"Voting lies at the core of our democracy."
The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which will be in place again beginning Friday, is expected to take a heavy toll on daily wage earners and small businesses. Whatever gains there may have been in terms of economic recovery stand to be wiped out. Some estimates place the loss at over P200 billion during the two-week period.
Then again, we place our trust in the experts who advised our decision makers at the local and national levels. The numbers are already fearsome as they are today. If another ECQ could ensure that fewer Filipinos would contract the virus, manifest symptoms and require urgent medical attention, then we are prepared to swallow this bitter pill notwithstanding its adverse effects on the economy. After all, the longer-term effect of a sickened population would be all the worse.
The new lockdown however will also affect yet another aspect of our nation’s life—the registration of new voters.
The Commission on Elections has been conducting the registration over the past year despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has had relative success, too, notwithstanding the circumstances. Spokesman James Jimenez says they have met their target number of new registrants. The poll body has tapped technology to help the registration process easier and safer for those who want to get into the voters’ list or reactivate their status.
As of press time Tuesday, there are no plans to extend the registration period to make up for lost time, given that the end of the period, Sept. 30, will soon give way to the start of filing of certificates of candidacy on Oct. 1.
We can only hope that the COVID situation drastically improves as the end of the registration period nears, so that more Filipinos, especially new voters, can get themselves counted.
Voting, after all, lies at the core of our democracy. It is even more fundamental than the various personalities and controversies that make up the circus that is Philippine elections. Perhaps the older voters have become much too frustrated that old systems remain despite the lavish promises made during the campaign season.
It is up to the younger, more idealistic and more discerning voters to give a new kind of governance—one not defined by patronage, or shifting loyalties, or a sense of entitlement to a position by virtue of one’s last name—a chance.