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PIA Press Release
2007/04/12

Commentary: Right to write on ballots

By Bong Pedalino

Tacloban City (12 April) -- Two months into the senatorial campaign and two weeks in the local hustings, the electorate has been bombarded with survey after survey of leading and winning candidates particularly at the national level.

By now it has become apparent that an emerging trend supposedly reflecting voters’ preferences has been established, with emphasis on who’s leading and who’s trailing, in what political party, and what goes on anything in between.

It must be stressed, though, that an individual voter can neither be dictated nor swayed by results of surveys. He or she has all the right in the world to write any candidate’s name in the official ballot come voting time at designated precincts.

On that precise moment, the prime consideration should be a candidate’s avowed agenda that can help propel this nation forward, not backward, and definitely not whether or not he or she is lagging behind in the latest SWS or Pulse Asia polling.

Surveys, like raw statistics, function in much the same way as underwears. They reveal the bare essentials but leave the substantive part covered.

***

One astounding revelation now being noticed is that the average Filipino voter is beginning to acquire a fair sense of political maturity.

The general observation was that voters are now scrutinizing a candidate’s capability to be in the august halls of the Senate, irrespective of whether he/she is from the administration or opposition ticket, or an independent bet.

This is an encouraging development, and mass media should grab this opportunity by educating the voters on the candidates’ motives to be in office, providing background information, track record, and other necessary inputs to help mold an informed choice.

***

We can only hope that elections at the local level would follow a similar upcoming maturity of voters and candidates alike. It cannot be denied -- and this must be painfully accepted so proper reform can be instituted -- that majority of candidates for various local posts are much too willing to give money even to reluctant and principled voters.

The other extreme is no less disgusting: indifferent voters do not look on platforms, programs, and stand on legitimate issues but decide mainly on who gives the “election fund”, or who pays highest, collecting cash from both sides.

Such people have deliberately forfeited their freedom to write on ballots -- because they sell their right of suffrage.

***

LOCAL FRONT: A one-day orientation on a new law covering minor offenders was held at the Ampil Pensionne, Maasin City , Wednesday, April 11 and as expected it ended with much speculation hanging. The worry is that RA 9344, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, was more lenient with young violators of the law than on the part of the victims. But being a new law, the implementers have no choice but to follow its provisions when applied in specific cases. Besides, the new legislation offers a promise to provide a comprehensive system of justice for law-breaking children. Let us just cross our fingers that such promise can be delivered; otherwise the law must be amended to allow realistic adjustments in its implementation in the field.

ODDLY YOURS: Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, but in one of its places, in Antakya, formerly known as Antioch , can be found the first Christian Church. Even as a minority religion, Turkey has diverse Christian community -- Orthodox, Syriac, Jacobites, Gregorian Armenian, Catholics -- but such diversity accounts only to no more than 200,000 persons in a national population of 70 million (as of 2006). Antakya itself, where the first Christian Church known as Cave Church of St. Peter is located, has only 1,300 Christian residents out of a 200,000 population. Since 1930, however, the Cave Church of St. Peter has been transformed into a Museum, although Capuchin Monks occasionally celebrate Mass there for visiting pilgrims on religious feasts. (PIA Southern Leyte) [top]

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