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The electoral hodgepodge

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

…and that’s the truth

FOUR days before election day, the air is thick with apprehension. Is the Comelec ready to cope with the Big Day, with all these blackouts and brownouts here and there? How can they guarantee there’ll be no more cyber-hacking? If Comelec computers can be hacked, how can we be sure election results won’t be tampered with? Will it be a safe and peaceful election? Will there be no cheating, no vote-buying, no poll-related violence, really? Will my candidates make it, or will they be cheated out of a rightful victory? There will be cheating for sure—and candidates to high offices are ready with countermeasures—because the candidate a “superpower” wants as our next president must become our next president.

The high level of anxiety seems to be caused by the way various media are giving prominence to survey results. SWS, Pulse Asia, and other survey results by themselves can’t affect people’s views—but when disclosed they become media meat, and when social media join the foray, the significance of the figures gets blown out of proportion. Worse is when people depend on survey results in deciding whom to vote for. We must bear in mind that surveys reveal the sentiment of merely 1,800 respondents out of the country’s 54.4 registered voters. Despite the claims of those who conduct them, surveys are not impervious to human error or evil.

But let’s not blame SWS, Pulse Asia, or the media when the “final survey results” revealed on election day are not to our liking. We must be prepared for that by putting our intelligence and our faith in the service of our vote. The CBCP Pastoral Letter Prophets of Truth, Servants of Unity hit the nail on the head when it said, “… the Catholic Church has always demanded of Catholic voters that they cast their votes as an act not only of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith. We ask this most earnestly of all of you, Catholic brothers and sisters, in the forthcoming election.”

Unlike the INC whose flock merely follows the choice of their leadership, the Catholic Church trusts its members and gives them the freedom to use their individual conscience in voting. And by this Pastoral Letter, it does something more—it places God in the heart of the electoral process by urging people to pray:

“We commend the various initiatives of our Catholic laity and other youth associations to come together and pray for guidance in choosing the right leaders. In particular, we encourage you to pray the rosary every day and receive Holy Communion starting May 1 until May 9. In this novena of rosaries and Masses, we claim from the Lord the gift of a godly electoral process. With the permission of the bishops, the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed for public adoration to beg the Lord for the gift of peaceful elections.”

See, the media hoopla surrounding the elections is dividing families and making enemies of friends (who support warring candidates). Our politicization as a people has all but rubbed God out of the picture. Why are we so het up about the elections? It’s all a gamble—election results can’t make us sure of anything, but for sure God is with us, and will still be with us after May 9. The world will spin on whoever wins, whether by honest or dishonest means. Promises will be broken, and the candidates who made them will be humbled to realize they cannot deliver the changes they thought they had the power to effect. Politicians have been promising and breaking promises since the time of Cicero, and they will continue to do so for as long as they are moved by ungodly forces.

Whoever we’re voting as our next president, it’s more important that we ask ourselves: “Am I determined to be a better citizen whoever the president is—to love my country finally? Or will I continue to be indifferent and self-centered, to steal, cheat, and lie at my job?” No president, king, emperor—no one man—can save a country, not even change it in a significant way.  All the heroes we lionize are but inspiring characters in history books—and history books are bound to rot or be rewritten. As for me, I “do not trust in princes, in mortal man…” (Psalm 146:3) but, yes, I trust in the Living God, the God who makes His dwelling in us if we love Him and keep His word.  And that’s the truth.

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