Attended by several religious leaders from different churches in Palawan and by some political candidates, the Inter-Faith Rally in Mendoza Park held last April 27 was a resounding statement of faith playing an important role in the political sphere. The relationship is like that of a soul to a body. Hence, those who still shun churches to fulfill a mission in the politics are either miseducated or just plain imbecile. Or perhaps, they may have selfish interests that they would not want religion to stand along the way of their vicious plan and corrupted ways.

Accordingly, we can speak of two fundamental truths about the Church vis a vis politics. One, the mission is merely confined on the formation of conscience; and two, endorsement of a particular party or candidate is forbidden. On this note, it is rather obligatory that the church must be a guide in pursuing an electoral integrity. In other words, ensure CHAMP – Clean, Honest, Accountable, Meaningful & Peaceful Election.

Civil society must do its share too. Palawan is fortunate enough to have various groups actively working towards a better society. The recent candidates’ forum is proof. Needless to say, these groups are powered by relatively young individuals. This kind of initiative must be strengthened and be given attention to.

Support must come foremost from those who seek positions in the government. This may not decisively make you win an election, but it will certainly win for you the respect of the civil society, and the people in general, once you attend such fora.

The forum’s slogan has been “We Are Who We Vote” (I was convenor/moderator in the first 2016 forum, with Judge Leo Legaspi steering.) In other words, our elected officials reveal the kind of voters we are. When election is done in a CHAMP way, that is. But when politicians cheat their way to victory, we must object vehemently that we are not who we voted for.

That saying, and looking at the political landscape of Palawan, methinks this is the kind of politicians that should deserve our votes. They must be MAID.

Maverick: Independent-minded and can speak his/her mind. Not tameme and sunod-sunuran na lang. Beholden to no one. Must be ready to go against the tide, and if need be, to rock the boat in times of complacencies. Unafraid to contradict and be contradicted by popular opinions nor by a powerful egoist. In other words, a maverick is palaban. Beyond kaibigan ng bayan, sandigan ng mamamayan, madaling lapitan, etc. When somebody is palaban, it guarantees check and balance.

Articulate: May sense kapag nagsasalita. Able to visualize and verbalize dreams for Palawan. Can covey track-record (if ever there is) and platforms. Enough of motherhood statements like “tulungan ang mga katutubo”, “ayusin ang paaralan”, “iangat ang antas…” Enough of this sort either – Business, Health, Order, Youth … BHOY for whatever-position. Try again and try harder. A true leader communicates ideals truthfully and motivatingly.

Innovative: By innovation, I mean technology and creativity. These two are spaces of the youth. If they have to win they must connect with the millennials. Young people comprise majority of us. They could no longer be considered as “kinabukasan ng bayan” because their time has already arrived. Listen to the young. Use social media. Discover and consider their loads of ideas and talents.

Determined: Determination comes from within. A good public servant is first of all a principled private individual. “What will profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?” Win an election, and lose your self-respect? Win an office, and lose your family’s reputation? Strength comes from the heart. If you have that, you will be unfazed against detractors. After all, detractors are actually closet avid fans. Inggit lang sila.

And so, for the beautiful Palawan, there should only be CHAMP & MAID… and no to BHOY. Let us have a good vote.