Barangay, SK Elections – for Better or Worse

Good politics start at home, at the neighborhood, at our barangay. In the same way, dirty politics at the way we involve in the most important political activity, the Barangay Elections.

The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 25, 2010 defines the direction of our town, city, and provincial politics. The way we involve will either bring us reforms we love to call as good politics or worsen our situation.

Barangay Elections, Non-Partisan?

Supposedly, yes. Barangay election is a non-partisan political exercise. But to find a Barangay in the whole country where there is absence of partisan exercises is very difficult.

Candidates of Barangay and SK Elections ally with town’s political big bosses. Town and city political figures ally with Barangay leaders by financing candidates and ensuring victory.

Why are they doing this? Obviously, one’s political power is gauged based on his local allies. The more a town or city leader gets ally-barangay captains, the more he becomes powerful.

A barangay official who refuses to ally will soon get zero projects. This sounds familiar to all us. These are the sad realities.

Political Alliance at the Grassroots Level

Political alliance aren’t bad after all. However, there is something that we need to watch – what type of political alliance our barangay leaders have with our town and city leaders?

For Better or Worse, here comes again our Election

Here we are again. Since we start to count the days of 2010 until the our elected leaders took oath of office last June 30, we are all get the comforts and headaches of election drama.

Here we are again, seeing the fabulous campaign, the titillating gimmicks and the exciting campaign as joyous-dirty stage play.

Here we are again, trying to reflect whom to vote and why we vote. Will this bring us good in the next few years or will this give us long years of political sickness?

It takes one vote to answer.

Do your candidates pass the LASER test for Election 2010?

As voters, we also need to do our homework. This is the reminder of a very good friend Novell Tagailo. By the way he is the same person who advocates that everyone should go out and vote on May 10, 2010 because we, the voters are  the reason, why there is an election.

So here is one of the most important homework that we should do: LASER Test.

What is LASER Test?

LASER is an acronym for Lifestyle, Action, Supporters, Election Conduct and Reputation. You should vote to candidates who pass the LASER Test. I will tell you why.

Even before the election campaign started, we were already bombarded with tons of information about the candidates. The information are mostly conflicting, confusing, and misleading. I believe you have your own frustration on the way election campaign is run. It is characterized by negative stuff, mudslinging, personality assassination, and full of finger-pointing and accusations.

Let us not allow ourselves to get drowned on negatives; instead, let us light the flame of optimism that through one vote, we can make a difference.

This is the reason why I suggest that we use the LASER test and major basis for electing our country’s next leader. As a little background, LASER test is conceptualized by Dilaab Foundation to help us voters discern the best candidate to vote on May 10, 2010.

The LASER test for election 2010 candidates are part of the campaign called Vote God. As described, Vote God is a faith-impelled advocacy which hopes to infuse the electoral process with Christian values and for the discerning bloc to muster enough moral courage to choose good leaders.

Vote God

I will tell you more about Vote God advocacy on my next post.

The LASER test is best understood in the context of Christian values. When you run the LASER test to your candidates, it is very important that you put God at the center. By doing this, you erase the political color you already put on yourselves.

Ask these questions.

What is my candidate’s lifestyle? What are the actions of my candidates? Who are the supporters of my candidates? Are they the supporters also pass the LASER test? What is the election conduct of my candidates? Does he focus on his plan or put pains to his opponents with his dirty political tactics? Does he follow election laws and guidelines? What is the reputation of my candidates?

Let us pause and reflect. This is about our future.

Let us do our homework. We still have time.

Go out and vote on May 10

In less than 30 days we will go out and vote. Will you vote?

Most of the people I know say yes but many others say maybe and some no. All of them have reasons.

Many of us are sick and tired of the vicious cycle of Philippine politics. We elect new officials because we want change. We want election because we want change; and the people we have just elected are not satisfactory. This will be repeated and seems never ends.

The Philippine elections have always been intense political exercise, journalist Sheila Coronel observes.

As the call for change was highly audible before the start of election 2010 period, many Filipinos expect some changes on the way we conduct our elections. I personally expect that we shall actively discuss on platforms rather than personal issues; that we will tackle more on real social issues rather than the usual mudslinging and personality assassination.

I am dismayed because the 2010 election is still the same as the 2004, and 2007 elections. These are the elections that I have closely observed. Just the same. In fact, this election is worse as more trash are thrown, more dirty tricks than before.

If this is the case, should we stop electing officials? Should we lose our faith to election?

We should not because in our democratic society, it is during election that we are given equal rights. Whether you are rich or poor, schooled or unschooled; you have only one vote.

A very good friend, Novell Tagailo has a striking line. He said:

We are the reason, why there is an election, they, the candidates are not the star. We are the principal characters here. Let’s take this privilege, use this right and exercise our duty.

He is right. The principal characters during elections are the voters. And the power are within the voters.

