The country will take to the polls anew on May 14, reprising the democratic exercise it went through two years ago that saw President Rodrigo Duterte winning in an unprecedented massive landslide victory. That particular chapter in the country’s political timeline can be interpreted in two opposite perspectives, good or bad, depending on which side of the political fence one sits.
The fact remains however that electoral politics in the country has yet to mature as a social institution that anchors as a pillar of democracy. Elections have been manipulated, as was in the case when Marcos’ sham victory over Cory Aquino in the 1986 snap elections triggered a national outrage and fueled a brewing social uprising that led to his downfall.
Even at post EDSA, after the country was supposed to have laid the foundation for a democratic system, elections have repeatedly been marred by allegations of cheating and manipulation. The sophistication by which it is done is aided by the evolution of technology, including of late the utilization of social media as a political tool to manipulate electoral outcomes.
The forthcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections takes a unique significance in light of the ongoing power struggle between the ruling administration and the emergent opposition. We should not expect the party of the administration as well as the party of the opposition to simply sit idly by and leave the local polls alone.
The barangay elections is the widest arena of electoral battleground for the main contenders in the national electoral politics. Control over the barangays mean control over the larger polls, be they municipal, city or provincial level, including the national polls.
To be sure, there are village level public servants whose core values lie on serving his neighbors and constituents as opposed to being a prized cog in the bigger political wheel that have a separate set of agenda and objectives.
As we select among the candidates, we challenge each and individual voters to learn how to discern the candidates that are truly representative of their neighborhood and the issues that matter to them, and will fight for them first and foremost. Let us not elect those who may only serve to perpetuate a corrupted political system.