By Joy Aceron TODAY, I will attend a funeral of a youth leader who worked concretely for reforms in the 2004 elections by campaigning for a presidential candidate who he thought embodied the hope for a new Philippines. I saw Malvin Ordeniza (1980-2009) worked earnestly in the 2004 campaigns because he believed that without reforms in 2004, he and the rest of his fellow youth would be a lost generation. Five years ago, he saw for himself how a flawed system of elections that is personality- and patronage-based ruled by money and violence robbed him of his future. Five years after, the governance the resulted from that flawed elections took away his life when he was not given his needed medical attention because he did not have the money to pay for it. Reforms in 2010 are not ideas that are up there. Change that needs to happen in 2010 is not an abstract concept. It’s real. It costs and will cost lives of people. We must make change happen in 2010 or the likes of Malvin who believed in change and worked hard for what he believed in will perish; and our country will not only lose another generation, it will lose hope. The Citizen Reform Agenda 2010 In the Philippines, we probably have the broadest, most dynamic and innovative reform work in the world; yet it is also probably the most ineffective in bringing about structural change, particularly these recent years. It is unfair to say that the reform movements are at fault. They are doing all they could but the prevailing political order, the patronage-based politics, is just too deep-seated in society. To have a chance of making a dent, the reform movements need to be a formidable force and they can only do so if they recognize their common interest and common agenda; and work together to transform politics. This is a formidable task and it requires a lot from us. The Citizen Reform Agenda 2010 is our humble contribution to this cause. There is no way that this space alone can transform the reform movements into a formidable force, but it is a key process in making that happen. The agent, the person, the one who will be the leader, is critical, especially for us Filipinos. But the reform agenda we want, the issues we find most critical, that's the soul of our struggle. That's what will endure. Hence, efforts like this must be undertaken, though it is hard and tedious. This is a space and a process for bringing together the reform groups and linking their advocacies to a key political process, the elections in 2010. It also serves as a mechanism to fill up the gap of underperforming political parties that are supposed to be doing the interest-aggregation and agenda formulation. It also aims to promote issue-based and platform-oriented elections in 2010. First, we had to look back to the past and know the previous reform agenda and issues. Second, we had series of consultations and consensus-building inviting the broadest possible representation of the reform movements in the Philippines. We had the process of review and finalization of key agenda and issues involving the participating citizen organizations. Finally, we presented the reform agenda and issues of the citizens to the public. The next phase for CReforms 2010 is to engage the candidates and political parties; as well as the public. But to effectively do this, we must also engage a critical player that mediates the message and the messenger, the media. The ASoG has partnered with the biggest networks in the country to aid in the dissemination of the citizen reform agenda and issues and in promoting issue-based politics in 2010. The CReforms 2010 was able to engage about a hundred citizen organizations. They are from different persuasions ideologically, politically and even meta-physically. They are working on different development themes of CReforms 2010. There were some of these groups who would never attend the same event, but they were able to get pass that. These are reform-oriented and progressive groups with different background and varying perspectives. The outputs of this process are the key reform agenda and issues on Anti-Corruption, Political and Electoral Reform, Environment and Sustainable Development, Local Governance and Human Development (Education, Employment, Housing and Health). These development areas do not at all encompass the entire development or reform areas; but we selected these for a simple and practical reason that the School and our key partners have solid work and expertise in these areas. Furthermore, other groups are very active consolidating the agenda on other areas like poverty reduction, economic development and peace. These key reform agenda and issues identified during the consultation and consensus-building process are developed into Agenda Papers, which the participating groups and organizations would hopefully use in engaging the platform-development of candidates and political parties. Finally, a covenant for reforms entitled “We Will Make Change Happen in 2010” on an audio-visual presentation (available through YouTube) is prepared to be an instrument for CReforms 2010 to engage the candidates and political parties in the 2010 elections by soliciting their commitment to the covenant and response to the key agenda and issues in the CReforms 2010 Agenda Papers. Key Reform Agenda and Issues The agenda on anti-corruption calls for the promotion of a culture of transparency and openness in government by providing the public access to information and avenues to participate in governance. It also calls on the professionalization of the bureaucracy, the strengthening of the autonomy and accountability of local government units and the reforms in the justice system. The agenda on political and electoral reform include the implementation of the constitutional provision banning political dynasties, the strengthening of the political party system and the reform of the Sanggunian Kabataan (SK) as vehicle for youth participation in democratic governance. It also includes the call to consider Constitutional reforms such as federalism to expand local initiatives, shift to a parliamentary system to broaden people’s participation in legislation and governance and limiting the role of COMELEC to election administration by defining a separate system to handle election protests. Key reform agenda on local governance that would ensure substantive decentralization include four main points: (1) More devolution and autonomy from the national government through a policy review on the Local Government Code of 1991; (2) Installation of a more equitable system of local finance management that effectively equips local governments of resources for their service-delivery and administrative needs; (3) Substantive constitutional reform that explores federalism as a viable political framework in empowering local government units and decentralizing political power; and, (4) Strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms for local government units that equal the power that is devolved to them. The agenda on human development calls for a development of a strong domestic economy that respects labor rights; the installation of quality and accessible education; public access to healthcare services; and the improvement of housing program implementation with emphasis on the respect for human rights. Lastly, the agenda on environment and sustainable development calls for the adoption of Philippine Agenda 21 as an alternative sustainable development framework; structural reforms on environmental laws and implementing government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; a sustainable ecological management that will enable the restoration of forests and biodiversity; and the development of a comprehensive plan to address the impact of climate change. We call on the public to engage the candidates on these issues and the others they find most critical. Let us “reclaim our future by making the 2010 elections center on issues and platforms, not personalities; on principles, not money politics; on reforms, not patronage.” Most importantly, let us all work for reforms in 2010 because it means saving lives and giving hope a chance once more. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Joy Aceron is Instructor at the Political Science Department of the Ateneo de Manila University and concurrently the Associate Director of Center for Social Policy of the Ateneo School of Government heading Government Watch and Political Democracy and Reforms (PODER).
September 2009 Archives
By Harvey S. Keh The past three weeks we have all been witness to the rebirth of hope and change in our country brought about by the recent declaration of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s that he will indeed continue the fight left behind by his parents and make a run for the Presidency this coming 2010 elections. The reaction of the Filipino people to Aquino’s candidacy has been nothing short of overwhelming as evidenced by the banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer today which states that according to an SWS Survey conducted in the vote-rich areas of Luzon, 50% of Filipinos would vote for Aquino while the former top-notcher Senator Manny Villar is a far distant second at only 14%. This momentum for unity, reform and change has also been fueled no doubt by the personal sacrifices made by Senator Mar Roxas, Governor Eddie Panlilio, Governor Grace Padaca and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. Roxas, Panlilio and Padaca all said that they will no longer pursue their bids for the highest position in the land while Pangilinan has clearly stated that he will also forego his bid for the Vice-Presidency to support an Aquino-Roxas ticket. So what is next for these four selfless public servants? As we all know, Aquino has categorically said that he wants Roxas to be his running mate in the 2010 elections which I think is a very good decision given the deep relationship and trust that these two gentlemen have for each other. Let us remember that the position of Vice-President is very important given that s/he will just be a heartbeat away from being our next President. Thus, it is imperative that Aquino choose someone whom he believes can become a good leader for our country. Roxas also comes from the vote-rich Western Visayas region which will definitely help Aquino who in turn comes as well from another vote-rich region, Central Luzon. Panlilio is still deciding whether to continue to pursue politics or go back to the priesthood. His main focus right now is to ensure that the on-going recount filed against him by his opponents will not prosper thus, his group Kapampangan Kontra sa Recount together with Kaya Natin and Kilos Na are currently asking for support from friends and supporters towards raising funds to pay the revisors at COMELEC and continue to protect the integrity of the result of the last 2007 elections. If Panlilio decides to pursue politics, he has told us that he is eyeing a Senate run under the Aquino ticket or another run for Governor against current Vice-Governor Yeng Guiao and Senator Lito Lapid. For Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, who, aside from being a co-founder of Kaya Natin, is also a stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP), she is currently being eyed by LP to be one of their Senatoriables together with former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Rep. Ruffy Biazon and former Rep. Neric Acosta. The dilemma that Padaca is currently faced with is that she can still run for one more term as Governor and the clamor for her to stay in the province continues to grow. In our last conversation, Padaca remains open to running for the Senate but said that she will continue to consult her supporters before she makes a final decision on her plans for 2010. Padaca together with former Senate President Jovito Salonga and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo are all LP leaders who were awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service (acknowledged as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia). For his part, Pangilinan is currently active in helping push the Presidential bid of Aquino. He together with Panlilio, Sonia Roco, Jim Paredes and Bam Aquino are the initial convenors of the movement, Pilipinas para kay Noynoy (PINOY) which brings together multi-sectoral reform organizations towards supporting the Presidential run of Aquino. Assuming that an Aquino-Roxas team-up will materialize, Pangilinan is also rumored to be a possible candidate for Mayor of Quezon City where he once served as a City Councilor. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org ____________________________________________________________ Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government.
