CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/10 May) — Allow me to take this opportunity to project an urgent message to fellow Mindanaons concerning the forthcoming elections.
With the elections only a few days away, let us call on all Filipinos to be wary, vigilant, and protective of the integrity of the event. It is the least we can do for our democracy. We need to remind everyone that to repeat the foolishness of past elections is to darken our future, to damage our culture and civilization, and to incur the wrath of our society.
No longer should we tolerate practices that drive citizens to commit acts that make a mockery of our ideals as a nation. Election abuses, committing them with impunity, must now be a thing of the past. It is time to say: ENOUGH NA!! TAMA NA! NO MORE ABUSES, NO MORE VIOLATIONS!
Honest, open and free elections are the linchpin of democracy. Let us insist that these elections be kept sacrosanct; for these are the indispensable rubric of democracy and the sacred rite of citizen sovereignty.
Let us especially reach out to first-time voters: the youth. Let us make sure that their vote—their first act of sovereignty—is secured against corruption. Let no one corrupt or manipulate them as in the past. And let us help them understand the centrality of their vote. For on it hinges the legitimacy of our government and the honor of our nation.
To all others: please be reminded that a corrupt vote produces illegitimate winners and fake officials that betray the public trust. They will then form a government, local or national, with illegitimate authority. Such a government at any level of our political system will poison the democratic space. Even one illegitimate authority is not acceptable. Good governance cannot be founded on illegitimacy, fakery or corruption.
Let us not tolerate corrupt elections. Too long have illegitimate officials gotten away with illicit authority. They corrupt the electoral system, pollute the political environment, and bastardize governance. Now, once and for all, let us elevate governance to a higher level and build it on a pedestal of honesty and integrity—a platform so strong it can withstand any challenge to a republic of honorable citizens.
To make our republic truly strong, let us start with a solemn declaration that: (1) We will uphold the sanctity of the ballot; (2) We shall resist any attempt to corrupt it; and (3) We will challenge anyone who manipulates or subverts it. The right of suffrage must no longer be violated. Let anyone who dares to commit a violation be treated as an enemy of democracy, a destroyer of civilized society, and a polluter of our culture. He or she must face our collective wrath and the full force of the law.
Accordingly, let us make a pledge or declaration affirming every citizen’s right to good, honest governance. And let us remind each other of our duty to ensure that this right is backed by honest votes during the elections. Let us remind one another everywhere possible—in campuses, churches, mosques, associations, markets, barangay clearings, private gatherings, any occasion where sovereign Filipino citizens congregate. For this purpose, let us intone the following:
FILIPINO VOTER’S DECLARATION
I am a Filipino citizen
in whom resides the sovereignty of our Republic
and from whom all government authority emanates.
My vote is the concrete expression of my sovereignty and authority.
THROUGH MY VOTE:
I delegate power and authority to the duly-elect,
that they may establish on my behalf a government
of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The legitimacy of said government
and the authority of its officials
derive their validity from my vote.
I expect the duly-elect to serve dutifully, honestly, and honorably.
I ask that they be true to their Oath of Office—responsive and accountable to
me and to my fellow citizens always.
If they misuse or abuse the power we delegate to them,
We have the right to take it back.
If they defy the popular will or neglect their mandate,
we have the right to hold them accountable and recall them.
So help me, God/Allah/Magbabaya.
[This Declaration should be kept as a testimonial to an affirmative act signifying the awakening of responsible citizenship in a sovereign of our democracy.]
Manny is, among others, a former diplomat, UN executive, and director at the Development Academy of the Philippines. He is based in Cagayan de Oro City and can be reached by email: email@example.com