“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate. What’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate? “ – Will Rogers
The pain should be over by Monday. After 90 days of pandering, promises and propaganda we will finally get to exercise that most sacred right of democracies, the right of suffrage. As we go to the polls here are some frequently asked questions:
A. Who do I vote for? – Finding 12 good and honest men and women from the 33 running for Senator is a nightmare. Here is my rule of thumb: Do not vote for anyone who
1. has more than two relatives within the first degree of consanguinity –parents, children, siblings or their partners- already in or running for elective office.
2. has occupied the same high post – Senator, Congressman, Governor, Mayor- more than three times with nothing to show for it. It is time over-staying politicians found a proper job.
3. has a checkered history. A dubious past generally translates to a dubious present.
4. is not winnable, say does not rank in the top 17. No point wasting one’s vote on the laggards.
5. you would not have over for dinner.
Applying Rules 1-4 leaves Angara, Aquino, Escudero, Hontiveros, Gordon, Legarda, Jun Magsaysay, Madrigal, Pimentel, Poe, Trillanes and Villar. From these 12 you can now apply Rule 5 to get you down to your final list. Note: Arithmetically, the fewer the candidates you vote for, the better their chances of victory.
B. Can I disclose who I voted for? – It depends who asks and where. You can tell your friends but only if you voted for their relative. If in Mindanao keep mum unless you are ready to join the witness protection program.
D. What if asked by a member of the Church? – If approached by a clergyman other than Cardinal Tagle say you voted straight anti-RH if you do not wish to be singled out in the Sunday homily.
E. Should I sell my vote? – If proffered, take the money but do not sign a receipt. Inquire if it includes VAT and withholding. Then vote as you please.
F. Can I vote for more than 12 Senators? – This must be a trick question: Can you actually identify more than 12 candidates who deserve to be Senators? Anyway the answer is no, you can under-vote but not over-vote. If the former, you could still complete the ballot by filling the vacancies with those with no possibility of winning (e.g. Belgica, Llasos, Seneres, Falcone, Penson, Alcantara); to prevent somebody doing this for you.
G. How do I fill the ballot? – You should shade, check or cross the oval next to the candidate’s name. Be sure to mark more than 50% of the oval, otherwise the PCOS machine may not read it.
H. How do I dress for the occasion? – Dress lightly. Do not carry a backpack especially if black and suspiciously heavy as it will make your fellow voters nervous. If in Mindanao bring your flak jacket and running shoes.
I. Is there a Senior Citizen’s line? – Some precincts will have one but expect to be jeered by those sweating in the regular line if you join it.
J. Should I order my household help and staff how to vote? – Voting may be a matter of personal conscience but in your home and office it is not. Just kidding.
K. Will candidates thank me for my vote? – Good luck. Do not expect any candidate to talk to you for three years after Monday.
L. What should I do after voting? –Thank the teachers for their tireless work in protecting our democracy.
M. Why should I vote? – These elections are critical. One, they are a referendum on the President. They will hopefully prove to the world and, more to the point, to ourselves we can build on something good. Two, they will set the tone for 2016 when all the marbles are in play. Three -and this is very important- if we get it right, for the first time in this century we will be electing in Bam, Grace and Risa promising newcomers to high office. This will encourage other capable men and women to do likewise and break the vise that dynasties and professional operators have on Philippine politics.. The fate of these three – and I would include Jun Magsaysay- will tell us whether we have come of age as a nation.
M. Will my vote count? – Good question. Even if it will not, vote anyway because it is your right and your responsibility. It will also make you feel better about yourself.