I WAS caught aback by the question my eldest son asked me yesterday: Where should I register for the next elections? I forgot that he is 18 years old and is already eligible to vote. I am a registered voter in Barangay Sambag 2 in Cebu City while my wife is a registered voter in Barangay Inayawan, also in Cebu City. But we currently are in the suburb. We still have to decide on an appropriate answer to my son’s question.
I want my son to appreciate the value of his vote even if his father has a diminished appreciation of it. That diminution began when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos started rigging elections and continued when elected government officials after him continued to use their positions for selfish gains. I am exercising my right to vote again but not for patriotic but rather for personal reasons.
And I am against any president who wants to tamper with this very important democratic practice. Every president after Marcos, except perhaps for the two Aquinos (Cory and Noynoy) and to a certain extent Fidel V. Ramos, got enamored with term extensions and looked for ways to forego with elections. Their attempt to tamper with the electoral process failed, of course, because of people’s opposition.
President Duterte, or at least some of his people, now want to forego with the 2022 elections using the Covid 19 pandemic as reason. No less than the son of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a corrupt former Malacanang tenant, is spearheading this move in Congress. Will the move succeed this time around?
The pandemic is actually a poor reason to postpone the next elections. For one, the tide of the pandemic is weakening and may no longer be a problem soon with the discovery of vaccines to battle the coronavirus. (Are the “no elections” proponents praying that no vaccine or Covid 19 cure will ever be discovered and more people will die of Covid 19 until 2022?
I like the tweets of former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal on the matter. Indeed, why can’t we be creative in our practice of our right to vote granted that the coronavirus threat will still be around in 2022? Can’t protocols like the wearing of face masks and physical distancing not be applicable in the voting process? What about online voting?
By the way, those who want President Duterte to hold on to power beyond 2022 should consider his age and the fact that his Vice President, Leni Robredo, is not his partymate. Even now, there are visible signs of the President slowing down because of the illnesses he is suffering. That is precisely why we need to regularly hold elections: because leaders get old.
Holding on to power is futile, that is one of the lessons the Marcoses learned rather late. People power ended Ferdinand’s rule and had it not, lupus would have. Indeed, in the few years that Marcos was exiled in the US, the said illness killed him. Had not absolute power corrupted him, history would have had a different verdict on Marcos’s rule.