As voters, let us use this power to start the change that we are dreaming for.

Joey De Venecia III: From whistle-blower to Senator?

Jose “Joey” De Venecia III aimed to win the contract for National Broadband Network (NBN). He lost. Not enough, he was grilled in a national controversy! That changed the life of Joey. From being a private individual to a public figure. He bid and lost in a business contract. Now he is dreaming to become a senator.

Joey De Venecia filed his certificate of candidacy as newest member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of Former President Erap Estrada.

About the image: Joey De Venecia filed his certificate of candidacy at the COMELEC. He is running (as newest party member) under Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Erap Estrada. Image is from Facebook profile of Joey De Venecia.

Will fate favors Joey De Venecia this time?

This time, no one told him to back off! Perhaps many are now telling him to continue his fight. It can be recalled that Joey De Venecia revealed, during Senate hearing, that he was told by a ‘mystery man’ to “back off” from the NBN deal. And the mystery man was allegedly First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. (Listen to Joey’s testimony from the PCIJ blog.)

As veteran businessman, he lost in a billion Pesos worth of deal. Now as newcomer to politics, will he go home victorious?

Joey De Venecia was here is Cebu to meet some youth leaders and bloggers. To campaign, of course.

Before I went to attend the meet and talk with Joey De Venecia, I asked three neighbors if they think Joey will win. I got, ambot lang kaha (We don’t know.), paminawon lang (Let’s see.), kinsa man na? (Who is he?).Will they vote for him? I got, wa pay siguro (Maybe).

Who is Joey De Venecia?

Who is Joey? NBN-ZTE deal witness. Son of Jose De Venecia. Apparently, we see him as the one who lost in a bidding and whistle-blow about bribes and corruption.

More than that, Joey De Venecia is a successful businessman. His biography in his official website (joeydevenecia.com) claimed that Joey changed the Philippine business landscape when he founded and launched broadband technology in the Philippines in 2000.

The same site says that Joey de Venecia III also pioneered and set up the first full-pledged call center in the Philippines.

Why he wants to become senator?

In an anti-Arroyo rally held in Makati, he introduced himself as negosyante and hindi pulitiko. (See the video of his speech on YouTube.)

So, he is not a politician as he claimed, but why is now running as senator? Why he entered into politics? Is it because he needs to? Or is it because he wants to? Or because he is now known? Many known people wants to go to politics. There are exemptions, of course.

I asked why he is now entering into politics. Before he answered, he clarified that he is a politician as he entered into the world of politics but clarified that he is not a traditional politician. He entered into politics because he has seen there is a need for him to contribute his expertise.

I agree, he is not the traditional candidate I have meet. during the entire talk, I never heard him sour-graping. He focused on his platform rather than on throwing mud to other candidates.

New to politics?

Politics is not a new thing for Joey De Venecia. His father served five terms as House Speaker. Politics must be in his blood. Still, having not held any elective post, being newbie in politics is undebatable.

One thing we are not sure this time is that if he had already “played” with politicians. Let us remember that his father, former Speaker Jose De Venecia, Jr., was still in his position when Joey bid for NBN.

There is one thing I am sure of. Joey De Venecia changed the political landscape of the country. Without his testimony in the Senate, his father could still have been the House Speaker. JDV could still be the staunch ally of President Arroyo.

Was it the turn of events drag him to politics?

The aborted NBN project was the culprit. It was the controversy that made him known.

Joey was tagged as “whistle-blower” to the alleged corruption in the aborted ZTE-NBN deal. But I only see him as witness to the case, not as whistle-blower. I agree with Sen. Richard Gordon who told that Joey could never be considered a whistle-blower because there were many times in this scandal that he could have blown the whistle, but did not. He only started complaining when he did not get his way. (See Inquirer.net report.)

What are his plans?

His TV ads project this message: computer connected to internet for everyone. He stressed that a computer connected to the internet in every Filipino home [will] give everyone access to livelihood and educational opportunities and bring the country firmly into the Information Age.

He elaborated that a personal computer, internet access and information support will have an immediate and dramatic impact on Filipino families [and] would give them enhanced educational and livelihood opportunities that are only available from IT, and a means for OFW families to re-integrate with their loved ones working abroad by commuting on the cyber-highway.

Is it possible? Joey said, this is not an impossible dream, but rather a realizable goal.

After the short talk, in a chit-chat with fellow Cebu bloggers, I asked some of them if nodding of their heads as Joey talked can be understood as equivalent to votes. I got mixed answers. Somewhat the same and somewhat different to the answers I got when I asked to my three neighbors.

The best title of this should have been, Joey De Venecia III: From business to politics. But the title has been written and I opted not to change it.

Bring down Noynoy Aquino’s popularity rating

Who would get surprised if one day a guy comes out and tells us that he was or he is Noynoy’s lover? Or a katorse (14-year-old) cries in front of national television telling all of us that she was raped by Nonoy some days ago?

