Ano Ang Right of Suffrage? Bakit Ito Mahalaga

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 Choosing the next national leaders is approaching, and even if there is no official announcement yet about the 2022 elections, the potential candidates are already ‘low-key’ strategizing their campaign to win the hearts of many Filipinos. Names of prominent politicians are airing in media and even though they are not allowed yet to post their faces on the streets, tarpaulins of those who show interest in running were already scattered in several cities and provinces in the country. With their best efforts in performing their duties while they are in their current position today, some leaders crawl to the top of the ladder of those prospective candidates based on the pulse of the public. 

Surveys on leaders who are more like to win are already being conducted so that citizens will have an idea about the roster of candidates that they could possibly choose from. In the Philippines, politics is a big fuss and there is always a heated debate among netizens about the actions of the national leaders most especially if there is a controversial affair that the politicians are involved into. With this, suffrage comes into picture because everyone who has met the qualifications have the right to vote for their desired candidate.

What is suffrage?

Suffrage is the right of the citizens to vote in electing public officials which is also a way to exercise a person’s right to participate in the society. As stipulated in Article 5, Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election,” (Source: Official Gazette). When it comes to the exercise of suffrage, no substantive requirement shall be imposed to the citizens such as his/her literacy, gender, or economic status. 

 Moreover, part of this right is to protect the confidentiality of the ballots of the voters. A system for sanctity and secrecy of the ballot is also implemented most especially for those who are disabled and illiterate. Even qualified Filipino voters abroad are also assured that their votes are secured through an established system for absentee voting. The voters have also the right to choose the candidate that they are going to vote, and their choice shall not be used against them because everyone one has the freedom to vote whoever candidate they prefer. 

Why voting is important?

  • Our power to vote is a game-changer. Election is a significant event in our country because it concerns our state of living, our laws, the taxes we pay, the life of the poor and needy, and most especially the public welfare. It is always a turning point of who should serve once again or who should be removed or be replaced. If you think that your vote does not make an impact in the sea of millions, you are probably wrong because it contributes to the pool of ballots that could elect your bet. 
  • It is a crucial role as a citizen. We are the ones who give power to those who will be in-charge of the state that is why it is a crucial moment for everyone. Voting must be taken seriously because those who will be elected could either make or break our future. Those leaders who we permitted to secure a seat could give as better lives, but they also have the equal power to ruin our living. 
  • Voting is an investment for our future. This could sound as an exaggeration but when you will think of it, it is actually true. It is because voting the right leaders could elevate the quality of living in our country and we could enjoy the benefits and other gains that we could get from the government if the public officials could only establish a system that will purely serve the public and not their personal intentions.

How to exercise your right to vote?

  • Educate yourself. Voting is a right vested upon us but as responsible citizens, we must take a closer look on their qualifications, affiliations, and potentials as public officials. We should have a background check first because a careless decision could risk the situation of our country.
  • Get involved in the discussions about the candidates. Even though you cannot go out and freely interact with people during this time, you could still voice out your thoughts on social media which could also cater a wider audience. Reading legit posts about elections and candidates is also a great help for you to decide who to pick.
  • Influence others to do the same. If you are educated enough and you always have evidence to back up your claim about elections or some candidates, then more people will believe in you. Being reliable and credible enough give you power to influence other people so use your platform to persuade them to register and vote so they could take part on this movement to change the current system that we want to oust.

Final Thoughts

We are all craving for change and more and more Filipinos are already becoming aware and educated on what is really happening around us. Our administrative system is problematic and policies are flawed. The government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is also faulty. Priorities are misplaced and with all these mess and chaos that we are trying to endure, many of us are already fed up. “Babawi tayo sa 2022 elections!” is the tagline whenever we are hearing news about the controversies involving our current public officials. The pandemic brought out the worst of people. It revealed that a faulty system itself could be a poison that could literally kill people. We do not want these sufferings to happen again so step up and exercise your right to vote by choosing the right leaders that could make our country a better place for all the Filipinos. 

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