Like other Thomasian students my age, it’s my first time to vote in this year’s mid-term elections. Coalitions such as President Aquno’s Team Pnoy; the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Joseph Estrada, Jejomar Binay, and Juan Ponce Enrile; the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan; Ang Kapatiran; and Bangon Pilipinas will slug it out for 12 senatorial seats.

“Who should I vote for?” is a difficult question to answer. It will be much easier to answer: “Who should I NOT vote for?”

Political dynasties have been ruling the country for decades, though their very existence defies the democratic nature of the republic. Politics, unfortunately, has become a family business, with power concentrated in a few people.

It would be unfortunate to have the likes of Bam Aquino, Alan Peter Cayetano, Juan Edgardo Angara, Jamby Madrigal, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Tingting Cojuangco, Jack Enrile, JV Ejercito and Richard Gordon (yes including him, being the son of former Olongapo Mayor James Gordon) as lawmakers when they themselves defy the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article II Section 26), which states: “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who owes her popularity to her late father Fernando Poe, Jr., is no different from these politicians who stand proud on the accomplishments of their parents or relatives in public office.

Defying the law is routine to our politicians. Former president Joseph Estrada, a convicted plunderer pardoned by the previous administration, was able to run in the 2010 presidential election. Panfilo Lacson, who fled the country after being tagged as the mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito double murder, walks proudly in the halls of the Senate. It would be ridiculous to re-elect Antonio Trillanes IV, the first Philippine senator to be elected while in jail for plotting coups, especially when he had “secret” meetings with Chinese officials on the Scarborough Shoal issue.

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The need for Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel in the Senate seems to be unclear since members of her party-list group Akbayan, which is supposed to represent under-represented sectors of society, have been occupying top executive positions in the Aquino administration.

Given the quality of the candidates, it would be hard to pick 12 names on the ballot.

Voters should at least consider what the candidates stand for. Senatorial candidates Mitos Magsaysay of UNA and Lito David, JC Delos Reyes and Mars Llasos of the Kapatiran Party have been consistent with their pro-life stance. But they are lagging in the surveys.

As what Orson Welles once said, “Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and the Muppets should be in the senate.”

In this fast-paced era in which background information and news stories on politicians can easily be obtained from the Internet, it should be easier to make a decision. People should start choosing candidates based on personal credentials, beliefs and performance.

Let’s stop voting for ex-convicts, murder suspects and oligarchs. Politicians are our employees. We shouldn’t hire someone with a bad record to make laws that will affect our lives.

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