#Eleksyon2016: Beyond the vote


I tried and failed – obviously didn’t try hard enough – to register for biometrics with Comelec. The ultimate refusal to do biometrics was also a reaction to the fact that for two elections, in 2010 and 2013, those PCOS machines did not make me believe any more or less in the credibility of elections, or in my vote being counted. The CenPeg studies are numerous and difficult to dismiss (CenPeg.org).

One vote not counted is one vote too many. Votes cast before the people even start voting? I wouldn’t be surprised.

My vote is to not vote. Willfully and intentionally. Not a boycott vote, not a None-Of-The-Above (NOTA) vote. But a refusal to acknowledge the voting system in this country as a credible measure of public pulse and opinion, nor as the basis of what or who the nation needs at any given point.

Many remain romantic about their one vote changing the world. I have no such delusions.

A stand for issues
The decision not to vote came with its requisite apathy. But also I realized that when you’re removed from the electoral system, you view the elections differently, with no romance, no blindness.

It forces one to keep biases in check: all the candidates I have spoken kindly about in this space. I said I’d vote for Grace Poe for President if she ran in 2022; I said Roxas still had time to prove that the lack of compassion in his handling of Typhoon Haiyan operations was a mere fluke; I talked about Duterte beyond the p*tanginas; I talked about how the bias against Binay is a very class-based, unthinking, matuwid-na-daan operation that too many fell for.

It helped that my dealbreakers were always clear. I’m pro-divorce (non-negotiable), anti-mining (but open to a really good responsible mining program), anti-Charter Change for foreign ownership (non-negotiable). I demand a cultural platform that has a sense of the needs of the sector (not some poor excuse to talk about culture in passing).

All the candidates (so far) are anti-divorce, pro-mining, pro-ChaCha, and have no real credible cultural platforms as of this writing.

Then there are the specific issues: higher wages for teachers, better schools, better education; farmers’ right to land, subsidies, food; Lumad rights to their ancestral lands and demilitarization; women’s rights in the workplace; no to contractualization; higher wages for all, tax reform for the working class, free health care.

Compassionate treatment of citizens, a sense of urgency about the state of nation which really is, no matter what matuwid na daan says, in the midst of a systems breakdown.

Beyond spin, words
Forget for a moment Duterte’s foul mouth and human-rights violations; forget Roxas’s elistism, lack of compassion and anti-poor rhetoric; forget Poe’s unexplained loyalties to the US and utter lack of experience in governance; Miriam’s pro-Marcos and health problems; Binay’s corruption charges. Forget all that, and what you would be looking at is track record.

And Poe has none. She has no track record to speak of. She was just beginning to flex her muscles in the Senate; less than three years after, she wanted the presidency. She’s running on nothing but notions of being clean and honest, but those are not what a good leader makes, yes? That’s why we voted PNoy into the presidency and where did that lead us? Credit ratings and a whole lot of hunger and need and neglect.

Roxas’ burden is that his track record is filled with major missteps and mistakes, ones that he does not admit. A major dealbreaker: the refusal to distribute relief goods to people in Tacloban unless they are part of a barangay (voters) list. This, in the midst of the devastation and death immediately after Haiyan. Sure he did better in the storms after Haiyan, but that’s what he needed to do, yes?

Another dealbreaker: when Kidapawan farmers were violently dispersed, Roxas asked: “Who was funding them?” This reminds of how he is nothing but his social class: an haciendero from the sugar bloc of Negros, from the wealthy class, whose notions of public service is embroiled in protecting his class interests. Look at his Bukid Revolution and find that what it is premised on are loans, instead of subsidies; cash- and food-for-work, instead of real free social services. We forget that the poverty of majority is borne of the haciendero life that Roxas wishes for all of us.

I say it again: the worst vote is one for Roxas and matuwid-na-daan, which has made inequality worse, and has made more people suffer by its denial of the real state of the nation, giving it an excuse to act with no sense of urgency – hungry farmers be damned. The second worst vote is Poe: because she has been unable to explain her US loyalties, but worse, because she has been unable to explain how she’s even going to do all that she says. A good script is not what a President makes.

What is said and done
This is about Duterte and Binay. The appeal of both is what they have done on the ground, what they have done for Davao and Makati, what they have proven as far as track records are concerned, how that translates to a national platform for governance.

