[OPINION] The revolution Filipinos must uphold
Many are fixated on the rhetoric that voting "is a right" or rather "is a responsibility." Well, it is. The Constitution of the Philippines defines it as such but pray, believe, that the election transcends those individualistic assertions. For in consideration of the common good, it must always be taken as a revolution – a struggle to forward progressive shifts in the paradigm by means of leader selection.
Perhaps election is the most potent among all revolutions in advancing the sovereign's interest and freedom. However, it is also the most perilous on the same contingent on whether we make the right choice – a rarity in the Philippines because the populace appears to have a shared aversion to that "right choice." We actually need not go far back in history to demonstrate this point, for if we examine the land's current political climate, it is quite evident that the revolution 3 years ago, like all other previously undertaken, has invariably failed. But what could have caused this failure? The answer is clear and simple: we have wrongly chosen.
The incoming midterm election presents itself as Filipinos' chance for redemption. And apparently, the best way to redeem ourselves is by electing the right administrators this time around. But how could we ascertain that who we choose are the right ones? Perhaps, for this we could heed the tripartite proposition of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, one of the greatest legal and moral minds the land has seen.
According to the Iron Lady there are at least 3 qualities a public official must possess. First is academic excellence. This criterion reflects a person's intellectual aptitude, and as we all know, intellect is essential in terms of decision-making and problem-solving – quintessential roles of a leader. Moreover, academic excellence is a standard for competence.
We can't elect those who are inept in comprehending the content and implications of the law and policies they push for institutionalization. In Santiago's words, "Dapat naman 'yung mga pinakamarunong sa klase, hindi yung mga pinakagago." (We should elect the brightest in the class, not the most stubborn.)
After academic excellence, another thing that we should look for according to Santiago is professional excellence. Politics in the Philippines is plagued with conflicts of interest. Relatives are given premium in terms of government services while others are often if not always neglected. Most government projects are implemented not for their perceived and actual societal benefit but often for familial leverage or return of favor exclusive for constituents who pledged blind loyalty. (READ: [OPINION] This election, let us learn from history)
Perhaps this is what Santiago was calling out when she said that a leader must "enjoy a reputation for good, honest work." Furthermore, it suggests that utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and familial ties should not compromise the role of a public office as a public trust for, after all, being a politician is a profession of public service where professionalism is demanded. She suggests that awards and recognition given by nongovernmental organizations give us an approximation of this criterion among others. (READ: [OPINYON] Dear Undecided Voter)
Lastly, Santiago emphasized moral excellence. Sincere, prompt, and quality delivery of what is expected of one as a public servant with transparency and honesty is conceivably what morality here refers to. Explicitly speaking, a public service devoid of corruption in all forms. We should dismiss assertions like "honesty is not an issue" that circulates at present as erroneous.
To say that "honesty" is not demanded by the law so it should not be considered as qualification of a candidate for election is an obvious and desperate attempt to rationalize corruption. Honesty is first and foremost the requisite of integrity. If we elect leaders without these, it would be like passively offering ourselves so the corrupt may exploit us with ease. (READ: 25% of Filipinos want candidates who 'will not be corrupt' – SWS)
The campaign expenses contrasted to that of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of the candidates could help us in determining morality in this context. If a great discrepancy exists, in the case of reelectionists, we could look into betrayal of public trust. We should ask as Miriam did: "Saan nila kinukuha itong milyon at bilyon?" (Where are they getting their billions?) However, if we find this too complex to do, an alternative measure is to identify vote buyers. Not only is it a violation of legal actuations, but it is also downright immoral to exploit the people's penchant for immediate gratification out of desperate financial need that the corrupt themselves perpetuate. (READ: Sara insists honesty required of public officials but not of senatorial bets)
The prevailing political scenario in the Philippines is reflected by this quote from Walter Benjamin: "Every rise of fascism bear witness to a failed revolution."
Three years ago, our revolution culminated in futility and now a fascist is on the loose. Come May 2019, another revolution will make itself known, perhaps for the last time. And, may we emerge victorious on this struggle by electing them who possess academic, professional, and moral excellence. – Rappler.com
Jhio Jan Navarro is a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student at the University of the Philippines Visayas.