As soon as I was old enough to do so, I voted. It was a right I was eager and excited to exercise. It’s part of being in and believing in a Democracy. For many years every time I heard anyone saying they wouldn’t vote, I always tried to change their mind.
“Every vote counts. If you don’t vote, you allow the bad candidates to get more votes, and we end up with bad leaders.”
“If you don’t vote, you don’t have any right to complain.”
“Election day is the day you exercise your power to change your government.”
“What do you want, anarchy?”
I said it all.
In many ways I still believe in this process. But this year I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I consider myself a law abiding citizen. I’m always on the side of doing what is right. And I’m always deeply frustrated when rules are violated and laws broken, and nothing has been done about it. I’m even more frustrated when it is people in power who violate these same rules and laws.
The Philippine Commission on Elections has recently released rules on how the election this year is to be conducted. You can read it here. Much of that I already knew beforehand.
In that list of rules, you will see what is prohibited in terms of the campaign conduct of people aspiring for office. Here in San Pablo City, most if not all the candidates have violated these rules. You can see their tarpaulins on places they are specifically prohibited from displaying: electric posts, trees, waiting sheds, pedestrian overpasses, etc. Worse, they have begun campaigning long before the designated campaign period. For local positions, they cannot campaign until March 30 of this year. But many have already started their campaign last year.
They try to couch their campaign with supposedly sincere greetings for “Merry Christmas!”, “Congratulations to New Graduates”, “Happy Fiesta”, etc., but if you are not stupid, you will see exactly what they’re doing.
All notable local candidates, and I mean ALL OF THEM are guilty of this. If all of them are guilty, who do I have left to vote? NOBODY!
On a National Level, the violations are even worse. You can see dramatizations of the lives of these candidates on TV. And for many months previously, you can see ads of their “foundations” doing good work. They don’t come out and specifically say “vote for me!”, but the message is clear. If you’re not stupid.
I cannot, in good conscience, vote for any of them. If now, even before they are in position, they are already guilty of violating the rules, what more if they’re already in place? I cannot be responsible for putting any of these lawbreakers into office.
If this set of rules is to be followed to the letter, many of these candidates should have been disqualified, fined or even imprisoned. I have reported these instances to the Comelec twice before, as early as August last year. And guess what. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE.
What is the use of releasing those rules and regulations to the public except to frustrate law abiding citizens like me who already know and can see with our very own eyes these violations being committed with impunity. WITH IMPUNITY. And nothing, NOTHING is being done.
I could still be convinced to vote. Name me candidates who have never violated those rules, and I will consider voting for them.