The Right Vote

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Tomorrow, Election Day, it shall be all over but the final count. To be sure, by this time, you shall have made up your mind, amid the hustle and bustle, the brickbats and badmouthing that flew in all directions, what to do with your right to vote. Who to cast it for is your business, and no persons of authority, political, religious etc., can make you change a mind that has been convinced to favor him/her over the rest.

Political surveys have been telling us that come voting time, there’s still a good 5-10% of voters out there still undecided. Pundits are saying they’re just waiting, for the right price perhaps or for the right frame of mind to go this or that way. Regardless, there should be something else that may need more persuasion, an inner force that can firm up a decision.

As we cast our priceless vote tomorrow, may God the Father show us the way to discernment, from which basis, the right vote can be cast. That way is voting right. Plain, as clear as day. Good for the conscience too.

The right vote, stripped from the sublime, should be guided by what is best for dear ol’ Baguio, a city that has had over a century of growth and development that now seems under threat, at risk of losing the rich natural environment that has served many a generation, has moved countless compatriots, mostly ordinary Filipinos, to dream about all through the years of their uneventful existence.

In this campaign season, there seems to have been a consensus of aspirants to pay serious heed on environment concerns. About time, this sudden outburst of outpouring for something that should have been high up in the pedestal of issues to get our hands on. All through it all, there was uniformed outcry on what has happened in just 2 or 3 decades, which is good anytime environmental questions are raised.

In unison, they’re all saying in words more telling than before, “let’s make Baguio better!” Great, but certainly it would have been better if they told us just in heaven’s name will they do it. Fine, but haven’t we heard that kind of a yell-out way before, long before even national officials could hold their breath over what has gone way past the bedtime of their soiled dreams.

Making Baguio better takes a solid platform of things to do, from the forest cover that has dwindled to countable trees, to the air we breathe at real risk, to the water that we have long wanted to gush from faucets, to the solid and liquid waste that gets out of Baguio at the painful cost of just about P150 million of our annual expenditures.

Making Baguio better, honest to goodness, takes a luminary list of details, a recitation of what, how, who, where, and when — things that ought to go beyond a mere motherhood remark. The devil is usually in the details and here, many of our patriotic aspirants have been tight-lipped, zipped up, perhaps because they’re not just ready to be pinned against the wall come retribution time, or perhaps because, there’s so much at stake, development projects galore, in terms of illicit recompense.

Until one man, one heck of a man, came along, bursting into our political landscape like a streaking star. From him, we heard what must be done, segmenting his must-do listing into the immediate, for short-term, and for long-term. Plant a million trees a year, in our watersheds, in our protected areas, on our mountain tops. Knowing where these are planted lend itself to better caring, better nourishment, better replenishment.

Says he: Government under my watch will take the lead in efforts to intensify environmental protection, preservation, conservation and replenishment of dwindling resources. I will craft and execute long-term solutions that will assuredly provide the most appropriate solid and liquid waste management at the least possible expense. Our goal is simple: clean air, safe potable water, and access to reasonably priced food source, encouraging residents to propagate urban agriculture in their premises.

Adds he: about time we tackle disaster-prone areas head-on through mountain protective walls on vulnerable mountain sides. The Itogon and Natonin disasters can be averted by proactive planning and accidents reduced to manageable levels. As for our legendary trash, he’s batting to identify about 2 hectares of city property in which to house an integrated waste-to-energy, waste-to-compost, income-generating facility. Too much trash talk will get us nowhere near a permanent solution that has eluded us since 2006.

Ends he: caring for our environment begins by prioritizing future needs, where peace and prosperity are shared and purely inclusive, with no one left behind. It’s a delicate balancing act, but decisive in making things work our way, instead of merely coasting along, while our pristine environment remains in hollowed dreams.

That’s why my Mr. Right who deserves my Right Vote is Benjie Magalong. I believe that with him at the helm as Mayor, he will capably lead us to an environmentally protected, nurtured, replenished Baguio. That he’ll do by the exercise of a prudent, listening, but decisive leadership properly wielded to get us all in line.

Time’s up for now, as we let Dear Mr./Ms. Voter do the right thing the right way towards a beckoning future. Up to all of us anyway, you and me and the rest of us.#

P. S. With your permission, please do consider my younger brother, Jonathan A. Vergara, for a seat in the City Council. Young, energetic, a visionary of a civic and business leader, he will certainly be a breathe of fresh air, to quote BBM, in the Sangguniang Panlungsod. Dios ti agngina everyone!

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