Friday, February 29, 2008

Important Issues on Philippines 2010 Election

Ive been tagged by Reflective Thinking's Janette Toral in a project of hers that seeks to collate bloggers' opinions on important issues on the next Philippine elections in 2010. There are lots of issues that the next presidential candidate needs to address, and perhaps Ms. Toral, after completing her project can get the candidates to present their answers in their own blogs. Off the top of my head, there's the problem of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, the effects of free trade on our farmers (cheap imports of vegetables from China has had a detrimental effect on them for instance), the issue of the Philippine military being deployed against Philippine citizens, the pegging of our economy to the dollar, and the list goes on. But the one issue I would like the candidates to tackle and give a clear, comprehensive, and detailed response is the issue of electoral reform.

Elections are at the heart of our representative democracy and yet we can't seem to get it right. We seem to always be electing representatives who don't represent. The problem it seems to me is that the playing field is not level. The law does not discriminate against who may run as long as they fulfill certain criteria, and it is a very permissive criteria. To run for president for instance you do not need a college degree. You just have to be a natural born citizen of a certain age with no criminal convictions. It doesnt care if youre rich or poor, man or woman, a mechanic or a PhD in physics, and that's fine. However in practice, this is not the case. The Comelec for instance could determine your fitness to run, and again that's fine, assuming a fair Comelec. But the most important criteria is financial resources. You may be the most brilliant person in the country but if you dont have the financial resources to mount a campaign, Comelec could disqualify you. This is grossly unfair. Some candidates even make pacts with unsavory characters who are willing to finance their campaign knowing that these same characters will collect on the favor in the future when they get elected. (During the 1992 presidential campaign that FVR won, a former cabinet assistant secretary working in the campaign of the late speaker Ramon Mitra told this story to me of a jueteng lord who wanted an appointment with the speaker and he told him about it. The speaker refused to speak to the man. The undersecretary said Mitra told him that he didnt want the man collecting on the favor later. Im sure other candidates took the man on his offer.)

The reforms I'd like to see is the elimination of money as a criteria. I have ideas on how this could be done and still allow the candidates to wage a nationwide campaign, but I'd rather hear the candidates' views on how they would implement electoral reform.

That's on the candidates' side. On the voters' side, I once blogged about a thought experiment I had on the right to suffrage, but that would be too radical. Sacrilegious even. It's here. Be sure to check the comments section since cvj of Placeholder had some valid objections to the thought experiment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Regaining a soul

I couldve sworn I had the digicam in my bag. I get to the office and looked in the bag to check if the battery needed charging and all that, and what do you know, I left it in another bag. Luckily I had the XA2 film camera in the office and it had film in it, so I went and brought that. Four o' clock came and I made my way to Ayala. It was a cloudy afternoon and I was a bit apprehensive that I won't have enough light since the camera was loaded with slower film (ASA 100), and it didnt have a flash, but what are you going to do? I had at most an hour and a half til light fades and my camera becomes useless.

I was able to make my way through the crowds and ended up right at the stage amidst the news reporters and photographers. I was right beside Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes who was coordinating things from the ground as well as giving interviews. I saw Bibeth Orteza, Ricky Recto, Satur Ocampo, and I realized, holy crap, this was the front-row, VIP seat. I looked around and seated behind me was a veritable who's who: Former VP Teofisto Guingona, Ernesto Maceda, Josie Lichauco, and various Makati mestizo types from the business elite.

Bibeth Orteza emceed the second segment of the program

The feisty former DOTC secretary Josie Lichauco

Satur Ocampo

Former VP Tito Guingona with former senator Ernie Maceda

Mayor Jojo Binay

Every sector was represented: the religious, the EDSA 2 people, the EDSA 3 people, the left, the soldiers, students. It was a coming together. The closest thing to a politician who took the stage was UNO's spokesman Adel Tamano, who greeted the crowd in a traditional Muslim greeting. His message was one of unity in the face of the administration's efforts to divide us. Indeed, differences were forgotten that day as all came together to call for Mrs. Arroyo's resignation.

Hello, Garci? Wrong number, pare.

Speaker from the United Church of Christ of the Philippines,
victims of extra-judicial killings

'Running priest' Robert Reyes, who's not about to run from anybody it seems

National artist Prof. Bienvenido Lumbrera gives the Arroyo administration
a failing grade

Jessica Zafra's pals. They thought some of the crowd was hakot and proceeded
to retire to a nearby Starbucks.

When the Wuds took the stage and rocked the joint, even Satur Ocampo got up to dance, together with the other leaders. It had that EDSA I feel to it; a protest rally with the air of a fiesta. I was beside some old ladies when Brownman Revival took the stage and one little old lady was sufficiently impressed and asked me who they were. When The Jerks took the stage, it was all the crowd could do to contain themselves.

The Wuds prepare to rock the house

And Ricky Recto gets jiggy with it.

By the time Joey De Venecia took the stage, it was dark, and Ive run out of film. You could tell he wasnt used to speaking in front of a crowd, but he had them and they were cheering their support. Chants of "Joey, Joey". One can't help thinking that this man, a former substance abuser who loved to party (an aunt of mine remembered him smoking a joint in one of the parties she attended, and he was just 17 at the time), has finally come of age. He's no saint, sure. Neither is Lozada. But like Lozada, he probably took stock of the state of his soul, his self-respect, and decided to save what's left of it, defying his father's wish that he just shut up. I looked out at the crowd, the urban poor were there cheering beside the Makati elite, and knew we could win. I felt a vibe, an energy there that was missing in rallies before. This one had a moral force. The middle class was well represented, and it does seem that they found their soul again. The students found their compass. The masa who once felt betrayed by the middle class, joined them for this fight. Jun Lozada has given them an example and theyre inspired. It also had a triumphant air about it.

I couldnt help thinking that we could win this 'war' but winning the peace would be harder.

Sobra na, tama na, kumilos na, 'tang %$#!!

Addendum 18 Feb 08 11:44. Mea culpa, I forgot this bit, which was quite moving really. (No excuses, I suck.) A man came to the foot of the stage beside me and handed emcee Bibeth Orteza a plastic bottle full of coins. Bibeth said the man was a jeepney driver and he took up a collection for Jun Lozada. It was his bit to help Jun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's time

Photo from the Presidential Close-In Photographer's Office

In smoke, I wrote this comment:
I am still holding out hope that there is still a semblance of a soul within Gloria Arroyo, and that she still believes in a higher power to whom she will one day give account, and so I still have hope that she will do the right thing and resign.
I truly believe that.

It's time, Mrs. Arroyo. You still have this out. Resign.

(Rom's blog Smoke has been added to the links section on the right.)
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