In a few months, all of us registered voters will go out to make our voices heard by casting our votes. We are expected to choose our candidates by listening to the command of our intellect and the dictates of our conscience.
But what should we, in turn, expect from the people that we are about to elect?
The following is the list of commandments that we should demand our political candidates to adhere to and live by for them to gain or maintain a modicum of decency and moral uprightness. (Thanks to social media, we no longer need to etch this list in stone tablets and have it declared atop Mt. Sinai like what Moses did!)
Some of these commandments, by the way, are already covered by the law or by the Comelec rules but may not be closely monitored or strictly enforced. Familiarizing ourselves, therefore, with these commandments could help us determine who among our candidates are habitual violators and who are law-abiding.
Altogether, let us be aware and vigilant.
- Thou shall not buy votes. Thou shall respect the sanctity of votes. If the ballot is for sale in the first place, it should have been made available in the stores nearest thou years ago. Thou shall not also amass or harbor flying voters.
- Thou shall not over-spend before and during the campaign and election periods. It may not be illegal to over-spend prior to the campaign period, but it certainly is not moral, either. It is not also fair to other less financially-endowed candidates. Most importantly, it will give rise to corruption and patronage politics should thou win the election. Within the campaign period, thou shall make sure to spend within the legal limit and to truthfully declare such expenditures to Comelec as imposed by the law.
- Thou shall not be involved in indiscrimate campaigning. Thou shall ensure that all thy campaign materials adhere to the size allowed by Comelec. Thou shall use only the common areas specifically designated for the posting of said campaign paraphernalia. Thou shall make sure that thy supporters shall not vandalize, tear down or cover other candidates’ posters and tarps. After the election, win or lose, thou shall voluntarily require thy supporters to clean up until not a single campaign material is left on the streets. Both thy house-to-house campaigning and thy campaign vehicles which loudly play thy jingles shall not be staged and shall not do the rounds during the most unholy hour of the day.
- Thou shall not think, say or do ill things about and to thy fellow candidates. Thou shall raise the bar of campaigning by avoiding mud-slinging, black propaganda, smear campaign and childish bickering. Thou shall serve as the standard by which others shall be measured. All candidates must be judged solely according to thy integrity/principles, experience, platforms and stand on various socio-political issues. Needless to say, thou shall not have thy opponents harassed, bullied, coerced, intimidated, threatened, injured or assassinated.
- Thou shall not lie. Thou shall divulge only true and accurate information about thyself such as thy medical condition, citizenship, educational attainment, political accomplishments, etc. And for us to recognize thou should our paths cross, thou shall use thy most recent and least photoshopped picture for thy campaign materials. Also, thou shall not make up excuses to avoid media interviews and public debates. The electorate has the right to know how prepared thou are to handle the position thou are running for.
- Thou shall not use any government resources to further thy campaign. Red-plated vehicles and government-owned audio-visual equipment, for instance, shall not be utilized during the proclamation rally, motorcade, meeting de avance, and other campaign-related activities and events. Similarly, thy campaign materials shall not be printed using the printing press operated by the government.
- Thou shall not use thy power and influence as an incumbent official to gain an edge over thy opponents. If thou, for instance, happen to be the DSWD Secretary prior to thy filing of thy COC, thou shall not solicit the votes of an entire community in exchange of a promise to have them be recipients of the Conditional Cash Transfer program.
- Thou shall not demean this democratic process or insult the intelligence of the voting public by turning thy campaign rallies into a spectacle of dancing, singing or acting candidates. If thou want to show off thy talent in the performing arts, thou better audition for ABS-CBN’s Star Magic or GMA-7’s Artist Center.
- Thou shall not make promises that thou are not committed to keep. If thou promise during the campaign that no family will go hungry during thy term, or that no one will be a squatter in his own country, or that every Filipino will have a job, thou better deliver. With today’s modern technology, it is extremely easy to record and make a compilation of all the promises thou have made while campaigning, and to be held accountable for them should thou bag that most sought-after position.
- Thou shall not cheat. Thou shall honor the voice of the people, and once the people have spoken through their ballots, their choices shall be considered sacred. Thou shall not try to manipulate the election outcome through illegal and unscrupulous means.
We have the Fair Election Act (RA No. 9006) to provide equal opportunity for all the Comelec-recognized candidates and to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. But with some brilliant minds that are capable of manipulating or circumventing the law to their advantage, what we need are candidates that are truly deserving of our votes – candidates of unquestionable integrity and uncompromising principles, and with ardent concern for the underprivileged and genuine love for our country.