When asked what is democracy, we often say that it is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The question is, who are the people? Does it include me? You? What do you think? Where is the power? Democracy is characterized by the people’s rights and responsibilities. And the real “people” does not include everyone but only those who holds the real power — the electorate.
May 14 is that one day, that one moment when everyone are equal. It is the day when whether young or old, rich or poor, educated or not, weak or strong, you all get one vote, one voice and one chance to be heard and make a difference. That is the one day the really defines democracy.
In recent years, a lot of people have been skeptic about our electoral system. A cloud of doubt and mistrust have surrounded the Commission on Elections. What they fail to realize is that democracy only fails at that moment when the people fail to care. The resources of the Commission is limited and therefore not enough to protect the votes of millions and millions of Filipinos here and abroad. What most people failed to understand is that if we all just care enough to protect our votes, the real voice of the people will be heard.
Everyday, we see people joining rallies left and right. My question is this: are you guys registered voters? Do you perform your primary responsibility to the country? Are you part of “the people”? There are many roads of activism. This is mine. I refuse to accept the current system and I will do my best to help change it. I am only 17 and I do not yet have the privilege of choosing my leaders but I do my best to make sure that those who do have that privilege will choose wisely and responsibly.
In the past months, I’ve heard criticisms regarding the Voter Education Program even from within the COMELEC. Some says that it is not effective and that endorsement of candidates are better. This I say, the Filipinos are not dumb people who needs to be told what to do or who to vote. They need to be educated about their rights and responsibilities and not be kept in the dark with regards to the laws surrounding the electoral system. Only then will they be able to choose wisely and responsibly. I have not lost hope for the Philippine electorate. I won’t lead to fast results but we are not after that because most of them are temporary. We do not only hope for a good leader to be elected on May 14 but on the years to come. There are those of us who desire for a Philippine electorate who can think for themselves and choose for themselves responsibly and wisely. We don’t know when that time will come but it will. Maybe in 50, 60, 70 or even a hundred years but it will. Why? Because there are those of us who are willing to change this country one step and one person at a time.
An educated, responsible electorate will produce responsible leaders of the society. And they will fulfill their responsibilities to the country be it in office or during elections. They don’t buy or sell votes and they protect them. This may seem too ideal and too impossible but I believe that if we work together and work hard enough and long enough and if we believe strong enough, we can still change this country. We can as long as there are those people from the balut vendors to the taxi drivers to those who are in the COMELEC and those of us in the comforts of a university who have not lost hope for the country.
Let your voices be heard. Your right to suffrage is both a responsibility and a privilege. It is the true people power and your responsibility to your county, your country’s children, your children and yourself. Please do vote on May 14 and please choose wisely and responsibly. And please protect your vote, your voice because the next exhibition of the true people power will be on 2010 which is a long way from now. I am counting on your vote. And rest assured, I will help to protect it. I have not lost hope and never will because I was once told that “the only way for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
LET US ALL KEEP EVIL AT BAY. ON MAY 14, PLEASE GO OUT AND VOTE!!!
VOX POPULI! VOX DEI! MABUHAY ANG BAWAT BOTANTENG PILIPINO! MABUHAY ANG SAMBAYANANG PILIPINO!
Alyssa Bernice Cabanding
Interim Vice Chair for Publicity and Publications, KALINANGAN ng UP
Kabataang Lingkod Bayan ng UP (COMELEC Volunteer Corps)