Hope shines in the Year of the Tiger

BASED on the latest poll of Social Weather Station (SWS), an overwhelming 93 percent of Filipinos expressed optimism about 2022. Conducted last December 12 to December 16, the SWS survey result was released just before the New Year.

Among the country’s major geographical areas, Metro Manila registered the highest hope at 95 percent. Balance Luzon and Mindanao followed at 93 percent, while the Visayas had a recorded rate of 90 percent.

2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger, which officially begins on February 1 in the Oriental lunar calendar. Feng shui experts predict that it will be a year made for bold action, since the tiger is known for its power and ability to do everything on a grand scale whereas water is associated with being sensitive, creative, and open to change.

Tiger years have been times of change, and this can be gleaned from the last three—2010, 1998 and 1986 —which were also election years in the Philippines. Presidents Benigno Aquino III, Joseph Estrada and Corazon Aquino won during those years marked by tumultuous events that ushered in periods of transition.

Four months from now, Filipinos will elect a new President who shall lead the nation during the post-pandemic era. The May 9, 2022 presidential election is said to be a referendum on the country’s political system, specifically on whether democracy or authoritarianism is the preferred pathway for the biggest plurality of voters.

Democracy may not be a perfect system, but it is still the best form of government in which the citizens determine its policies through elected representatives, direct voting, or a combination of both.

Case in point is the third congressional district of Camarines Sur (CamSur) province where voters are urging the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) to provide them a legitimate representative in the last six months of the Duterte administration.

This came after the HRET reportedly wrapped up its recount of the actual ballots cast in the contested May 2019 legislative election between incumbent Representative Gabriel H. Bordado Jr. and the late former Governor Luis R. Villafuerte Sr., who passed away last year.

HRET insiders revealed that Villafuerte won his protest against Bordado by a margin of 776 votes during the manual recount of the physical ballots by the House panel last December 6 to December 15. For his part, Bordado did not file a counter-protest nor seek a recount of other clustered precincts other than those listed by Villafuerte. Hence, there is nothing left for the HRET to do but to close the case and declare Villafuerte as the legitimate winner of the congressional race.

But since Villafuerte is no longer around to occupy the seat in the legislature, the House Speaker has an option to name a caretaker representative who will serve the remainder of his term. There have been several precedents in the past involving contested congressional seats: Surigao del Sur and Pasig City, with the real winners serving only a few months or even a few minutes before their terms expired.

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco must correct this electoral injustice by immediately naming the caretaker as soon as Congress resumes its session on January 17. The people of CamSur’s third district, which includes Naga City and the capital town of Pili, should be first and foremost in the minds of congressional leaders when they make a final decision on this protest case.

The importance of democracy should be viewed through the lens of the other alternatives such as dictatorship, monarchy and theocracy–which are comparatively worse in terms of achieving equality. Under those three systems of government, the constituents allow one person or a group of people to exclusively make decisions for an entire population. In contrast, democracy allows all groups and individuals to participate in politics, regardless of race, socioeconomic class, and gender identity.

So much is at stake in the coming presidential election, which is seen as a make-or-break political exercise for the entire nation. The results will be crucial in determining where our economy is headed to in the next six years. Hopefully the electorate will vote for a servant leader who cares for the well-being of the citizenry and upholds the rule of law.

Joseph Gamboa is the chairman of the Finex Media Affairs Committee and director of Noble Asia Industrial Corp. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions and the BusinessMirror.


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