(The author is former Undresecretary and Chairman of Mindanao Economic Council (MedCo), now Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa)-Editor)
On May 9, 2022, we will elect a new set of 18,086 national and local officials across 14 regions and 7,640 islands of our archipelagic country, if we exclude the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal which is claimed, occupied and controlled by China.
After 187 years of having periodic national elections since 1935, and after 30 years of local elections since 1992, it appears not much have changed. Paradoxically, we are still hearing similar complaints about the ineffectivity of government, and its failure to provide basic needs of our countrymen. Until now, we are still shouting, even much louder than before, for change.
Election is a process of selecting the best men and women who can ably represent us and articulate our interests, concerns that matter most in our lives. Hence, the overarching question is who among the candidates is prepared with well-studied, realistic,doable and attainable plans, programs and projects that are responsive to the demands of time and circumstance including universal healthcare and hospital services for all; revitalization of agriculture and fishery; recovery of our lost coastline and ocean fishing areas, irrigation, and upgrading of our outdated educational system, and the interconnecting problems of our nation?
This 2022 election comes at the cusp of our recovery from Covid-19 and the vaccination of entire population; when our country is already drowning in staggering problems and saddled by P12.3-trillion indebtedness and with budget deficit that might compel the next administration to impose new and higher taxes to spur bigger revenues.
Who among the candidates have a package of solutions to the formidable economic and financial problems of our country?
This election comes also at the most critical moment when the world is shuddering on the brink of a full-scale biochemical, hypersonic nuclear war as a consequence of
the Russia-Ukraine war.
Considering that we cannot be immune from this clear and present danger, this evokes a question as to who among the candidates has the grasp of international security challenges and prepared with defense programs and policies for our country’s protection and survival?
Viewed from the prisms of our borderless world, we need not be a Cassandra to predict that the implications of intersecting problems arising from the Russia-Ukraine war will have far-reaching consequences.
Moreover, with the rise of China as the dominant power in Asia, with the strategic convergence of the United States, India, Japan and Australia in the region, and the Philippines now at the epicenter of cross-cutting economic, political and security issues, who among the candidates has the expertise in foreign relations and prepared with the strategic formula to resolve our maritime disputes, recover our island, fishing oceans and coastlines to protect and preserve our sovereignty and territorial integrity?
In today’s world, it is inevitable that the collateral damages of this catastrophic events will permeate countries by way of high inflation and borrowing interests rates, triggering increasing cost of imports of gas and oil, petroleum products, and commodities including rice and other food supplies.
Thirteen years from today or in 2035, our republic will have become 200 hundred years old. As it appears, not much has changed. It seems as if we merely had been riding on a merry-go-round, if not dancing in the rigodon choreographed by politicians motivated by self-interest.
While we were focused in the pursuit of our individual needs and happiness, we kept silent, com-placent and oblivious while politicians strengthen the ties that bind them,to perpetuate control of an “oligarchy-syndicated government”, and to retain monopoly of opportunities and resources.
What we are seeing from the conditions obtaining, it is undeniable that we have now reached a turning point in our lifetime as a democratic country.
We are now living in a complex and constantly changing world reshaped by advances in technology, including artificial intelligence requiring a new kind of leadership, knowledge, talents and skills.
Traditional leadership is no longer responsive to present-day realities.Antiquated ways have been overtaken by the morass of time and tide of events. To paraphrase Einstein, “Yesterday’s solutions cannot solve today’s problems.”
We need leaders who can stand up for what is right, and the nerve to rectify what is wrong. Leaders who won’t hesitate to undertake bold changes necessary for the betterment of the country.
We need leaders who understand our legal system, who know that laws should be properly enforced for the protection of the population.
We cannot just take a chance, and entrust posterity to those who practice money politics. Vote buying emasculates our free will. Selling our votes is a surrender of our individual sovereignty. It deprives us of our personal freedom of choice.
The Philippines is an archipelagic country. Hence, who among the candidates is prepared with a plan for our maritime development to enhance inter-island connectivity, facilitate delivery of government services, encourage inter-island trade, enhance communication, promote understanding and peaceful coexistence among inhabitants.
The Philippines is a multi-tribal country, in need of a common denominator for peaceful coexistence. The BARMM is already established. However, it would take a long way to determine if it is the ultimate solution to the Mindanao problem.
We need leaders with a vision about what kind of a country would they like the Philippines to be during their incumbency.
Who among those candidates aspiring to lead us has that vision and who knows how to lead and guide us through the way forward to attain that vision? Who among the candidates has THE SOLUTIONS?
While we are not looking for a saint to vote into office, prudence and due diligence dictate we should refrain from voting for candidates who are engaged in vote buying.
Voters who sell their votes will later realize too late that the backlash is a lifetime of regrets. As often expressed in vernacular, “Ang isang daglit na kaligayahan, ang kapalit ay buong buhay na pagsisi at kahirapan.”
Government is the system, or group of people normally consisting of legislature, executive, and judiciary governing an organized community like a country, province, city or municipal, and barangay. Local governments are the backbone of the nation. They are involved in practically everything we require in our daily lives.
Accordingly, politics is an art and science of government, while election is a contest of ideas, talents and skills on who can better lead and serve. It is the system or process of choosing the most qualified candidate who can better lead, serve and preserve It is a process of selecting a candidate whom we can vest with temporarily with the authority to represent our interests, and decide on issues that concerns us most , and on matters required in our daily lives.