Election fever is on. There are about 18,000 local positions and 12 national positions (senate seats) at stake on the May 13, 2019 Philippine election.
Filipinos vote based on the popularity of a candidate rather than based on the political ideology of the candidate or platform of the candidate’s political party. This is the reason why there are so many recycled candidates and politicians in the Philippines who manage to win and get elected despite their blemished public records and corruption scandals. This is true in both the local and the national fronts.
It is not hard to comprehend why attaining genuine democracy and progress in the Philippines is very hard. Why genuine democracy is an unrealized dream. One just has to look at how majority of the Filipino voters choose their candidates (from the barangay-level to the highest executive positions in the country). Case in point is the line-up of senators that Filipinos have elected and voted for during the past two decades— a world boxing legend; a popular TV comedian who also serves as the current senate president; a daughter of a movie king; sons of a former action star-politician; sons, daughters, and spouses of politicians from popular political dynasties and clans; and television and film personalities.
Do these senators reflect and represent the national concerns and priorities of the Filipino people?
Polling data and survey results state that Filipinos are most concerned about the state of the nation’s economy— increase in wages, inflation, poverty, jobs and employment.
The “least” in their concerns or at the bottom of their list as national priorities are population growth, national territorial defense, terrorism and charter change, fighting criminality, fighting graft and corruption in government, and promoting peace.
What about China’s intrusion in the territories that belong to the Philippines and the penetration of high-interest Chinese loans and capital?
Although polling data and surveys showed that there is growing skepticism among Filipinos about China and their investments in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity continues to be high despite his apparent pro-China policy.
It remains to be seen whether the skepticism towards China will translate into votes in favor of the opposition senatorial bets from the Otso Diretso lineup this coming May election as these opposition candidates have made their stand clear on the China issue.
Do Filipino voters understand the overall and strategic impact of the Chinese intrusion on the territories belonging to the Philippines and on the sovereignty of their nation? Do they understand the consequences of the high interest loans from China that the Duterte administration is amassing to support its “build, build, build” projects and programs? I ask these questions because the China issue has direct relationship to the issues that the majority of Filipinos are concerned about (increase in wages, inflation, poverty, jobs and employment).
Why? It is a fact that the high interest loans and investments from China are tied prominently to the participation of Chinese companies, workers, and professionals in the projects where the loans and investments are used. This agreement alone is a big question mark as there are so many jobless Filipinos and many more are leaving or have left the country to work as overseas workers or have immigrated in foreign lands.
There’s also the Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea where an international tribunal has already decided in favor of the Philippines but up to now, China insists that the territory is theirs and the Duterte administration has remained silent on the issue. Do the voters know about the gas and oil reserves in the territory and why it is important to make a stand on this issue?
The question remains— Will the China issue have an effect on how the voters will decide on May 13, 2019? Will they choose the senatorial bets from the opposition Otso Diretso or will they support Duterte’s senatorial candidates?
I can only pray and hope that Filipinos will vote wisely this coming May election. So much is at stake.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.