National Elections Go Beyond the Link of Color

by Angel Grace D. Untalan, APRIL 2022

Electing candidates in seats of high power should be accorded great weight since it carries the duty to maintain the public policy and public order in the country.

For one, an elected president enjoys a monopoly in the field of foreign relations, as the determination of foreign policies is vested only in the executive department.

In these times where other countries sought to dispute our sovereign rights and warfare looms from various parts of the world, it is only prudent to choose a candidate who is not just someone who can read or write because the duty of a president during incumbency requires far-reaching capabilities that goes beyond economic, legal, and political literacy.

An elected senator, on the other hand, will have the duties of crafting laws, scrutinizing annual budgets, conducting checks and balances among other government branches, ratifying treaties entered by the government, expressing position relative to national issues, judging in impeachment trials, and declaring a state of war as necessary, among others.

Congressional and local candidates, which include mayoral and gubernatorial officials should equally warrant precise scrutiny since big picture improvements are usually associated with good local governance and extraordinary micromanaging efforts.

Social awareness and our lookout

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The gravity of election consequences requires us to have a working knowledge of external factors affecting the integrity of electoral processes. Citizens should not just concern themselves on the matter of color or individual beliefs alone. National elections affect the future of the Philippines. The result of which has intergenerational implications that would determine whether the country will go further in debt or boom.

The notion that elections should not yield public discussions on the daily, in my belief, is of no merit. Tomorrow depends on a select people that would be entrusted with running a government. Being apolitical is a luxury that a citizen of a third-world country cannot afford. Principles and high moral regard should be instilled in citizens to safeguard against pressing pre-election issues.

Disinformation, historical negationism

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In 2021, a scholar noted the prevalence of historical negationism or the instances where facts related to history are manufactured or twisted to serve a political purpose beginning in 2016. The dawn of disinformation observed by the academe and historians alike reveals a web of networked propaganda stemming from various social media sites which are produced to alter the public’s perception of candidates and to present a distorted version of historical facts ‘downplaying or outrightly denying kleptocracy, human rights violations, including the exaggeration of achievements’ for purposes of securing a favorable political bid. This phenomenon requires careful attention if we intend to enjoy a dignified election.

Election-related violence, vote-buying

Another scholar argued that it is the high level of turmoil that forged a political subculture that values a rational adaptation to an environment where law and order cannot be trusted. It was said that this subculture provokes feuds and vendetta resulting in incidents of pre-election violence evident since 1965. From 1984 to 1986, more than three hundred people lost their lives to pre-election incidents.

As aptly stated by another set of scholars in 2004, pre-election violence creates disruption which influences the decision-making of a particular community of voters. This may result in a delegitimized process of citizen participation due to the failure of elections.

Indeed, election-related violence should not be taken lightly because it manifests existing and intended acts of corruption, such as but not limited to, the need to finance campaign funds, warlord politicians protecting their interests over illegal economic activities, and blood debts brought about by rival political clans, among others.

Ultimately, politicians in developing democracies can also resort to fraud and vote-buying, notwithstanding pre-election violence as a tool to shape turnout or vote choice or to keep elections from occurring. In particular, monetary-based vote-buying is deemed to occur in a close election race. It starts way before an election for the constituents to slowly develop dependency and loyalty to political candidates. As such, we should encourage the dissemination of information relating to the adverse effects of vote-buying to enhance citizen awareness of their voting responsibilities.

Future at stake

A new administration will indubitably result in changes to the country’s economic, educational, fiscal, and healthcare policies, governance strategies, as well as local and national priorities, among others. The election process is a continuing one, anchored on our constitutionally vested right to vote.

The results of the upcoming election will breed enlightenment, regardless of the color of the winning party, or the losing one for that matter. However, progress will only come to fruition if we are to choose wisely. Election, in a way, is a movement toward the vision of a better future.

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About the writer:

Angel Grace D. Untalan. A Legal Management graduate with an inclination to pursue the field of higher arts. She is moderately comfortable with social interaction, but can also relish her time off from the crowd. Her works are influenced by distinguished screenwriters such as Gene Roddenberry, George R.R. Martin, and Quentin Tarantino. She aspires to become a law practitioner at The Hague, who has published papers in a Scopus-indexed journal at some point in the future.

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