As we prepare to celebrate Easter Sunday today, we feel the need for renewal, for leaving behind the sins of the past in favour of living in faith for the promises of our Divine Savior’s resurrection. This need for renewal comes at a time when candidates are preparing for elections on May 13th. Many of them are running for senators, congressmen/women, governors, vice governors, mayors, vice mayors, councillors down to the municipal levels.
As we all know, most people traditionally use “name recall” to vote for certain candidates. Thus, the more people can sing along with the candidates’ “political jingles,” the better for the candidates. Which is why we have numerous TV commercials singing the praises of certain candidates. And if this doesn’t sway voters, money would definitely win the day. Candidates are known to give away hundreds or thousands of pesos per voter to ensure a landslide victory or even just a sure victory over their rivals. Sadly, a huge number of voters fall into this trap.
But if we want to ensure that we vote for the right candidates who have our welfare at heart and who would give a bright future to our country, we must follow some basic criteria and the dictates of our conscience: How has the incumbent performed as a public official? Has he/she done any major legislation that has improved the lives of people? Or has he/she been content to do a few visible projects such as basketball courts and waiting sheds?
The right candidates must not merely say they are not corrupt or would never accept bribes. They would have to prove it by their actions while they are in office. After all, eventually, their secret connivance with others to enrich themselves through bribery and dishonest ways will be known. No secret is safe for long.
Corruption is like a cancer that permeates through the innermost sanctum of government, infecting everyone from the highest official down to the lowest one. Unless everyone would work to eradicate it or at least minimize it, the country’s development would be stunted. We would never be able to realize our economic growth and development to the fullest. Funds meant for infrastructure, job creation, agriculture, technical trainings and to spur industrial growth would instead line the pockets of our politicians and make them so wealthy while their city/province continue to be mired in poverty.
For so long, our country has been short-changed by corrupt leaders from the local to the national level, making us fall behind our ASEAN neighbours in terms of development. It is no wonder that we are not economically and militarily strong. In the midst of the tension that we face in the West Philippine Sea, our ability to assert ourselves and stand our ground is quite impaired. So, to our politicians who are now running for elective positions, please forget about enriching yourselves while in office and treating elections as if it is a business. Think of the country. Borrowing the lines of a famous American president, think of what you can do for the country. Let’s not bleed the country of its wealth through corruption. Instead, let us help lift our country that she may be strong and free.
That is one side of the coin. The other side is to craft a sharper and clearer vision of where the town/city, province or country is headed. We need to do an honest-togoodness assessment such as: where are we going as a town, city, province, country? How do we plan to get there and when will that be? (vision, mission, goals and strategies). What are our innate strengths and what opportunities do we have? On the other hand, what threats and weaknesses must we overcome? The ideal candidate must be able to include these in his or her platform of governance for the voters to make the right decision.
The double-sided duty – eradicate corruption and carve out a sound platform for development – must be done if we are to progress. We can no longer afford to wait and do nothing. Our Asian neighbours have overtaken us. Now is the time to plan, act and to move forward.