The primary aspect of the democratic process that has been affected by the pandemic is electoral campaigning. Campaigns are opportunities for candidates to spread their ideas about how public policies should change or remain the same. Campaigns allow candidates to woo the electorates by visiting their towns and cities during provincial sorties, proclamation rallies, and meeting de avance.
During political rallies and meetings, it allows the candidates for public conversation and deliberation, engage in debates, and enable them to appear during public gatherings and other occasions. At stake in this election are positions from the presidency down to the lowest level of local government. Preparation for this major electoral exercise is inevitably affected by the difficult battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, our country cannot afford to postpone the elections. Since it’s all system go for next year’s poll, the purpose of HOPE should be pursued: honest, orderly, and peaceful elections.
HOPE has always been a challenge in every election. It will be even more so as the nation is preoccupied with balancing lives and livelihood in its battle against the pandemic.
The COMELEC should study rules on campaigning in the time of COVID like the use of social media, social networking sites, and other online platforms. It must set guidelines on the use of government resources for the campaign. Our armed forces and the police should also intensify their efforts and established their presence in all towns and cities, not only in areas considered as election hotspots, as a deterrent to crime, election-related violence, and other lawlessness.
The vote is the ultimate expression of the power of the people in a democracy like ours. It is a power that can bring a drastic change in many aspects of life in this country. Our choices are decisive and crucial as we wage war against poverty.
Sadly, many politicians nowadays are becoming experts at suppressing the democratic expression of the people’s will.
Suffrage is a right that must be exercised with care and responsibility. We have the power to make this country a better place. So, therefore, make good use of that power and wield it wisely.
Philippine democracy is dying. Let us please exercise our rights conscientiously and use the May 2022 elections to breathe new life to help save our struggling democracy.