As the Philippines gets ready for another presidential election in 2016, the usual sets of controversies and issues envelop the country once again. This has raised questions for Filipinos around the world, overseas Filipino workers in particular, whether they still plan on using their right to vote, or if they now see it as a waste of time.
The Main Contenders
Let’s take a look at the main players.
Vice President Jejomar Binay is one of the most controversial of the lot, as he continues to campaign for his presidency amidst piling evidence of his family’s corrupt ways. Overpriced government buildings, dummies hiding the real extent of their assets, and the unexplained accumulation of wealth over the years, among others, have cast a shadow over the confident man’s campaign.
However, he continues to brag about how he made Makati rich, a claim criticized and laughed at by those who witnessed how the Ayalas actually put the Makati central business district together. Add to that his hold over the masses, and the Filipinos start to fear that he may actually have a chance.
A former investment banker, Mar Roxas seems to be undaunted by the fact that Binay had beaten him in the last elections they faced each other. He does, after all, have the full support of the current administration. He is also said to be a safe pick, but people continue to question his political will. After all, just because he is the grandson of a former Philippine President does not mean that this US-educated candidate will be able to run an entire country.
Roxas is currently the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, and is known for his sometimes tactless remarks. Just recently for example, he talked about the worsening Metro Manila traffic and how this is actually a clear sign that the Philippines is progressing, a comment that spectators believed is twisted reasoning.
He also openly admitted that he is campaigning as early as now when asked about a recent trip to Cebu, something that he probably knows to be illegal since premature campaigning is not allowed in the country. But then again, his opponents are doing the same thing.
Senator Grace Poe is seen as the strongest contender, and has beaten Binay in several presidential polls. However, issues about her citizenship continue to be a deterrent, and people are also wondering whether she has enough experience to run a country.
An adopted child of the late Fernando Poe, Jr., who also ran for presidency in 2004 but died shortly after being beaten, it was a surprise for many that Grace Poe’s name rose to the top of the charts during the 2013 senatorial elections.
Another name being casted in are that of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has been popularly successful in keeping peace and order in the city he governs despite the fact that it is near some of the most rebel-ridden cities in Mindanao. People believe that his strict discipline is the solution to a lot of the country’s woes. He has yet to confirm if he will actually be running for President however, as he has already declined a number of times, but his supporters continue to campaign for him.
The OFW Vote
Now let’s direct our attention to the weight of the OFW vote. The fact that they brought in a record $26.924B in 2014 in cash and non-cash remittances shows how huge their impact is on the growth of the Philippine economy. This number is a whopping 6.2% increase from 2013, where only $25.352B was remitted.
Seeing that around 1.6 million Filipinos were deployed to different countries last year, with job orders increasing by 10.7% during the start of this year, their sheer force could help any single candidate they support win the elections.
Seeing the recent issues that they have had to face however, there are mixed feelings among these overseas workers whether their vote still counted as anything.
The recent issue on the Bureau of Customs clamping down on smuggling by randomly inspecting the balikbayan boxes they send for example, has caused them all to cry foul. They see this as a way of bullying the OFWs worldwide just so the BOC can cover for their losses.
Does the OFW vote have an impact? Most definitely. But would recent events, plus the question of whether there is anyone worthy to be voted, push them to take advantage of their voting rights?
That would be up to the OFWs to decide. As the 2016 presidential elections draw near, OFWs have also come to realization that to make the most out of their voting power, they should support a single candidate, therefore uniting the intelligent vote and having (hopefully) more weight over the vote of the masses (which for now, is feared to be gearing towards Binay).
So are you willing to vote next year?
Special thanks to Rappler for the main image.