Word of the President’s desire to have the 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections held, coming by way of his spokesman, is a welcome addition to the ongoing discussion about the fate of the village polls. Coming as it does, on the heels of renewed rumblings of postponement, the clear stand taken by the Chief Executive should quiet things down and finally give the public a respite from this back-and-forth that’s been going on since 2016. Now, we can focus on the more important business of getting voters ready to sensibly exercise their right of suffrage.
First of all, find out who’s running for office. Although the official period for the filing of certificates of candidacy is still more than a month away—April 14 to 20, to be more precise—it’s a safe bet that everyone in the barangay already knows who’s interested in what position. After all, the first rule of the candidate’s club is to never shut up about being a candidate. So take advantage of these early announcements and start looking closer at those who intend to run for office.
Second, get your priorities straight. Too often, we put off choosing who to vote for until the very last minute. Some do it because they’re waiting for the highest bidder, most do it out of sheer inattention—they simply don’t notice how quickly the days fly by. If you let that happen, however, then you’re only selling yourself short.
If you have to rush the decision, then you’re probably not going to have enough time to think things through, never mind figuring out what would be in the barangay’s best interest. So, while it’s still relatively early, take the time to list down all the things your barangay sucks at. Is it garbage collection? Is it safety and security? Is it providing for the community’s basic needs? If you can pin down the three biggest shortcomings of your barangay, then you have a basis for comparing the hopefuls and determining which among them will be most likely to meet the challenges of running a barangay.
Third, evaluate the wannabes. A lot of groups will be presenting you with criteria you can use. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, for example, will give you faith-based standards to measure the candidates against. The Department of the Interior and Local Government, on the other hand, will encourage you to select a candidate who is—among other things—tough on drugs.
While these criteria are good enough, know that you are under no obligation to adopt any of them. The choice of who to vote for is yours exclusively, and how you arrive at that choice is really a matter for which you are answerable only to your own conscience.
Having said that, however, I would make a number of requests: In deciding who to vote for, do not be lazy and just go with whoever is popular; do not be selfish and think only of what you can get from a candidate; and—most important—do not be an idiot and allow yourself to be blinded by money. Take your right to vote seriously, and consider it the biggest contribution you can give to your community. Remember, you’ve already been denied this right to choose your leaders twice before and it’d be a crying shame if, now that you’ve got it, you waste it. Carpe diem? Well, I say carpe suffragium—seize the vote—and make it count, not just for your own benefit, but for the greater good.