“Let us use this opportunity to shape our future.”
Campaign period for national candidates commenced this Tuesday. Weeks prior, we already had a glimpse of the campaign promises of many of the candidates. Debates and interviews on online platforms, television, and radio were held. Across regions were also caravans and motorcades attended by supporters. Various infographics, articles, and promotional videos spread on social media platforms.
The election spectacle in the country has become pompous with the different creative gimmicks played by candidates. Setting aside the grand campaign materials and advocacies, what does the elections really mean to the people? How do we really see the incoming national elections?
For the past years, we have recorded 70 to 80 percent voter turnout. In 2019, the Commission on Elections noted around 46.9 million voters who actually voted, corresponding to 75.90 percent of the 61.8 million total voting population. During the 2016 Presidential elections, 81.95 percent of the voters went to vote. In 2010, reports noted that 38 million voters out of the 50.7 million, roughly 75 percent of registered voters, turned out to vote. During these years, I am sure that most, if not all, of us were aware that we were electing our new national leaders—leaders who, sooner or later, shaped not just the country’s political climate, but also the economic and socio-cultural aspects of the nation.
That said, 2022 seems no different. Should the elections be held in a pre-pandemic set-up, we can roughly expect more voters to come with the increased total registered voters recorded at around 63 million. However, this 2022 elections prove to be most crucial given our pandemic situation. More than the threat of COVID-19, voters will face a bigger challenge—electing the leader who will pave the way to recovery for the Philippines. Recall that for the past two years, we have experienced economic slumps, massive unemployment, delays in education, and health systems crisis. The country has been heavily pounded by the Delta and Omicron variants of the virus. Undeniably, various challenges to governance have arisen. Our health response to the pandemic has been criticized, applauded, and revised several times.
We are in extraordinary times. We need leaders who are capable and competent to resolve the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. For this, I cannot overemphasize how important the 2022 elections are. As I have said in my past articles, the outcome of the 2022 national elections will determine the path that will be taken by the country towards recovery. Will there be enough vaccines and medicines against COVID-19? Will there be sufficient health workers in hospitals? Will our hospitals and health facilities be more capable in meeting the demands for health care across regions? Will there be available jobs despite the pandemic? Will we be more self-sufficient in terms of food production? Will our farmers, fisherfolk, and workers have healthy and adequate food on their tables should the pandemic continue? Will there be adequate and speedy assistance in calamities? Will corruption be ever resolved? Will peace and order last? Will we be free from sovereignty and territorial disputes? Will the pandemic ever end?
I urge everyone to be more attentive to the political situation. If at all, I encourage everyone to take part in discourses that will bring out ideas and opinions that may challenge current perceptions towards our candidates. Let us hear out the pros and cons, dig into the families and background of the candidates, both past and present, and assess the needs of the country vis-a-vis the plans of the candidates. Keep in mind that we will be electing new leaders who will serve us and hold the reins for the next six years, post-COVID-19. With your candidates, ask yourselves, where will we be one, two, three, or six years from today?
In our search for the right ones, I strongly urge the public to discern carefully. More than that, I implore all registered voters to exercise your right to vote. This day comes once every six years. Use this opportunity to shape your future into what you want it to be. Vote wisely.