OKAY, enough with playing around. The polls next Monday may be “just” midterm elections, but they do deserve our serious attention (and a great amount of our patience). After all, the results could help cut short the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who could face yet another round of impeachment proceedings if her opponents muster enough numbers in Congress. If the results go the other way, the administration could either delude itself into thinking it has been performing well or thank the people for those votes of confidence by truly performing well.
At the same time, the polls’ outcome will determine the extent of the public’s sympathy for the Left, which the administration has been trying to push out of electoral politics altogether. It could well be that the Left does have a strong constituency it can count on to help it withstand such efforts, but votes from the general public are also important to gauge just how much of its message is being accepted and considered as having resonance and relevance.
Of course, with the integrity of the 2004 elections still up in the air, many voters will be going to the poll centers quite cynical about the whole process. Some voters may even choose to sit out this round. In an ideal world, officials and the candidates would seize this chance to restore people’s faith in elections and keep everything above board. In our less-than-ideal world, the citizens themselves must be vigilant in their monitoring of the polls to ensure that the ballots they painstakingly filled up will be counted, and in the right way.
And so for the rest of May, i Report will be concentrating on the elections. We begin this week with a look at the Commission on Elections and the pollwatchers. Next we tackle voting in the so-called Technological Age. We also have a surprise or two in store.
In the meantime, you still have a few more days to go through the list of candidates and check out their credentials, reputations, and track records. Make the effort and choose our next legislators and local officials wisely. It’s about time we Filipinos stop voting with our feet.