Let me echo the call of former Chief Justice and FEU alumnus Art Panganiban for all voters to make enlightened choices in the upcoming May 2016 elections. And I cannot overemphasize the importance of the need for clean, honest and orderly elections in a democracy such as ours. The vote of the people is “sacred and supreme” and as I have said before, in the same way that taxes are the lifeblood of government, credible elections are the lifeblood of a democracy. A tainted electoral exercise (or worse, a failure of election scenario) will certainly set the country back and ensure that we continue to languish at the bottom of the Asian pile. But a new government with a clear mandate will spur new energy which can hopefully propel our country to soar to new heights. In making such choices, CJ Art identified three attributes that we should look for in our national and local leaders. First is Trustworthiness which he posits as the foundation for good governance. Second is Integrity which I would describe as proactive honesty. CJ Art states that it is not enough that a leader will “distance himself from an evil conspiracy” or “refuse to tell a falsehood”, it is important as well that such leader “will punish the greedy, chase the robbers and prosecute the tyrants.” The third attribute is Probity which he describes as not merely “intellectuality or academic intelligence” but “the ability to do the right thing in the right way at the right time and for the right reasons.” And if I may add a fourth attribute - Strength. But I am not referring to an external, physical characteristic but to an internal, moral courage. Indeed, our leaders will not only need to “walk their talk” but they should also exhibit the capacity to boldly act on the pressing challenges that our country faces. For easy recall, CJ Art coined a three letter key word — TIP to which I wish to add an “S”, TIPS — Trustworthy, Integrity, Probity and Strength. * * * And speaking of tips, since this is the first time the country is conducting automated elections, I thought that it would be a good idea to put together a list of simple dos and don’ts to help make the process of voting as painless and seamless as possible. A. Before Election Day
1. Before the voting day, re-check your name in the precinct where you will be voting. You may do this online by logging on to www.comelec.gov.ph. Double check as well the physical location of the polling place as to make sure it has not been moved.
2. If a “kodigo” is a no-no in school, well it is highly encouraged in an election, particularly an automated election which involves a kilometric ballot. Indeed, you should already write the names and/or numbers of the candidates you will be voting for even before you head for the polling place. 3. For the technologically challenged, it might make sense for you to practice shading before election day. There are sample ballots available for this purpose. Remember that the Comelec has adopted a “no return-no exchange” policy with respect to official ballots so you cannot afford to make a mistake. 4. Be prepared to fall in line and wait. In this regard, make sure you are sufficiently nourished and hydrated. To persevere, you should always carry the thought that your vote will determine the outcome of the election. B. On Election Day
1. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to the polling place. However, you may not be allowed to vote if you wear any clothing or paraphernalia which can be considered partisan in nature. 2. You may vote anytime from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the extension of time designed to enable 1000 voters in clustered precincts to vote. In this respect, I trust that the Comelec did their homework insofar as time and motion studies are concerned. But as earlier advised, I suggest that you vote early as long lines may form towards the latter part of the day. A long line coupled with the sweltering heat we have all been experiencing the past few weeks may deter and discourage the faint hearted (literally and figuratively) from voting. 3. You will be provided a ballot, (the infamous) ballot secrecy folder and marking pen by one of the teachers who comprise the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). FULLY shade the oval beside the name of the candidates and party list of your choice. Remember you may UNDERVOTE (e.g., vote for less than 12 senators or not vote for a party list) but not OVERVOTE (i.e., vote for more than 12 senators) as this will result in your ballot being invalidated. 4. After accomplishing the ballot, the voter shall then insert it inside the PCOS machine which is designed to scan, record and photograph the ballot. In this regard, the voter should be careful that the ballot is not CRUMPLED, STAINED OR DEFACED in any major way. The voter should make sure that the ballot is successfully accepted by the machine. The ballot will then be dropped in a translucent ballot box. 5. The BEI chairman shall then apply indelible ink on the right forefinger nail of the voter. 6. The voter shall then affix his or her thumbmark on the space beside his or her name in the book of registered voters. * * * This week’s four centavos are evenly distributed as follows: One centavo to the Comelec as an incentive to conduct clean and orderly elections; one centavo to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for securing the safety and sanctity of our electoral exercise; one centavo to our teachers who will be (wo)manning the trenches on May 9; and one centavo to the committed voter, the repository of Philippine sovereignty, who will suffer the long lines and brave the elements to exercise his or her right of suffrage. * * * “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” — Mother Theresa