Desire for change | Lifestyle of the researcher

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An ABS-CBN News Channel program on October 5th. 30 showed long lines of new entrants at many Election Commission (Comelec) registration centers in cities across the country. Despite the 4 million new voters reported by Comelec, many new voters who failed to register asked for a further extension of the registration period. And that’s not because they were last-minute candidates.

After being interviewed, one said it was the fourth time he had come back to register, waiting in line for hours but not doing the cutout number every time. Apparently this wasn’t uncommon, as others said they waited in line several times for up to eight hours, but many still missed the cut.

When asked why she was so persistent in trying to register, a lady replied that it was time for a change and that she wanted a better future for her children. This is a common theme among voters who have the opportunity to speak out as we approach our national elections in May next year.

Another dramatic indication of this desire for change is the surprisingly early and sustained involvement of citizens, reflected in the sudden flurry of political discourse soon after the last day’s filing of candidacy certificates from presidential candidates. Since then, social media has been inundated with passionate text messages, analytical commentary, inspirational songs, political symbols, and even recruiting and volunteering for political advocacy groups.

The question is, which of the six “serious” presidential aspirants (at least five, if one of them is just a temporary replacement or replacement for a potential replacement) will truly provide the change the Filipino people are eagerly hoping and praying for?

Main elements

To begin with, what are the main elements of the current situation that our compatriots find themselves bogged down in wanting to change? Here are the ongoing problems:

• Their significantly degraded economic condition and current struggle to make a living (worsened by the government’s pathetic overall response to the COVID pandemic);

• The deadly war on drugs, which has already caused thousands of Filipino deaths in extrajudicial executions (EJK), according to some estimates more than half the death toll from the pandemic;

• The continuing disrespect and contempt for the constitution and existing laws in pursuit of political or personal agendas, and the consequent attack on citizens’ rights;

• The controversial anti-terrorism law, which, as expected, is proving problematic due to indiscriminate red-tagging and abuse of suspects;

• The submissive attitude towards China and the lack of a firm response to its illegal forays into Philippine territory; Other

• Taking the limelight lately, uncontrolled corruption in many areas and levels of government (exacerbated by the incumbent’s obstructive stance towards official efforts to uncover specific large-scale corruption cases).

Game change

So, what kind of leader should we look for who can really be the tipping point? Some time ago I wrote a piece about an organization called the People’s Choice Movement, a group of Christian organizations (Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical) whose purpose is to guide voters in choosing political leaders based on Christian principles and values. I won’t go into the details of their very rigorous rating and rating system, but the three main categories on which they base specific criteria have proved very useful: character, competence and commitment.

Here I’ll focus primarily on character and apply it by selecting specific traits that will allow a potential leader to make the changes Filipinos desire.

First of all it is integrity. Integrity is a broader concept than honesty. It literally means integrity, where a person’s actions conform to his or her principles and beliefs. As a civil servant, he should not tolerate corruption and must have a clean criminal record for honesty, especially in public service. He / she must not engage in any form of cheating (for example, buying votes and other illegal perks) to be elected. Above all, he must tell the truth without bullying or evasion.

Character is also reflected in actions consistent with the declared membership of a candidate for democratic government. He / she should: respect and strengthen our democratic institutions; follow the Constitution and the laws in force; defend the basic human rights of citizens (for example, must not forgive and must speak out against the EJK, must not justify authoritarian and dictatorial practices, past or present); hold past and present public officials who have committed crimes accountable under the law; be resolute in defending the territorial rights of our country against illegal incursions from any country.

political convenience

The problem is that most of the current presidential candidates have avoided directly addressing some or all of the major issues mentioned above. Perhaps out of political expediency or pure distrust of the current administration, or simply because they are its obvious allies, they do not take a position on these political and social evils that our people want to get rid of. Therefore, they give the impression that their mandate will simply be a variation of the current regime, if not its absolute continuation. Indeed, they are not addressing people’s desire for real change, focusing only on the usual “benefits” they will bring to the table.

In any democracy, especially when citizens are dissatisfied with the national situation, there must be a real opposition that will articulate its different approach to bring about the changes that people need and want. This requires clearly identifying the evils that people are unhappy with, even if it displeases the administration in charge.

So where do the current aspirants for the highest position in our country fit into the specific issues mentioned? We hope to hear from them, but they are not likely to do so for the most part, judging from their experience as former or current allies of power in power.

To put it bluntly, if we Filipinos want real change, the highest leader we seek today should be the antithesis of what we currently have. Not a clone. Not a variant. Not even a silent enabler. This leaves us with only the last (wo) man standing. – CONTRIBUTION INQ

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