THE POWER OF ONE MILLION VOTERS IN THE CORDILLERA
The Cordillera region has now 1,077,900 voters, as confirmed by the Commission on Elections. It took seven decades after the post-war era for this northern region to surpass over a million mark.
It signals hope that the region can now be in a better position to advance its interests towards peace and development through the May 2022 local and national elections.
Having less than a million voters was one of the reasons why the region was always given less priority by the national government in terms of fund allocations, including those in the halls of power in Malacañang and Senate, as they tend to allocate more resources to vote-rich provinces to court voters.
But even while having achieved the feat of having over a million voters, the Cordillera still remains at the bottom in terms of ranking of number of voters among 18 regions in the country. It falls next to Caraga at 16th place with 1.8 million voters with exemption of Negros Island as the newest region in the country which was declared in May 2015.
The National Capital Region and Central Luzon remain at the top two spots with 7.3 million and 7.2 million voters, respectively, followed by Central and Western Visayas with more than five million voters each.
Benguet, which is the most populated province in the Cordillera, ranks 40th with 243,756 voters among the 81 provinces while Baguio City ranks 39th with 168,218 voters among 146 cities in the country.
Notwithstanding the numbers, Cordillerans are among the supposed intelligent voters, reason why at least three presidential and vice presidential bets and a number of senatorial candidates have set foot in the region before and during the campaign period to court voters in the highlands.
Some candidates for national elective positions have even made public statements on regional concerns, such as the unabated vegetable smuggling and the long-time quest for regional autonomy, among other issues that hamper economic growth up north.
And with the campaign period for local candidates from congressmen, governors, mayors down to councilors just around the corner, it is our hope that the younger voters will take an active role in this electoral process, as in their hands lie the future of this region and the country in general.
We hope too that younger and older voters alike would be well discerning in choosing their leaders and not to be greatly influenced by misinformation and disinformation that widely proliferate across social media platforms such as Facebook where most people rely for news and information.
In general, we hope that Filipino voters will be wise in their choices of who among political aspirants are most deserving of their votes. These are the leaders who are tested and with good track records and with the capability of executing their platforms of governance based on the positions they are aspiring for.
Back home, Cordilleran voters will remain to have the respect of national and local leaders for their reputation of wisely choosing leaders who are visionaries, credible, competent, committed to the public good, compassionate, and can take accountability for all their actions.
More importantly, Cordilleran voters, regardless of their number, will ensure a well-preserved democracy that benefits the many during elections.