Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ako Mismo! (pero mamaya na)


A party-list group in the Philippines recently asked the Supreme Court to order the Commission on Elections to extend the deadline for registration of voters for the 2010 national elections.

This came about after a clamor from Filipinos who were not able to make the deadline set by COMELEC, which was on October 31, 2009. The news channels kept on showing angry registrants complaining that they've been in line in the registration offices the entire day but they can't make the cut-off time. They wanted an extension.

According to this article, netizens even used the web to air their complaints about the long lines. There was even a quote from someone speaking in Kris Aquino-ish, "I really should register na talaga, but the lines are too long. Man, I regret this talaga."

Let me see. The registration of voters had been going on since December 2, 2008. After such a long period of time to register, people only decided to move their behinds to go to the registration offices on the last day of the registration period. They were given several months to ensure that they would be given a voice in the most important part of the nation's democratic process, and they only do so a few hours from the deadline. What's up with that?

People spend hours gossiping about which young actor is breaking up with who. They can go an entire day chatting up their friends in YM. They always have enough time to look at YouTube videos of cats and keyboards. They go out of their way to shop for the latest shoes or designer clothes. They wake up early in the morning just to be the first to buy a ticket to the latest movie about vampires and wizards.

And yet, they weren't able to spare a few hours to go to a COMELEC office anytime from December 2, 2008 to October 30, 2009.

Filipinos are always demanding change in Philippine politics. For the longest time, the cry has been that traditional politics should go the way of the Dodo, and that trapos should be run out of their offices. But these procrastinating people, when will they show the change that the motherland is asking them? When will we see the sense of urgency to make change happen in our society? Voters are the primary catalysts of change. U.S. President Barack Obama declared last year that "change has come to America" after the people voted an unpopular party out of power. When can we see a monumental change like that happen in RP when people can't spare a bit of time to make sure they can vote?

We want change in our culture and yet we can't change our habits. We hate traditional politics and yet we can't shake off the bad traits of our forefathers, like in this case, the "maƱana habit." Change has to start from the people, after all, our constitution states that "sovereignty resides in the People and all government authority emanates from them." The constitution believes in the wisdom of the people to do the right thing. Even if it means not being able to do the in-thing for a few hours in order to register.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And sometimes, having to miss an afternoon cappuccino at Starbucks.

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