Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Major Problem: Unopposed Candidates

As the 2016 election draws near, the question of who to vote for is slowly creeping into the minds of our people. In my family, my mother seems dead set on foregoing her right to vote for anybody in the presidential and vice-presidential race. My brother and sister-in-law seem to have set their sights on Robredo as their vice president. I, on the other hand, still don't know who I will vote for but am completely aware on who not to support. The influx of candidates looking to be elected for the top posts has definitely made choosing a difficult endeavor. But if choosing through a multitude of names seems problematic, can we imagine having no choice when it comes to our leaders? Well, a few of our countrymen have this problem and there seems to be no solution in sight.

By the way, the problem with the high number of candidates with very similar platforms has been discussed in many shows and may become a subject of a future post here in my blog.

As for now, let's focus on how, in some places, we citizens are given no choice. and produced an awesome picture of how many unopposed candidates are running for major provincial posts here.

ABS-CBN News also produced a report on the matter.  

Clearly, the problem is a recurring theme in our elections.With the high number of political families controlling their own respective little kingdoms, it would be a surprise if all our LGU's had all its positions contested by at least two individuals. But what makes a lack of opposition in elections such a problem?

If you've managed to stumble upon a news segment discussing the issue, an analyst would always say that the strength of the democracy lies in the choices the citizens are given. It seems like an ambiguous statement with no real meaning sometimes. But a person who studied these kinds of stuff for the better part of their adult lives can't possibly be blurting out generic gibberish on national TV, right?

To me, democracy is a system of controlled compromise whose end game is to pass policies that would lead to the improvement of its constituent's lives. I've said before that voting should be based on ideals. Since no candidate truly captures our personal preference, we compromise and should vote for the persons who have the platforms that resemble our ideals the closest.

In the absence of electoral opposition, we as citizens concede our voices when it comes to our leader and we compromise uncontrollably to whatever agenda the elected official has. Instead of the leader adjusting to the ideals and needs of the people, the people adjust their needs and ideals to that of the leader. Some people call it a dictatorship or even despotism. I wouldn't go that far since the officials still have to abide by a constitution approved by the people. But nonetheless, it still leaves the people, the ones for which the government was designed, somewhat voiceless.

But aren't the people voiceless regardless of the number of candidates running? Well, let's look at Duterte who, along with a few other people, is running for the presidency. He once expressed his support for same-sex marriage in 2015 in Vice Ganda's show. Here's a video of him addressing the matter:

He expressed these sentiments back in 2015. I was genuinely surprised when he said same-sex marriage was good. I hate the fact that our government is tied down to principles espoused by the Christian church. It was a refreshing and candid answer. It was clear that he supported it then.

But things change. In late January, the Davao mayor changed his tone. Nowadays, he supports gays but won't push for same sex marriage. This is not a surprise since he has officially confirmed his desire to be president since the release of the video. Aside from that, there is also the statistical fact that 70% of Filipinos oppose same-sex marriage. I guess same-sex marriage is not good enough for us to revisit our constitution.

Duterte needed to change his tone and his platform to be able to win this election. He had to compromise to the electorate's ideals. He doesn't have the luxury that Imee Marcos has in Ilocos who only needs to vote for herself to win the post. Instead for calling for the changing of the constitution to conform with the needs of our LGBT brethren, he chose to compromise with the people's ideals and stick to the status quo.

It sucks to be part of the 30% in this issue. But at least, I can rest assured that the country is being shaped by its citizenry and not some person who is given authority just because nobody else can compete. I mean, I can still assess the field and vote for the presidential aspirant who most likely will take same-sex marriage seriously. Unlike the people of Ilocos Norte who have no choice but to accept Imee Marcos and whatever projects she has in store.

Diversity is important in a democracy. Though things get watered down sometimes, the choices the people are given are the ones that define our nation's present and the ones that will shape our future.

Maybe it's time to get an anti-dynasty law. Maybe it's time to make running for positions cheaper. Maybe gerrymandering is an issue we need to address. I'm not really sure about the solution to the problem of lack of opposition in some areas. But I'm definitely sure it's time we start addressing it.

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