POSTSCRIPT / June 25, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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No-show voters, tax evaders top whiners

AMONG the noisiest whiners against bad government and inept/corrupt officials are people who do not even bother to vote or who evade paying the correct taxes.

If only it could be legally and morally justified, those who do not vote in two consecutive national elections should be barred from complaining about crooks and idiots infesting the bureaucracy. To some extent, bad officials get elected when qualified voters do not bother to vote.

We are raising this point in light of information that more than four million voters have not had their biometrics taken or claimed their voter’s ID cards without which they may not be able to vote in the May 2016 national elections.

Of the more than 100 million population, some 62,423,000 Filipinos are of voting age (at least 18 years old). But with just 11 months to the next elections, only around 52,100,500 of the age-eligible voters have registered.

Among those who had started their registration, 4,326,660 are in danger of not being able to vote due to lack of a voter’s ID based on their biometrics.

The Commission on Elections said over the weekend that some 550,340 registered voters still have incomplete biometrics data – many of them probably not being aware of it — and need to repeat the validation process. Voters are advised to check their status.

Another measure we want to suggest, if it is legally and morally feasible, is the banning from government employment of persons who did not vote in the last two national elections. Civil service personnel must set a good example.

It would be interesting to know how many of the estimated 1,350,000 workers in government actually vote. All of them should, out of civic duty and as part of our suggested employment requirement.

This is similar to our other suggestion that nobody must be employed by the Metro Manila Development Authority or any agency as a traffic officer or one assigned to traffic duty unless he is a licensed driver.

• Citizens’ duties stressed in 1973 Constitution

OUR PROPOSAL harks back to Article V (Duties and Obligations of Citizens) in the 1973 Constitution promulgated during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. The unique Article provides among other things:

“SEC. 4. It shall be the obligation of every citizen qualified to vote to register and cast his vote.”

While the citizen has rights, he also has duties. The same Article, which was not carried over to the 1987 Constitution promulgated under President Cory Aquino, also provides:

“SECTION 1. It shall be the duty of the citizen to be loyal to the Republic and to honor the Philippine flag, to defend the State and contribute to its development and welfare, to uphold the Constitution and obey the laws, and to cooperate with the duly constituted authorities in the attainment and preservation of a just and orderly society.

“SEC. 2. The rights of the individual impose upon him the correlative duty to exercise them responsibly and with due regard for the rights of others

“SEC. 3. It shall be the duty of every citizen to engage in gainful work to assure himself and his family a life worthy of human dignity.”

The Marcos Constitution of 1973, btw, carried in Article I an implied assertion that North Borneo (Sabah) is part of Philippine territory. It said in Section 1:

“The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, AND ALL THE OTHER TERRITORIES BELONGING TO THE PHILIPPINES BY HISTORIC RIGHT OR LEGAL TITLE, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and the other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction.” (bold capitalization supplied)

The 1987 Cory Constitution dropped this reference to Sabah in its definition of the national territory, unilaterally weakening the Philippine claim. It simply said:

“The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed.”

President Noynoy Aquino has continued the policy of his mother of not actively pursuing the Sabah claim.

• Plaridel launches ‘Boto Mo Future Ko’ drive

THE SAMAHANG Plaridel has mounted a campaign, “Boto Mo Future Ko”, calling on Filipino voters to always consider the welfare of their children and the coming generation in their decisions on political and national issues.

The group, known as the Association of Philippine Journalists Samahang Plaridel Foundation Inc., hopes to instill in the voters’ mind and heart that their decisions today will affect the fate of future generations.

Samahang Plaridel is engaging in its nationwide information drive selected individuals, non-government organizations, the academe and other public and private entities committed to work for a better tomorrow.

Samahang Plaridel chairman Neal H. Cruz of the Inquirer said: “With this advocacy, we’re hoping to generate a strong consciousness among voters of today to constantly take into account the welfare of the young when deciding on who and what to vote for.”

Manila Standard publisher and Samahang Plaridel president Rolando G. Estabillo said the advocacy is a “non-partisan, non-sectarian effort, the sole intention of which is to act as a catalyst in creating a pro-future mindset among Filipino voters.”

The group managing the campaign is chaired by Lito Gagni of Market Monitor, with these members: Jimmy Gil of DZBB; Ariel Ayala of Radyo Veritas; Twinkle Valdez formerly of ABS-CBN, and Ernesto Y. Tolentino, managing director of Kontra-Partido Productions, who will also serve as project director.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 25, 2015)

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