Just to spice up stories, let’s all get surprised. But in Philippine politics, stories are fabricated; false witness are born. So will Filipinos get surprised when all of those unlikely breaking news come out?

Sen. Nonoy Aquino is consistently dominating on surveys despite of issues thrown to him, not-as-brainy as others out there; nothing but just a son of late senator and president; Hacienda Luisita, Kamag-anak, Inc., not capable to hold the office of the President and so on and so forth.

Being the consistent survey frontrunner, all other presidential bets have a common agenda of bringing down the popularity of Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sun Star Cebu columnist Anol Mongaya wrote.

In a Special December 2009 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Sen. Manny Villar’s ratings increased by six points which narrowed the lead of Sen. Noynoy Aquino from 19 to only 11 percentage points in a span of three weeks, PhilStar.com reports.

Manny Villar

Photo from quierosaber.wordpress.com

This excites Manny’s followers. A little success as they see it! The six points success of Villar can be attributed to his massive ads. Even children sing his ad jingles. Gilbert Remulla believes Villar will be able to lead in the surveys in the coming months says the same PhilStar.com report.

When Noynoy was asked his reactions,  he told as quoted by Inquirer.net reportthere are credible surveys and there are surveys that can be bought in Quiapo. The SWS survey was reportedly commissioned by Sen. Manny Villar.

Both Noynoy and Manny pull down each others’ position on ratings. We have witnessed this on a recent presidential forum. Villar hits Noynoy and the latter talk back. This highlights the very nature of political campaign – exchanges of juicy and cheesy words.

I won’t be surprised later if someone suddenly appears swearing that Villar’s billions was not the fruit of his sipag at tiyaga but come from a golden buddha Villar himself have discovered on his construction site. Juicy eh?

More than the cheesy and juicy stories, let us all decide on May 2010. Every vote counts!

Supreme Court ruling on appointed officials: equal protection or undue advantage?

Cebu City residents had expected GSIS chairman Winston Garcia to run as city mayor. But Garcia did not file his Certificate of Candidacy. Presumably, Garcia has still many things to do in GSIS. Presumably, Garcia doesn’t want to leave his position. As appointed official, he is considered as automatically resigned from his post once he file his COC based on the Omnibus Election Code.

Why should we not allow officials like Winston Garcia to run without leaving their post?

The recent Supreme Court ruling answers the question. Suprisingly, SC favored appointed officials like Winston.

In an 8-6 vote, the SC declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Omnibus Election Code prohibiting an appointive government official from discharging his functions after filing his COC, PhilStar.com report reads. The high court also nullified similar rules and provisions, including the provision of Resolution 8678 issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the same report added.

With this ruling, Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Vicente Sotto III should not resign to run for senator; Gilbert Teodoro, National Defense Secretart and chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council should not resign to run as president.

In reaching this decision, eight of the Supreme Court justices said the law violated the constitutional guarantee that no person should be denied the equal protection of the law, the editorial of Manila Standard Today observes.

But by giving equal protection of the law to appointed officials, the Supreme Court had given undue advantage. A public school head can run without leaving his position, a radio station manager of state-run Radyo ng Bayan can run without leaving his job. Imagine a police chief seeking a local position or a local COMELEC official running for mayor who don’t leave his job?

Of course, it sounds immoral and ethical if those people run without resigning. But what is immoral and unethical is considered as legal. There will be no violation of the law.

In Maguindanao massacre, the warlords are still alive!

Maguindanao warlords are drinking, feasting, and merrymaking because they have killed and immediately buried more than fifty people in just one morning. As of today, according to Inquirer report, the death toll reach to 57. This worst election-related killing saddened President Gloria Arroyo that she declared November 25 as the national day of mourning. “This is a supreme act of inhumanity that is a blight on our nation.” President Arroyo said in a statement quoted by the same Inquirer report.

Maguindanao massacre shocked the Filipino nation. The whole world is equally shocked because aside from women, 12 journalists were also killed.  “Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day”, Reporters Without Borders noted.

I wish to add my voice to loud voice condemning the Maguindanao massacre and calling for swift justice.

But three days after the killings, no one was questioned. No one was arrested. Who wants to arrest the untouchables anyway. There are no untouchables, Malacanang told reporters. It seems physical and circumstantial evidences are not yet enough.

The President herself vowed to give justice to the victims. I hope she will.

I won’t label Maguindanao as killing field. Not yet this time. But sooner or later, that part in Mindanao becomes the killing field of warlords in the new century! Unless the President Arroyo mobilizes all her power to destroy the armed groups controlled by few families.

We lost 57 lives (and still counting) in Maguindanao massacre and we meet the warlords who still wield power.

By the way, who are the warlords? I think Commission on Human Rights chairwoman, Leila De Lima, can point them. I feel President Gloria Arroyo knows them.