Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

…written in 2007

If you believe in democracy, then vote on May 14. If you want deserving candidates to win, then encourage others to vote as well. If you want to remove incompetent leaders, then volunteer to guard the counting of votes. This is our duty as responsible citizens. Our vigilance is the price of freedom we are enjoying today.

Forty-five million voters are expected to flock the polling centers next Monday. First-time voters will comprise a significant block. It is hoped they will make informed choices. We trust the capability of the young to be more discerning in voting the next leaders of the country.

Some of our young voters have expressed disappointment over the electoral process. We cannot blame them. Election-related violence and visible signs of impending poll fraud have forced many of our youth to turn their backs on the elections. But we must assure them that their votes will make a big difference this year. Refusing to participate in the elections will allow traditional politicians to dominate and manipulate election results. Our youth must be reminded that elections may not bring fundamental reforms in our society but a change in leadership is a step forward in our crusade to uplift the conditions in our country.

Cheating can be abetted if only few people will dare to pinpoint how politicians are exploiting the weaknesses of our electoral system. We need more warriors who will stand up, speak and fight against the enemies of freedom and democracy.

We can start by voting wisely. It may mean nothing to others, but through voting alone, we can actually hinder poll fraud incidents. We can deny flying and ghost voters the chance to use our names during Election Day. By filling up our ballots (please don’t leave any blank spaces), we can be assured that no name of candidates we abhor will be added in our ballots. If the forty-five million registered voters will all vote on May 14, we can discourage poll fraud operators to pad the votes for certain candidates. We can make it difficult for dagdag-bawas architects to implement their evil plans.

During the next few days, we can still engage candidates to specify their program of action for the next three to six years. Now is the right time to review news articles, election podcasts, interviews and candidate profiles in order to be certain whether we will be voting for the right leaders the country needs at the moment.

Our starving people may find it hard to refuse cash gifts and other forms of bribery offered by desperate candidates. We should stop blaming the ‘beggar mentality’ of voters; instead we should start doing something to expose and punish politicians and candidates who are engaging in bribery. There are worse examples of vote-buying which are usually overlooked. Shouldn’t we also condemn the following: media payola, payment in exchange for religious endorsement, collusion with big business in exchange for protection, and accepting dirty money from crime and drug syndicates?

Three months of election campaigning have revealed the flaws of our election process. We should now embark on meaningful, sincere and quick election reforms in preparation for the 2010 elections. The Comelec, with the help of peoples’ organizations, can easily identify the roadmap of change we need to implement. Otherwise, we will continue to produce election results with little credibility which further undermines the elite-dominated system we call democracy.

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