The track record of Duterte is one that is mostly about peace and order, cleaning up government, and not much else. This is also Duterte’s downfall – one cannot sacrifice human rights for peace and order, because then it means condoning extrajudicial killings and summary executions, then it means sacrificing our freedoms. You cannot be free when with one pull of a trigger, someone unilaterally judged as guilty can be killed.

Binay, meanwhile, is really the man to beat if you’re looking at track record at all. I taught in the University of Makati for a year, and while I was critical of the services teachers and students were receiving, I’d be hard put to deny that it is far more than any other city provides, far more than any other President has tucked under his belt. The free health care and free education are real. It is unlike any that exists anywhere else in this country: not for Duterte’s Davao, not for Roxas’s Capiz.

Binay’s platform is very clear about its Social Protection for the Poor, one that talks about how these Makati services will go national. It’s the only platform that talks about real solutions to problems, working both with large-scale systemic fixes and caring for people on the ground who are disenfranchised by these problems.

One of my students asked me: if you were going to vote, why would you vote for Binay? Because I want to know what poverty will look like once we don’t have to worry about health care and education, food and housing. I want to know what will change in the country when we do not have to worry about dying from poverty, from sickness, from government neglect.

Of course we’re not the ones who die from those things at all; but there lies the rub: a vote for yourself is obviously not necessarily a vote for the people who are in the most dire of circumstances, those in most need.

The bias against Binay is the cross that the middle and wealthy classes must bear, where you know as well as I do that if he were more pogi, more suwabe, more Inglesero; if he were part of the elite and the landed, the educated classes; he would not have been pilloried the way he has been. And maybe we’d all be going beyond the rhetoric and black propaganda and reading platforms and researching track records.

But that’s just me. What do I know? I’m such a dilettante at this.


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  1. Dale Gozar on

    I get that you prefer not to vote and just be an observant. But I don’t agree why you rather vote a candidate who greed for power (political dynasty) and money steal from people they are suppose to serve, than somebody who kill bad elements in society inorder to protect His own people.

    Sad state we are in – no choice because both are viewed as a villain. While others is clearly incompetent, inexperienced and old/sick/weak.

    Hinde rin naman po pwede wala iboto sa election (you) because important positions in government will be VACANT mid 2016.

    And The National Transformation Council cannot simply take power (Transitional Government) w/out participation in election and get clear mandate.

    I was originally advocating for NOTA (none of the above) and I have yet to decide who to vote. Both Miriam & Duterte are not in my hit list, but it doesn’t mean po I’m a die hard fanatic or supporter of Duterte.

    He may not be our perfect candidate and yes his life is an open book – a self confessed bad guy (profanity, womanizer, killer, etc.), but Philippines still need a strong leader after a very poor performance/bad leadership in PNoy (pretends to be good/saint).

  2. How about Miriam? She is intelligent, clean, and very pro-environment, women’s rights, and transparency. Despite her failing health, she would be the best bet among the choices currently available. And Robredo would be a great VP. There are good choices out there, but they are not the popular ones.

  3. Perhaps if Binay and the rest didn’t line their own pockets with this country’s limited resources some of your’ immature wishes could be implemented. You could of course send your’ wish list to Santa Claus, you’d have a better chance of seeing them acted upon!!!!

  4. Many like you are foregoing their voting rights and I am one for the reason that I refuse to be part of a disgusting farce of electing a candidate on no other basis than being the least evil. I am currently reading a novel about electing a supreme court justice which is or was done in some states in the U.S. where the writer says about a candidate thus: “he was recruited. That makes it more shameful. They pick some greenhorn with a nice smile and no record and package him with their sleek marketing. That’s politics.” This could refer to Grace Poe. The writer continues “I’m terrified and I won’t sleep well until he is defeated.” Unfortunately I feel the same way about the rest of them but to want
    them all defeated who in heavens name should prevail. Maybe Meriam?

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    Why is Miriam’s pro-Marcos stance a negative? I find this knee-jerk, pavlovian reaction to Marcos amusing. I wonder, is a pro-Joma Sison stance a positive?

  6. Nabasa ko sa column ni Efren Danao noong isang araw na mali raw ang “bias against.” Ang tama raw ay “prejudice against.” Ang ka-pair na preposition ng bias ay for, as in “bias for.” (I’m no grammar nazi. Na-distract lang talaga ako sa pagbabasa nang makita ko ang “bias against”.)