casting my vote”.
Why OFW Vote? Overseas Filipino Workers community will be most likely the best political electorate, we are outside the Philippine soil, no politicians can court us or buy us out, we know in silence what is really happening in our country. We have the money, our remittances can be used as a tool to influence our families and relatives back home in choosing the best public servant that could properly lead our country to progress. Absentee voters can be a political muscle someday that could probably put back the shattered pieces of Philippine politics, “a cleansing vote” shall we say. All of these can only be achieved with our participation. That is why I am an ardent supporter of the OAV and I am urging OFW’s to register and be an absentee voter.
This is a big challenge to all of us, the OAV is already in placed, it only needs our intense participation, and we should show to the world wherever we are that we are Filipinos.
OFW remittances helps a lot in rescuing and uplifting economic condition in our country and this contribution could not be discredited vis a vis as to our role in nation building. Migrant Workers is perhaps the biggest sector of Philippine Society and yet we do not have proper representation in government policy-making bodies that oversees OFW issues and concerns, more particularly in the Lower House of Congress.
We know in reality that the issues related to sad stories of our Filipina Domestic Helpers, Contract Substitution, Illegal Recruiters, Proper Legal Assistance and many more were not given proper attention from our government.
In perspective, all of these problems are because the OFW sector is in need of a political mandate and we have to admit that we lack the virtue of patriotism among our ranks. We continue to advocate changes but we ourselves are fragmented on issues and trends that concern OFW’s in general. Following this cynical political judgment, OFW groups are scattered around the globe, how could we ever unite to pursue a common grounds in our fight for OFW recognition and Empowerment even for the fact that there is already a chance for us to put up a national leadership through the existing OAV law?
Do we need physically together to attain this vision? The answer is NO; all we need is attachments even in the absence of physical aspect. We only need to register as an absentee voter and through a unified collective effort we can build the foundation for the creation of an OFW National Leadership. This can only be achieved if others will give way to a so-called unification process. Then all of the above mentioned problems would be addressed accordingly.
Do we need a solid OFW Party List group to address these problems in a political point of view? In my opinion the answer is Yes! But the problem continues, in the previous elections many OFW groups vying for a seat in Congress, but nobody knows they even exist. First, the lack of awareness campaign of what party list is all about. Second, we don’t know the names of OFW groups wanting to send their members to Congress. That’s the reason most of us usually skip the space in our ballot for the party list representative because we don’t know who they are.
One of the OFW Party List Group that didn’t make it in Congress was GABAY formed in Saudi Arabia. Even the Migrante Sectoral Party whose membership scattered in other countries didn’t make it too.
There must be a coalition or forged alliance between OFW party list groups/OFW organizations and form at least one solid party to be elected in Congress or else we will faced the same embarrassing result and be constantly unrecognized. One solid vote for one particular party can achieve a needed percentage votes in a seat to Congress that will represent us in crafting laws advancing OFW special interests.
This suggested coalition composed of OFW groups worldwide and local NGO’s or OFW Advocates at home must formed a council within its leadership and create a committees such as: welfare and protection, reintegration, legal assistance and a screening committee that will serve as a panel in the selection of a qualified representative to any governing boards that oversees OFW concerns and among others related to OFW issues.
We should be aware that if we have a seat in Congress, our representative are considered elected Members of the House and as such, entitled to the same deliberative rights, salaries, and emoluments as the regular Members of the House of representatives. They shall serve for a term of three (3) years with a maximum of three (3) consecutive terms. Armed with legislative powers we can acquire funds through legislation that can be used as financial support to our OFW in distress worldwide. We can even have a national headquarters and welfare assistance facilities to our returning OFW in distress.
All of these depend on our OFW leaders to embrace the so-called coalition and set aside personal interest and look deeply for the good and welfare of the OFW Sector.
I still believed the possibility that OFW vote can make a significant difference in the coming election, only if our heart dictates the importance of our consitutional right then we should register and be an Absentee Voter.
Whether we like it or not, WE are part of Philippine Politics.
GO OUT, REGISTER AND VOTE!
- Re-enfranchising OFWs (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Challenges to party-list system: more filtering and less ambiguities in the law (ivotecounts.wordpress.com)
- Comelec reinstates 238,000 OFWs on absentee voters’ list (globalnation.inquirer.net)