Filipinos have been fighting for their right to vote. The right to write the names (or fill in the circles) of persons on a ballot who will lead (or mislead) them. The right to insult another person supporting the opposing candidate. And the right to have the index finger dipped in indelible ink.
In this nation where people have fought to exercise their right to vote in previous elections, there is at least one person who has been exercising his right otherwise.
And that’s ME.
When we were in elementary and high school, we have been taught about the importance of voting. It was taught that voting is not only a right but also a duty as a Filipino to cast a vote and be heard. (Excuse me, heard by whom?)
I was invited several times during high school and college by student “political parties” to run for the school council or the student government. I couldn’t remember having won any of those candidacies. But those election losses didn’t matter to me. What was more important for me back then was to at least do good in school, continue to receive my scholarship grant, and finish my studies . Besides, it was just an “exercise” to exercise the right to run for elections and the right to vote in the real world outside school.
And then came in the invitation from our hometown councilors and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders to run for a position in that Youth Council under their political party. I accepted the invitation and joined the party’s campaign activities and the party’s uhhmmm…parties.
Once again, I lost. And again, I didn’t care. My main focus was my college studies. I had to take care of my grades to maintain my scholarship grant. But as a losing candidate, I remember having been appointed either as auditor or the treasurer role although I don’t remember performing such duties or receiving any compensation for being one.
But what puzzled me back then was my fellow candidates’ eagerness to win the SK elections. And even puzzling was the winning SK Chairman candidate’s main project: A waiting shed in front of their house.”
What are the other things that prevented me from voting or even registering as a voter? Here are my personal observations and actual accounts of events.
1) Government-issued vehicles being used for personal lakad by barangay, municipal, or city hall officials. Panghatid at sundo ng anak sa eskuwela. Panghatid at sundo ng mistress sa eskuwela o trabaho. Panghatid at sundo ng family and friends to and from the moviehouse or outings and for other personal purposes. Gasoline, repairs, oil change, and other expenses charged to the government.
2) Municipal and city hall officials’ hiring family members, relatives, and friends as employees. They don’t even go to work but they continue to receive paychecks on a monthly basis.
3) Funds for specific projects such as streetlighting or sidewalks used for town fiesta parties and for talents fees and artistas and singers.
4) Barangay or municipal officials and employees having their “teambuilding” activities in Hongkong, Palawan, or Boracay.
5) Paying for sedulas or the community tax certificate. I wonder where the money collected from these goes.
6) Paying P5 to P10 for every brown envelope at the NBI or the police station whenever people request for clearances.
7) Jueteng, loteng, sakla, etc. being sponsored by elected officials.
8) Other things that I know you know as well.
While I still believe that the current structure of the government will improve and change for a better governance, personally, I have yet to see the real changes that need to be made by our intelligent politicians and statesmen. All these PDAF and pork barrel issues have to be addressed (remove!) so that money will go straight to the people who voted (and not voted) them: The Taxpayers.
Unless I see real, drastic changes and I see all people enjoying their rights to medical needs, rights to have better infrastructure, rights of parents to send their kids to school, rights to have access to adequate legal assistance and to the courts of justice, rights to access public official records, etc. then voting will still be a far-fetched idea for me.
Maybe the time will come when officials and persons in authority (police, soldiers, government nurses and doctors) start to call ordinary people as ma’ams and sirs instead of the other way around. This could be a sign that the ordinary citizens are the real “bosses” of this nation. Only then will I vote.
So before you criticize me for not exercising my right to vote, and that I have no right to complain since I am not a registered voter, read this:
I AM A RESPONSIBLE TAXPAYER.
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P.S. 2. I’m inviting you to attend our financial coaching/Q&A session with Jess Emerson Uy, a Filipino financial consultant based in Singapore who conducts financial literacy seminars at the Philippine Embassy there, on October 9, 2013, 7PM at Starbucks Paseo de Roxas in Makati City. This Q&A session dubbed as “Starting in Global Investing” will also be webcast LIVE over at the OFW UsapangPiso Webinar site. If you are based abroad and want to interact with Jess Uy live online, then register here. Those who are in Metro Manila may get in touch with Mr. Mon Lao at 09173262077 if you want to attend the coffeetable coaching sessions for FREE with Jess Uy at Starbucks Paseo de Roxas.