Due diligence | Philstar.com

INTROSPECTIVETony F. Katigbak – The Philippine Star

October 12, 2021 | 12:00am


Election season is now in full swing and I suspect it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Historically, election season is hardly ever an easy process in the Philippines. There are always so many candidates, a plethora of platforms and promises, and difficulties in both registering and actual voting. Filipinos have found elections to be messy, confusing, and usually disappointing.

Over the past week, with new candidates emerging, social media has become a hotbed for election talk, and friends and family have been both discussing and fighting over the options. Battle lines are being drawn as people begin to flock to their chosen candidate and hold on to their hopes for what’s to come in May 2022.

Personally, while the passion to participate in the voting process is admirable, I don’t think a “them vs. us” or “us vs. you” attitude is the best way to move forward right now. The pandemic has stripped us bare and has revealed problems that need to be solved for the country to be able to move forward and more than politicking or fighting amongst ourselves we need to be considerate and look at each candidate’s roadmap for the future.

In this election, more than ever before, a solid concrete way forward is going to be the most important aspect of any candidate’s campaign. Filipinos have historically been swayed to vote with their emotions – for candidates who may have made them laugh or feel good in the present. There’s too much at stake this time around to vote based on feelings alone. Right now, there are problems to be solved and we need to see how each candidate plans to solve these problems.

Election season has always been hard. And it’s difficult to separate emotions and logic, especially when you are thinking about the future you are hoping to build. But for the sake of unity – now more than ever – we have to be smart. We need to be able to listen with an open mind to all the arguments, to all the speeches, to all the proposals, and discern carefully which candidate will do the best job for the country.

That is going to be one of the most challenging parts. Discerning what is true and what is false from all the noise. Alternative facts and fake news have already started making the rounds on social media and are getting shared and spread. We need to be able to funnel where we get our news, double and triple-check our sources, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by a post on Facebook just because it “looks real.”

We need to do our due diligence and encourage others to do the same. Promises and pretty words are one thing, but results are another. And it’s always during election season that we hear candidates promising us everything and the kitchen sink. It’s nice to hear and enticing, no doubt, but now we have to gauge if their plans are possible and demand to see a concrete action plan of how it’s going to work. If the plan is to improve infrastructure – find out how this is going to happen, what’s the first step? Ask about real projects, not potential ones. If education is going to be the focus – find out what that means and how things will change? Improved teacher’s salaries? Easier access to public education? No matter what the promises are, it’s up to us to see if they can be fulfilled.

Voters have just as much of a responsibility as the candidates during the election season. We must arm ourselves with knowledge and find out the truth. That’s how we are going to decide who the best choices are – based on the facts that we’ve confirmed.

What’s more – we need to have those uncomfortable political discussions. Recently, I’ve noticed most people clam up when the topic of politics comes up and I can’t blame them. Too many people fighting and yelling at one another over it, does make me understand why some people would just rather not talk about it at all. However, this does not help either. The only way to learn and to reach out is to open yourself up to discussions, including with people whose opinions you may disagree with.

At the end of the day, if we don’t open ourselves up to the process and the people, we’ll remain in echo chambers with those who think like us and not make any real change or any real progress. We have to find ways to cross the political divide and learn from one another. If we do and we are honest and genuine about it, we might learn things, adjust our way of thinking, or encourage other people to do the same.

Being divided and fighting amongst ourselves isn’t going to change the Philippines. If anything, it’s just going to make it worse. We are facing one of the biggest challenges ever right now and we need to work together to overcome it. So let’s stop assuming we all know better than each other and try to learn from each other and work together.

We have been doing things the same way for so many years and it hasn’t paid off in the past. For once, maybe we can try to do things differently. Reach out to others, share your thoughts and opinions politely, study each candidate’s concrete and achievable plan moving forward, don’t be swayed by easy words and empty promises, and be open-minded enough to listen to opinions that may not match yours.

If we commit to taking it one step at a time together, we may finally have a result that will benefit us all next May.

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