By Harvey S. Keh LAST week, we were all caught by surprise by the sudden announcement of Senator Mar Roxas that he was withdrawing from the 2010 Presidential Elections to give way to the candidacy of his party-mate and good friend, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Senator Aquino is now being asked my many groups to take the cudgels for genuine change and reform that have been left behind by his parents, former Senator Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino. I greatly admire Senator Roxas for this act of true statesmanship and this also further bolstered my belief that there are still many good people in Philippine politics. Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, a fellow stalwart of the Liberal Party also announced that he is willing to forego his bid for the Vice-Presidency if and when Senator Aquino decides to choose Senator Roxas as his running mate. Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca followed Senator Roxas’ self-sacrifice by also announcing their withdrawal from the Presidential and Vice-Presidential race to also support the bid of Senator Aquino. Through these acts of sacrifice, I am very confident that it will only be a matter of time when all the reform groups will converge towards supporting Senator Aquino and a common slate that would represent the change that every Filipino has been longing for. Yet, as I read a major newspaper (not the Philippine Daily Inquirer) last Sunday, I was disappointed by an article written by a regular columnist who said that it was good for Panlilio to back out from the race since he didn’t have the money to run a national campaign which he mentions as having at least 1 billion pesos. This kind of thinking is what has led the country to where it is now. Moral, upright and good leaders opt not to run during our elections because many people tell them that if you don’t have money you will not win. This is also the reason why more often then not Filipinos are left with no other choice but to always choose between the lesser evil since those who have the genuine desire to be of service do not anymore run for office since they do not have enough financial resources. Moreover, this kind of thinking has led to patronage politics and politics as a business wherein the politicians would “invest” millions or even billions to win an election then they would “reap” the fruits of their investments by siphoning off public funds that should be used to provide basic services to the Filipino people. Worse, they will also have no choice but to grant political favors to benefit the people who donated millions in their campaign. If we will all accept this columnist’s way of thinking then I will be the first one to tell all of you that Senator Noynoy Aquino will not win in the 2010 elections. His current net worth is less than 15 million pesos as compared to Senator Manny Villar’s billions of pesos. However, like many of you, I refuse to buy this columnist’s argument of having billions of pesos in order to win in the 2010 Presidential elections, Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio won in Pampanga against his well-funded and politically-entrenched opponents despite only having an initial fund of P 1,000. Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca also won not only once but twice despite her opponents spending millions of pesos against her. Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija won despite not having any posters or tarpaulins during her campaign. If we want to elect a reform President like Senator Noynoy Aquino that will not be beholden to the self-interests of the ruling oligarchs, business groups and traditional politicians, this President must be elected through the support of ordinary Filipinos like you and me. Like the Aquino family who has given already so much of themselves for our nation, every Filipino will also need to make our own small sacrifices such as chipping in our own small share of funds to help in his campaign, volunteering our time and talents and going out of our way to convince our friends to support Senator Aquino. This is our chance to prove once again to the whole world that the Philippines can lead the way in showing that the power of a true democracy lies in the hands of the people and not in the hands of a few. Comments are welcome at email@example.com _____________________________________________________________ Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government.