‘Register to vote.’ ‘Exercise your right’. ‘Be the change you want to be’.
In a country that is being screwed by incompetency, these are phrases many – us included – have repeated. 61 million have heeded the call, surpassing the targeted 59 million registered voters for the 2022 elections.
Suppose you’re one of these folks, then good for you. But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. Here comes the hardest part: choosing who actually to vote for.
You see, being a registered voter means jacksh*t if we don’t actually value our vote. By ‘value’, we’re not only referring to the issue of ‘vote-buying’. It’s about voting for a candidate because we legitimately think they are the best.
Not because our parents influenced us. Or a conspiracy theorist on YouTube. Neither should our ballot be charmed by grand promises of ‘change for the better’. That is the default spiel for any candidate. We learned this the hard way in 2016 when we voted Duterte simply because we were angry at the ‘system’, and here came this unorthodox ‘macho’ loudmouth who promised to rehabilitate it.
Few bothered to ask how he was ever going to fulfill his lavish promises (*cough* 3 to 6 months *cough*) or if they were even possible, to begin with. We heard the jokes, the bravado, and that was enough. Fast forward to today, many have come to regret their decision.
But the purpose of this piece is not to gloat, to throw accusations of ‘we told you so’ or ‘you should’ve known better’. No amount of research and prep can predict the future. But we can mitigate our losses if we bother to ask questions, not get carried away, and listen to the facts from well-verified sources.
Campaign season is still a bit far off, but it doesn’t take an analyst to see who has aspirations. We have the ever-shifting trio of father-daughter-glorified alalay, the absentee senator and his elder statesmen colleagues, the ambitious mayor, the hesitant VP, and the son of a former dictator.
One of these people will win, and they will determine the future of a country that has already lost so much. Our next president will either give Filipinos a sense of redemption, or grind us further into the ground.
But before any of that happens, we will get to decide. That is the beauty of democracy: we have the power to choose people who will serve us. So here’s hoping we do our homework, ask the real questions, and make our vote truly matter when 2022 rolls along.