I’m not surprised that supporters of Liberal Party candidates Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo would be quick to feel “vindicated” by the position taken by my colleague Virtual Vigilante (VV) in his article The Choice is Clear: Mar and Leni for 2016. Months of desperately grasping at straws to find an absolute reason to vote for those two really would do one’s head in.
But then what is so “vindicating” about VV’s article? All he says is that Mar and Leni become appealing because they are backdropped by a bunch of morons also are competing for that lucrative seat in Malacanang…
If the alternatives were simply mediocre in comparison to Mar, then I wouldn’t lose sleep over the 2016 presidential elections. The problem is, the alternatives to Mar are downright disastrous and catastrophic (i.e., Duterte and Binay).
That just means the fantasy of Mar and Leni winning this election very much resonates with the Loser mentality Filipinos apply to any contest they find themselves in — winning because the competition sucks. Indeed, that is a space where Pinoys have become quite comfy — competing on a rigged field where victory is assured.
Now the really sad thing about Mar and Leni is that, all this sad competition notwithstanding, they still are at the bottom of the polls. That just goes to show Filipino voters would still choose vigilantes, thieves, and on-the-job-trainee presidents over “Ivy League” Mar and SOB-story Leni.
There is merit in the idea that a relatively “stellar” candidate should be voted, presumably applying the all-too-familiar “lesser” evil doctrine of choosing Philippine leaders in cases where all the rest suck. I emphasise “relatively” because this is a key word to qualify such a position. It is not an absolute choice. It is a choice by default.
I’d disagree with this approach to choosing the next president if there was an alternative — e.g., a viable “none-of-the-above” vote that, if that option attracts the majority vote, invalidates the presidential election and, as a result, forces the state to declare the election ‘failed’ and invoke some kind of succession procedure to install an interim government (perhaps to be headed by the next elected official in line — the Senate President, say). Sadly there is no such provision in the current system and, as such, we are forced to select that lesser evil.
In VV’s case, it is Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo he’d vote for. Fair enough. I respect that. If we don’t choose someone, then the other monster wins. Such an astoundingly intractable position Filipinos have created for themselves — a system that holds them hostage to the products of their own national-scale dysfunction and mediocrity. Perhaps that is justice in the sense that we sow what we reap as a people. The crop of presidential candidates for 2016 are Filipinos’ punishment for being such a clueless lot!
The only real alternative for one whose stomach turns at the thought of having to choose one amongst a sorry crop of presidentiables is to not vote at all. But is not voting the same as voting “None of the above” if, for argument’s sake, that option is available in the ballot? Not likely. A “None of the above” vote, if it was available, represents a categorical rejection of all candidates. It is an explicit choice. Not voting, however, does not express an explicit electoral choice. In effect, if everyone who does not like any candidate opts not to vote, the resulting low voter turn out only serves to degrade the election.
Providing a “None of the above” option in the presidential ballot in combination with measures put in place to provide for succession in the event this option “wins” an election is a long-overdue solution. Positions next in line to the presidency — the Senate President, and then the House Speaker — are both elected officials and, as such, are viable alternatives. It is high time Filipinos be freed from the prison of having to choose the “lesser evil” every election time.