• We must find our elusive unity


    IN a few days, almost 50 million of us will head for the voting booth to choose our next President, Vice-President, Congressmen, half of the Senate, and thousands of officials at the local level.

    The May 9 election will not be the end of the dramatic struggle to install new leadership for the country, but only the beginning.

    Based on the best available information—voter preference surveys, both public and privately-commissioned, the assessments of dozens of election observers, and the anecdotal evidence of people’s preferences expressed in the form of banners, posters, car stickers, t-shirts, and those ubiquitous “baller bands”—it seems a virtual certainty that the winner of the presidential race next Monday will only claim about 34 percent of the vote, perhaps even slightly less than that. And that is a serious problem.

    This election campaign has been one of the most contentious and divisive in our memory—and for a few of us here at The Manila Times, that covers quite a number of years. The tension is only going to be aggravated when the closest thing to a consensus that we will be able to manage with our odd election system (assuming the actual voting goes as planned, which is not even certain) is a winner who can claim victory only by virtue of gaining enough votes to represent a minority that is just a percentage point or two larger than the next candidate’s minority.

    If a majority of 60 or 70 percent of voters didn’t vote for the winner, it would be difficult for them to not feel cheated; even if candidates and their supporters conduct themselves with absolute probity and good manners, our system guarantees the practical disenfranchisement of many voters, because it takes away the sense that citizens of stronger democracies feel, that the system is working for the common good even when the results are not what one might have wanted. Little wonder, then, that a gracious concession of defeat from a losing candidate is an extremely rare thing here; very few of those defeats are unequivocal.

    It will be up to the winning candidate to reach out to that majority who favored someone else. The winner must reflect on what attributes of his or her own opponents appealed to voters, and be willing to adopt good ideas. The winner must be prepared to justify his or her policies, and be willing to entertain disagreement, because that is how policies evolve to be relevant to the largest number of people.

    It will be up to the winning candidate to find someone trustworthy to keep near at hand, if only to tell the new leader “No,” when it needs to be said.

    For the rest of us, we need not completely let go of our right to disagree if the President is not the one we would have chosen, but we cannot express that in a way that diminishes our community and our country. Respect the law, and respect each other. We need not wait to be directed by a President or any other politician to be good neighbors; after May 9, good neighbors are exactly what this country, rubbed raw by too much partisanship and campaign rancor, will need to heal itself.


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    1. I wonder how can you based your judgment from survey firms like SWS and Pulse Asia. Otherwise, let’s not vote anymore and let SWS and Pulse Asia do the survey work and whoever leads, wins. I beg to disagree with this forecast/analysis. Miriam Santiago will win this race sans election fraud by PNoy, comelec and the other candidates. Only Miriam will not cheat in this election.

    2. The elusive unity that can be found is between Binary and Duterte. Setting aside all the mudslinging I can see a better future for this country if this 2 candidates can find it in themselves to really look deep into their heart and mind what they can do together to gain the majority of the people to support their cause and defeat the current administration and other candidates.
      I remember Duterte saying that if he backs out he will endorse Binary. Now that he leads survey he may not , but with the growing fear in the air, people are skeptical of his character and plans that the country may not be ready for and can spell disablement of our government.
      There will always be fear of the Unknown! Power if mishandled can be very dangerous!
      I can see Duterte as a Crime Czar , with his tough talk and bravery. He again can prove himself a better man if he can spare the people of the fear of his Unknown plans by endorsing Binay to Lead, for he has Diplomatic skills and good governing experience. For the sake of this country we need some Patriotic Stand that will define their legacy to be truly a leader for all !

      • What you wrote is what a perfect world is . Unity and good governance. The problem is it is not going to happen. Our country is broken, people are selling their votes to the highest bidder. Morally, we are a corrupt nation if there is word like that. Poverty is the main cause of corruption. Politicians are using this to get our votes. All of them are corrupt too. That leaves us with nothing.