Voters or Candidates

An essay for English class


This past decade, the Philippines have been in a very messy state politically. There have been lousy candidates and the sad fact is that these lousy candidates actually win. To name two of them, Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Fernando Poe Jr. Estrada became president in 1998 but after only three years, he was kicked out of office, went into trial and eventually served time because he was convicted of plunder. He ran again in the recent 2010 presidential elections but lost to Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Fernando Poe Jr. ran for office in 2004 but lost to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a very controversial election. Arroyo would later on admit to cheating in the elections, making Poe the legitimate president of that election. Unfortunately for him, he was dead by the time Arroyo admitted and even her time as president was finished. Estrada and Poe are both actors and really are not meant for the job. Erap had little political background but he still took down the Philippines. Poe had no political background whatsoever and this will send the message that only God knows what would have happened had he won the 2004 elections.

Filipinos cannot blame anyone else for the problems they are encountering today. They choose their leader therefore they should learn to put up with whatever mistakes their leader makes. However, there are those Filipinos who are sensible enough to vote the right candidates. COMELEC has to specify further either one of two things: the right to run for president or the right to vote. According to the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines:

Article V


Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election.No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.

Section 2. The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.

The Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons. Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under existing laws and such rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to protect the secrecy of the ballot.

Taking a closer look at the two examples sighted earlier as lousy candidates, Erap won because he was popular among the masses. FPJ would have had the same reason, had GMA not cheated. However, it will not be correct to take away the rights of the Filipino voters just like that. Some suggest a “voter’s test” wherein the COMELEC will issue an exam before allowing each Filipino to vote. It does sound like a good idea but in the end, plenty of Filipinos will not be able to vote and that will be just unfair. The voter’s test would have a lot of gray areas also such as the number one question that would have to be answered: what makes a person qualified to vote? There is really no one who has absolute authority over this and who can determine who should be allowed to vote and who should not. With that, the people should be allowed to vote. As long as they fit the description given by the law on suffrage, then they should be allowed to vote because this is their right.

An alternative solution, however, is for the COMELEC to screen the candidates they allow to run very well because without a lousy candidate it would be practically impossible for the voters to make the wrong choice in candidate. Taking Erap and FPJ again for example, Erap was a convicted criminal yet he was allowed to run again in the 2010 elections. When he won in 1998, his running in that election could not really have been questioned because he was a legitimate candidate back then. But if looked at closely, are he and FPJ really legitimate candidates? They are actors, what would they know about running a country? For all people know they probably cannot even shoot a gun in real life. But that is beside the point; the point here really is to have legitimate, qualified, and experienced candidates who can deliver if ever they win in the elections. This last election, it was very fortunate for the Filipinos that Noynoy ran for president. It is arguable but not unlikely and not impossible that Noynoy was, to put it in the words of other people, “riding the momentum of his mother’s death”. However, had he opted not to run, Erap would have won again. True, it was a sentimental vote by the Filipinos for Noynoy but thanks to those votes, we avoided having a criminal as president. Going back to the argument, in the 2010 elections, if both Noynoy and Erap did not run, there would have been practically just three choices, namely: Manuel “Manny” Villar, Richard “Dick” Gordon, and Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. All of whom were senators and would surely have delivered if elected president. But if it were just Erap who ran and Noynoy did not, Erap would definitely have won.

There really is no taking away the rights of Filipinos to vote, that right is for no one to take. They can choose not to exercise that right but it would be a waste and above all else, irresponsible. The bottom line here is in order for people not to make mistakes; people should stay away from those possible mistakes. If the COMELEC does screen the candidates very well, then the Philippines would be a much better country because all the choices it would have to lead them will be good.



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