basco

making up for lost time: electioneering

it's been a month since my last entry, and there are reasons, largely attributable to my lack of internet access, and partly to my lack of time to write, although i actually had a lot of time in general. notice that this sentence does not even mention lack of inspiration, for i have not had a shortage of that lately. i have been too blessed, in fact, that i am tempted to ask whether all these are deserved, and whether these can be sustained. having said that, and knowing that a few people might be a little interested in what has taken place in my life, i might as well start from the very beginning.

on the 13th of may, i took a late night bus to cabanatuan city for some election work. it lasted until the 16th of may, and my candidates lost, and not by a slim margin. since i was allowed to vote, i have always participated in the national elections, not just as part of the electorate, but as an active volunteer of the NAMFREL. the last 2 elections, however, having acquired a different professional status, i have decided to become a prostitute. a hired gun. a sellout. i offered my services to a paying customer. my services consisted of my knowledge of election law, and the paying customers were candidates for various electoral posts. but although i was paid to pursue a very specific interest, i don't think i had done away with the principles that i still hold on to with not-so-firm a grip. in a way, i pursued the ends of justice, made sure that my candidate's votes were counted, and that the people's mandate was fulfilled. i did not, in any way, contribute to the misappreciation of ballots, or assisted in carrying out a mass disenfranchisement of voters. i did not make trivial motions and manifestations meant only to delay any proceeding. i was there as a vanguard of justice no less.

from my experiences with elections, i have come to a few conclusions. that people who do not vote on the pretext that elections are rigged anyway are no better than candidates and election officers who are themselves the instruments of cheating. if you firmly believe that elections are not a faithful reflection of the people's will, then everything else follows. you begin to doubt the idea of democracy, and refuse to accept the decisions of this false authority. you might as well build your own country. i honestly think, and cutebalddiver expressed the same thing in an earlier entry of his, that people who do not vote have no right or reason to complain about how this country is being run, because they had absolutely no contribution to the selection of its leaders. a lot of us tend to complain so much, but few of us have actually done anything to address our complaints. we always think that other people should do something, and yet we refuse to do anything.

a further note on cheating in elections. yes, cheating occurs. but for 90% of those who say so with utmost conviction, cheating is only a concept that exists vicariously, in the realm of hearsay, far from the spheres of their experiences. ask these persons, those who decide to go instead on vacation rather than participate in an election, if they have actually seen cheating first hand, what will they say? they've heard stories. always, they've heard stories. stories of cheating are most often told by losing candidates. in the many times that i have volunteered and lawyered for elections, i have actually not seen cheating at all. no, i have not seen anyone insert fake ballots. no, i have not seen fake COCs of SOVs. no, i have not seen anyone given an amount of money to vote for a particular candidate, or not to vote for a particular candidate. so does cheating exist? yes it does, but i remain hopeful because in so far as i am concerned, i have not personally seen it. at the precinct level, on the day of the election itself, it is very hard to witness cheating. in all likelihood, the fake ballots have been accomplished a day ahead of election day. or that once COCs are transmitted to the city or provincial board of canvassers, magic takes place. but that exactly is my point. what is the source of this firm conviction that we are a nation of cheats, when we ourselves have not seen it, have not participated in it, or have no proof to show that it has actually taken place? we tend to be selective of our opinions -- that if candidate A wins, justice was served, but if candidate B loses, then cheating on a massive scale has just taken place.

the problem is that this nation's educated class has given up on the concept of a popular vote. i truly hope that this education would be more of a tool for genuine change, rather than a hindrance to achieving the ends of democracy.

anyway, this entry on elections is long overdue. just as the proclamation of the 12th senator has been taking an excruciatingly long time. the reason i've delayed this is that i wasn't paid for my my services until fairly recently. and i had made advances on an imagined payment that when it finally came, it passed through my hands like grains of sand. i hardly felt it!