During a chat last Friday with DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin about the May 9, 2022 elections, he described the importance of elections as existential to our democracy. I agree. The importance of regular general elections cannot be overemphasized, most especially during these times.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines election as “The act of choosing or selecting one or more from a greater number of persons, things, courses, or rights. The choice of an alternative. State v. Tucker, 54 Ala. 210.” But what is the function of elections? A quick search on the web and you’ll get this from Encyclopedia Britannica, which states under “Functions of Elections”: “Elections make a fundamental contribution to democratic governance. Because direct democracy—a form of government in which political decisions are made directly by the entire body of qualified citizens—is impractical in most modern societies, democratic government must be conducted through representatives. Elections enable voters to select leaders and to hold them accountable for their performance in office. Accountability can be undermined when elected leaders do not care whether they are reelected or when, for historical or other reasons, one party or coalition is so dominant that there is effectively no choice for voters among alternative candidates, parties, or policies. Nevertheless, the possibility of controlling leaders by requiring them to submit to regular and periodic elections helps to solve the problem of succession in leadership and thus contributes to the continuation of democracy. Moreover, where the electoral process is competitive and forces candidates or parties to expose their records and future intentions to popular scrutiny, elections serve as forums for the discussion of public issues and facilitate the expression of public opinion. Elections thus provide political education for citizens and ensure the responsiveness of democratic governments to the will of the people. They also serve to legitimize the acts of those who wield power, a function that is performed to some extent even by elections that are noncompetitive.”
During the time of a pandemic, the importance of an election becomes even more significant. Testament to this is the fact that countries all over the world continue to exercise this basic democratic function. Counties like Belarus, Burundi, Iceland, Israel, Kiribati, Malawi, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, and South Korea are some of the over 30 countries which held elections so far this year, with over 20 more scheduled to hold their elections later this year, which includes the elections in the USA on November 3, 2020. Countries, no matter if developed or developing, rich or struggling, no matter what continent. These countries have one thing in common, they understand the importance of an elections, even in the time of a pandemic.
In the Philippines, the next scheduled elections is on May 9, 2022. It’s a presidential election where we’ll choose the next president, vice president, and 12 senators, who’ll be in office for six years. We’ll also choose Members of the House of Representatives (district and party-list) and local officials (from governor to municipal councilor) whose term of office is three years.
With Dr. Fauci (world’s leading coronavirus expert) estimating that about 2 billion people will be vaccinated mid-2021, I’m not sure if everyone in the Philippines can be vaccinated in time for the 2022 elections. Currently there are about seven billion people in the world we live in. So it’s best to act as if there will still be health risk during the time we’ll be conducting our elections.
But even if there is still a health risk, it doesn’t mean to say everything should stop. In fact, even right now, in the middle of a pandemic, you, the reader…. Yes, you, are still able to do normal everyday activities, although with more caution. You can still go to the bank to transact. You can still run to the grocery store to buy supplies. You can either have food delivered to you, or you can eat in a restaurant (with proper physical distancing being observed). People are adjusting to the new normal. In fact, in just a few days, Boracay will open up again to local tourists (subject to health protocols), so you can take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about for months.
That was the point I wanted to emphasize last week. If we can do all those things, including taking a beach vacation, there is absolutely no reason or justification that we can’t go out and vote, especially since the elections is still more than eighteen (18) months away, with more than adequate time to prepare for it.
How do you prepare for the May 9, 2022, elections. That’s what I’ll discuss in my column on September 30.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and register as a voter.