Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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My presidential candidate

Poverty

May 2010 is historical in many respects. The country will, for the first time, experience automated elections—assuming, of course, that the polls don't get cancelled in the next few months. On a more personal note, it's also my first time to vote. Like most people my age, I'm filled with a sense of urgency to know as much about the candidates as I could, their platforms first before their personalities.

So much is at stake. Times are tough, and they get tougher by the minute. Now, more than ever, this country needs good leaders, people with integrity, honesty, sense of duty, and love for the Filipino. We need people who are both competent and charismatic, idealistic but never out-of-touch with reality, tactical but not scheming.

Even before the filing of candidacy, we've already seen promotional videos of presidential wannabes. These ads feature smiling faces that seem to carry a message of hope to the despairing people, appealing primarily to the emotions rather than the intellect. A shame, really, because the person who looks and sounds the best in television isn't always the one cut out to make the toughest decisions for this nation.

Which is why I welcome television networks that feature presidential debates, avenues where the electorate can hear the candidates speak their minds. A win-win situation, if you ask me, both for the candidates and the voting public. If the candidate deserves a vote, it will naturally emanate from him—and the people will know. I don't like the idea of having someone speak for you. If you're a candidate and you can't voice out your opinion, you seriously need to think about quitting. There has got to be a way to institutionalize these debates by law. Require everyone to attend; disqualify those who can't.

I'm curious now to find out what our presidential aspirants think of certain issues. Questions about the Reproductive Health Bill have already been thrown at them, and I'm thrilled to know that more and more people are forming their choices based on the candidates' answers to these critical issues. But there are other pressing concerns.

I'd like to know more about their stand on health in general. I admit that my curiosity stems from my being a medical student, but I don't see any reason why an ordinary person wouldn't care about this issue which practically concerns everyone. I'm voting for someone who has concrete, achievable goals in promoting health. I'm voting for someone who believes that health is a right, not a privilege. I'm voting for someone who is committed to the Alma Ata Declaration of Universal Primary Health Care which advocates health for all. I'm voting for someone who is determined to allocate a higher health budget.

There are other issues we can't overlook, like corruption and abuse of power. But that deserves a separate entry altogether.

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