From long-running concerns to ones newly revealed by the pandemic
The onslaught of the novel coronavirus has done a lot to prove what works—and what definitely doesn’t—in public governance. All at once, the pandemic has revealed old cracks in the foundation (that perhaps government officials could previously afford to ignore) and then the lack of foresight. Both faults, in the time of COVID-19, have literally cost lives.
It’s with the weight of these realizations, among others, that voters are heading to the polls in May. For those exercising their right to vote for the very first time, as learned from several first-time voters, the civic duty has never come at a more critical period.
As Jhuniella, a 21-year-old working in Public Relations, shares succinctly: “Healthcare, education, public assistance programs: They are the most crucial given the pandemic situation.” 22-year-old Kenneth, a student who hails from Malabon, echoes the need for community care on top of focusing on the individual. He points out “climate change education, improved open spaces for the public to enjoy and ligtas balik eskuela” as some of the issues overlooked by the administration. Meanwhile, for Peter, a 31-year-old marketing consultant, the pandemic has ripped open a new wound for which band-aid solutions just cannot do. “We have to bring back people’s confidence in living in the true ‘new normal’ life without the fear of another surge,” he says. “At the same time, the government has to provide healthcare for all because this pandemic has not only depleted citizens’ savings but has also given rise to new health concerns. [Then comes the issue on] unemployment: we have to provide jobs to rehabilitate and rebuild households.”
As election day draws near, and as does campaign season, what other issues are key for their fellow first-time voters?
“The Philippine government needs to present more concrete plans. People need assurance about the things that will happen in the future, so they don’t have doubts in their minds about [who they’ve elected].”
“There have been many who lost their jobs, who are having trouble supporting themselves/their families, students who have had to stop their schooling, small businesses closing, etc. Our current government hasn’t done much of anything to help those who have been suffering most for the past two years. As for crisis relief, as a country that’s suffered from typhoons and floods, we’ve seen time and time again how the government can’t seem to do what needs to be done to help those most affected. It’s always been frustrating and heartbreaking to see. I’m hoping this time around, there’s an obvious improvement.”
“On the larger, more important note, people are suffering, and it seems like officials are just not competent in addressing the pandemic at all. We need concrete plans and then proof that they’re being pursued.”
“Our COVID response has been [terrible], and I believe that everyone would be less miserable if it were handled correctly this time around. I also believe that everyone should have equal rights.”
“Public transportation should be better (it’s honestly so bad right now). There should also be more sustainable programs for our farmers. Local government should be able to reach and send help to our indigenous people, especially those from the mountains and far-flung areas.”
Part of the pool of first-time voters or not, sound off in the comments for the issues you hope the next administration will address.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver