25 January 2016, 8:15 pm FORMER Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rene
Sarmiento urged Filipino voters in a UST forum to elect candidates with
integrity and competence, taking into account Pope Francis’ message of “mercy
and compassion.”

Quoting Thomasian and former President Jose Laurel, he said
“[an election] is a complex process of determining the people’s will, and
the opportunity to pass judgment given to the people,” in the annual
Benavides Lecture on Monday.

Sarmiento, who served as Comelec commissioner
from 2006 to 2013, said voters should go beyond looking at the platforms of
candidates on poverty, employment, good governance, climate change, peace and
order, peace talks, national security, economy, and health.

According to him,
UST is “the ballot vox populi,” having produced four Philippine
presidents, namely Jose P. Laurel, Sergio Osmena, Manuel L. Quezon and Diosdado
P. Macapagal.

Ricarte Origenes, a political science professor and moderator of
UST National Service Training Program, noted that health sector issues are
linked to poverty, which remains a major problem.

Junior medicine student and
UST Central Comelec Vice Chairman Raymond John Naguit said “nurses are
important catalysts for change and we should choose a president with solid
platforms to improve our health system.”

In 2013, only 4.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product was allotted
to health sector, lower than the 5.5 percent recommendation of the World Health
Organization, he noted.

For senior nursing student Clarisse Jamiel Geronimo, health should not be the
least priority of a presidential candidate.

“[Voting] is just like answering our
exams, all choices may be promising and right, but we choose which one is the
best,” she said.J. P. P. Corpuz


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