ANGARAYʾS TAKE: Stages of election

From the FB account of Board member Cromwell Kiril Dinlayan

By Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/21 January 2019) Together with representatives from government agencies, candidates aspiring for elective positions in Bukidnon for the 2019 local election joined a unity walk, an interfaith prayer rally and a peace covenant-signing last January 13, 2019.

The activity marked the beginning of the election period, which will include a campaign period on February 12 to May 11 for the senatorial candidates and March 29 to May 11 for the local candidates. Thousands of candidates will vie for a position out from 243 district representatives, 81 governors, 780 provincial board members, 145 city mayors and 1,489 municipal mayors and thousands of local councilors.

The unity walk is symbolic. Few weeks from now, the candidates will launch and flaunt their partisanship – especially with their varying political beliefs and affiliations.

Despite these differences, each candidate is invited to participate in this unity walk towards a peaceful election. Holding an interfaith prayer is recognition of the significance of spiritual intervention –  not just religious backing –  to political exercise. It won’t take long, however, before the candidates will seek the blessing of religious institutions.

Among the three undertakings, the peace covenant-signing is the most intricate, needing each candidate’s decision to signify his or her promise to keep the value of suffrage (right to vote and be voted upon). The covenant of peace will push for a war on vote-buying and vote-selling. The moral strength of those candidates behind the signatures will be tested and sanctified; and be celebrated if it produces a successful and honest election.

The pre-election stage, preparation and campaign period for the election in May 2019, is as important as the post-election stage when the election’s result will be proclaimed. The conduct of unity walk among the candidates from different political parties during pre-election stage gives hint on the would-be status of the May 2019 election stage and post-election stage. It is a good sign of sportsmanship and it will remain as that depending on the sincerity of the candidates. It is a good indicator of active conscience that prevents vote-buying and vote-selling depending on the integrity of the candidates especially those who signified their signature in the peace covenant.

However, pre-election stage should include not only the preparation of voting centers, the election articles (ballot, machine, tally sheet, etc.) and the election facilitators but also of the voting populace.

The readiness of the well-informed and moral-equipped voters is a very critical consideration in the pre-election stage, providing them platforms to listen and participate in open discourses on relevant issues. Could we equate the campaign rallies of political parties to intelligent discourses? Could the social media provide the reliable information and data related to political decision-making? Or, could the election paraphernalia, those colorful sheets bearing texts and images of the candidates, help educate the voters whom to vote wisely?

May the less than 50-day campaign period serve the voters well and satisfy the requirement of suffrage during the election day on May 13, the special day which hails the people power.

On that same day, as it is believed, is the massive endorsement of power and authority from the voters to the would-be leaders. The election stage happens in a day, once and for everybody’s welfare.

The post-election stage, the most awaited, signals a new threshold of governance and a new set of challenges in the political arena. The elected leaders are entitled to be reminded of the following:

Do not use the authority given you to enrich yourself, for this is a great sin against Nengazen who is the source of all skill and wisdom which he has only lent to us humans while we still journey here on earth.

You have the power to order and instruct, for you are the head, the eyes, the mouth, and the ears, who guide and lead the whole village, because you understand how to judge between good and evil. 

This excerpt, taken from A Voice From the Hill (1989), is part of the counsel of the elders given to the newly installed Manobo datu. It is a good reminder that authority is lent to the elected officials for a period of time thus, it has to be managed wisely. Sound judgment is a prerequisite to good governance in which the people’s condition, in abundance or in scarcity, reflects the effectiveness of the officials.

This season of pre-election calls for a careful preparation for a grand political performance on May 13. Conducting another unity walk, interfaith prayer and peace covenant-signing during the post-election stage is a good idea. Why not?

(The author is a social science educator at Bukidnon State University, where she also works as in-charge of the Bukidnon Studies Center, formerly university museum. Angaray’s Take is her column for BukidnonNews.Net. Reach her via editor.bukidnonnews@gmail.com)