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Elections are over; now we must unite behind our new leaders

The nation has voted. After months of a heated campaign that threatened to divide families, organizations, and communities, the people went to the polls yesterday and wrote down their choices for president and other officials.

Now we wait for the results which, because of our automated system of elections, should be known in two to three days.

It is at this time that we most feel the need for unity in our land. Filipino voters are known to be passionate about their politics and these national and local elections have been specially divisive. With five presidential candidates and six vice-presidential candidates, any election is bound to have its share of dissension and discord.

The rise of a candidate seen as a threat to the political establishment has added to fears of post-election dissension.

Whoever eventually emerges as the winner, the country must close ranks behind the new leader. And we must do it now.

The results are already known in over 92,000 voting precincts all over the country, and transmission of precinct results is underway to town and city halls, on to Congress which is the national canvassing center. Even before the official announcement of winners, we would welcome a affirmation of unity from all the candidates and their leaders and supporters, a declaration of support for whoever emerge as election winners.

The whole world is watching us in this election. There have been worries about the new policies of the next Philippine administration, as reflected in the steady fall of the Philippine peso in the Singapore market. Analysts said the currency could rebound once the new president clears policy and other uncertainties. A show of unity among the people, and especially among the candidates and their camps, would help ease any such uncertainties.

But even without the rest of the world closely watching us and our elections, we must now take the big step towards unity after the loud disagreements and attacks and counter-attacks during the campaign. The elections – this most important affirmation of the people’s rights in a democracy – are over. Now we must set aside our differences and focus on our common goal of progress for our nation, behind our new president, vice president, and all the other officials to whom we have given our mandate to govern us in the next three to six years.