Whoever wins in next Monday’s balloting will definitely mean change for our future. The question is: will that change be for better or worse. It will all depend on how a bigger number of us will decide the future of our motherland.
If we would believe the results of pre-election surveys – which had a measly 700 to 4,000 respondents as against 54.5 million registered voters – it would seem that the change would be radical not only in the political but as well as in economic or social conditions, institutions, and values.
If the support for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte drops substantially as a consequence of the allegations regarding his unexplained wealth and either Sen. Grace Poe or Vice President Jejomar Binay takes over the lead, there would still be substantial changes, particularly when the opposition emerges as winner.
We cannot take Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago out of the race yet. Her loyal supporters from among the young Filipinos may still be capable of pulling a surprise if their other choice makes wrong moves in the next few days.
If the tide turns and the Liberal Party standard bearer zooms to clinch the presidency, there would still be changes but likely toward more of the same policies and values we have had in the last six years to keep the momentum of economic growth.
But we have to be reminded that this election is not only for the president and vice president in the next six years. While we are too preoccupied with issues hounding each of the candidates, we should also be equally discerning in choosing candidates for Congress and local government positions.
Should we continue entrusting our future to the few families controlling the political and business activities in the towns, provinces, and regions? It is about time to raise our voices and send a powerful message to the political lords that we are taking the elections seriously…that we are no longer pawns, who blindly accepts their dole-outs during campaign seasons to keep them in power…that we have matured as voters.
By this time, the candidates – from the president down to the town councilor – must have presented their good side and what they promise to do. Their opponents must likewise have shown their negative side.
This final week into Election Day is a crucial period, particularly for those who have yet to decide who to vote for.
The events in the last few days – even if you consider them as publicity stunts by a survey tail-ender – cannot simply be dismissed and swept under the rug. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, an independent candidate for vice president, may be a poisoned source, and details of the bank records of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte that he had made public were apparently unlawfully acquired, but it had its redeeming value.
Trillanes’ expose, which Duterte initially denied the existence of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) account on Julia Vargas branch, was later confirmed to be in existence. It was yet another opportunity in which Duterte was caught lying, not only about the existence of his bank account but in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as well.
Some of us were annoyed at how the triumvirate of Trillanes and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel dug into the allegations leveled against Vice President Jejomar Binay, particularly his unexplained billions of pesos in bank accounts, most of which were cautiously opened under other persons’ names, and his multibillion-peso worth of properties.
Their relentless investigations at the Senate, which Binay had consistently dismissed as politically-motivated and part of the black propaganda against him, could most probably be the reason for the Vice President’s poor ratings in the surveys.
But while Cayetano and Pimentel were with Trillanes in exposing Binay as incorrigibly corrupt and unfit to become president, they have changed lanes and are now defenders of Duterte who, it turns out, has been tagged as the “Binay of Mindanao” for his alleged undeclared wealth.
Duterte’s critics have translated his slogan “Change is coming” not as “pagbabago” but as “pabago-bago” because he keeps on contradicting himself. You cannot hold on to what he says today because of the likelihood that it would change tomorrow. The only thing that he has not contradicted so far is his confession of being a womanizer and a killer.
He says something and does another. While he promises to stop crime, he admits to killing even the innocents to bring this about. While he vows to end corruption, he has promised to release public officials facing plunder charges.
What makes Duterte a more dangerous choice is the thuggery displayed in social media by his fanatic followers. Like their icon, they curse and even wish anti-Duterte women to get raped. Take this Zaldy Garcia (I don’t know if that is his real name on Facebook), he said: “Kahit manyakin nya pa lahat ng babae sa pinas kahit murahin nya pa ng paulit ulit si pope kahit patayin niya pa pati walang kasalanan kahit reypin pa niya ang mga patay kahit nakawin nya lahat ng pera ng gobyerno kahit papagbayarin nya pa tayo ng tax sa NPA basta para sa pagbabago duterte parin ako.”
I really hope and pray that in this final week before the elections, the tide would turn for real change, a meaningful change for better, not for worse.
We need a president who will seriously uplift the economy and raise the level of discourse on relevant issues. We don’t need a president who says one thing now and another later, one who takes everything as a joke.
I would rather have an ailing Miriam Defensor-Santiago and a half-baked Grace Poe, but hopefully a Mar Roxas, in Malacañang but not a Binay or a Duterte. Indeed, we need change in a lot of ways. But the least we need is a change for the worse.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as well as international magazines like The Economist have recognized the Philippine economy’s progress in the last five years. We cannot afford to lose the momentum of growth and go back to the dark ages.
Of course, we also have to do our part as responsible citizens to pay the correct taxes, particularly the professionals, and to keep vigilance against abuses by people in power.
As what John F. Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address – considered among the best in American history: “Ask now what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
We also need to change our attitude and values as responsible Filipino citizens to show our concern for the country and the next generations.