Extending the Right to Vote

5:40 pm PHT

We all know that voting is a right and not a privilege. In a democratic society, we, the people, have a say on how the country should be run. And so we elect people into public positions who we believe are capable of running their jurisdictions the way we want it.

One problem I see regarding our electoral system is that the positions we vote for in the local elections (not the national elections) are too restrictive. We only vote for local officials in the areas where we reside. But in places in and around urban areas, it’s a fact that many, if not the majority, of people that work in the urban offices do not live where their jobs are. Given that we spend about half of our waking time in the places where we work (or study), shouldn’t we also have a say about who sits in public positions where our jobs are?

This problem is particularly evident in Metro Manila. Many residents of adjacent provinces like Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna commute every working day to and from offices and establishments in Makati, Ortigas, Alabang, and other business districts. Even if you live within Metro Manila, it’s also likely that the municipality or city where you work is not the same one you go home to.

For example, I live in Las Piñas City. I therefore have the right to elect its mayor, representative, city councilors and the like. But I work in Quezon City. My company pays local taxes to QC, and the company’s employees have to abide by Quezon City ordinances. Heck, in order to facilitate the filing of my income tax (BIR Form 2316), I have the convenient option of filing my community tax certificate (aka cedula) with the Quezon City treasurer’s office. Since Quezon City benefits from my working there, shouldn’t I have the right to help decide if Mayor Belmonte would be re-elected? Can’t I vote for Danton Remoto for congressman since my office is in the third district of QC?

Granted, our electoral system is in such a primitive state that adding such complexity is not feasible if not impractical. But in the future, there should be a way for us to decide who gets elected in all public offices that affect our lives. That’s democratic, and it should be our right, don’t you agree?

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On 2:22 a.m., 18 May 2007, urbano de la cruz wrote:

Maybe we need a regional government for the metropolis? If you had to elect a governor for Metro Manila, will that encourage a conversation on the need for regional planning?

This is not unique to Metro Manila or the Philippines, by the way. Other municipalities in other countries have to contend with the freerider issue (i.e. -partaking of a public good, like a park, without paying the local taxes that fund it), or the taxation without representation issue (i.e. -getting taxed in the district you work in but not enjoying the public services paid for by those taxes.)

There are lots of innovations in the field -but so far, no simple solutions.

These are parts of the tragedy of the commons -the way we share the public goods and the public bads.


On 2:05 a.m., 19 May 2007, seav wrote:

Well, right now, most electoral systems tend to focus on simplicity and “ease of use” and so fine-grained representation is not practical. But in the future, when IT is ubiquitous, maybe such a thing will be practical. Like the automatic allocation of the proportion of my voting power to the positions that affect my life (e.g., 50% of my voting power goes into electing LP officials while 40% goes to QC, and the remaining goes to the other Metro Manila positions). Advanced computing solutions should make this quite possible and painless.

Regarding Metro Manila, I would really want the whole metropolis to be considered as a province-level entity complete with a governor, a vice-governor, and a provincial board. The provincial government would subsume the powers of the MMDA and minimize the impasse that often occurs between Bayani Fernando and mayors like Binay. (But even if we have the Province of Metropolitan Manila, people who live in adjacent provinces, but work in the Metro, will still be disenfranchised.)

This is all wishful thinking lang naman.


On 1:51 a.m., 28 May 2007, max wrote:

my take on this is.

we need to reexamine the minimum requirements of the candidates. the higher the position the stricter it should be. how can start professionalizing govt services when right from the start, the way we choose who runs it, is already flawed.

we need to reexamine the minimum requirements of the electorate. not just by age. but by their contribution to the govt and society. a person having not paid his/her taxes should be able to vote. why would let us say 80% of the people who dont contribute to the government decide who runs in it?

people with heinous criminal records should not be making decisions as to who sits in the government.


On 1:53 a.m., 28 May 2007, max wrote:

lastly .. there should be a stricter implemntation of our constition. example—separation of church and state. my interpretation of this is. people which belong to the church authorities like priests should be able to run for office.


On 1:54 a.m., 28 May 2007, max wrote:

sorry .. i need to correct what i posted above. i meant to say the following.

- person who does not pay his/her taxes should NOT be able to vote.

- priests should NOT be able to run for office.

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