In the past three elections, I never shared my list of Senate candidates because I wanted to stay neutral. Instead, I came out with a “consider list” based on a selection criteria. Staying neutral is not making a stand in fighting for what is right for our country. When I shared my candidates’ list a week ago on Twitter, the response was positive. Friends cared to know why I am choosing this candidate. Others questioned why not a straight #OtsoDiretso, the opposition alliance slate?
After much reflection, I am changing my initial list to #OtsoDiretso plus two: former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, and labor leader Leody de Guzman. Why? My main criteria is picking the real opposition because it is the first step towards an independent Senate which is what we urgently need. No, I was never “dilawan” — meaning, a person who supports the Liberal Party and the Otso Diretso. I have gotten over the label of being called “dilawan” just because I am critical of this administration. I’m just critical whoever is in power. I point out when something is right or wrong.
What good is a Senate if they will say “Yes, Mr. President”? No one branch can become so powerful as to control the system. The separation of powers is important because it provides a vital system of checks and balances. Balance is important ensure that no individual or group of people in government is “all powerful.” Power is shared and not concentrated in one branch. The current legislative and even judicial branch is not balanced anymore. We have no control over the judicial branch since the President appoints the Justices. The voters are in control in voting for the Legislative branch.
With less than a month before the May 13, 2019 elections, not all of us have determined our respective candidates for the local and national posts yet. Based on the latest Pulse Asia March 2019 Ulat ng Bayan national survey, less than half of Filipino registered voters (42 percent) have a complete Senate slate as of end of March 2019. It is only in Mindanao where most registered voters already have a complete slate for the Senate elections. Only around 1 out of every 3 voters in the rest of Luzon and the Visayas has 12 preferred candidates for the Senate (35 percent and 32 percent, respectively). Surveys show a percentage of the population as still undecided on that matter.
The sheer number of Senate aspirants, party lists and local candidates to choose from can make an informed vote difficult for an average voter. Choosing your candidate now will matter because you could have the time to campaign for him or her.
More candidates from the opposition can still make it to the Top 12. Here is what we can do.
1. Choose your candidates and share this list. Convince your friends and loved ones that separation and balance of powers is crucial for a democratic government. If we share our views to our community, they can easily share these to their friends and family members. Maybe some of us have family members or friends who are noninternet users. Can you imagine if at least half of us pass on the knowledge to another non-internet user?
2. Share your candidates’ list, relevant articles or commentaries on your Facebook wall, Twitter. Tag your friends in the post, so it will widen reach and visibility. Set your posts to a public audience so friends tagged can share your post. The best time to post are during peak hours when people are online: between 11 p.m. – 3 p.m., and between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday is the peak day of the week. You can also share in private messaging groups.
3. Look beyond surveys. Surveys, admit it or not, just frame the mindsets of people, and would favor the leading candidate or “the lesser of the two evils.” Poll survey ratings don’t decide elections. They serve a purpose, it’s true, but only as guidelines. I do not believe in surveys because they only offer a snapshot of a certain group of people at a particular time, when the survey was taken. The real survey will still be on the Election Day on May 13, 2019.
If you care for our country and the future of our children, it’s time to take action. Let’s target the 42 percent Filipinos who do not have a complete Senate slate.
The #OtsoDiretso Senate bets are Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, ex-solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, ex-Interior chief Mar Roxas, and ex-Quezon congressman Erin Tañada.
First published at the Sunday Business & IT, April 21, 2019.