Citizen complaint: Last year, I paid P15 for my cedula. This year, the Quezon City government is charging P55! (In Gapan, it’s P78, thanks to the ‘show me your cedula’ campaign of the military). Now I know how QC is earning its high income.
Election campaigning will officially commence next month but it’s already election season since last year.
Not a few politicians who believed the Palace rhetoric that charter change will supersede the 2007 regular elections are now scrambling to build their electoral machineries. The five G’s (guns, goons, gold, girls and god) will be unleashed once more to boost the electoral chances of discredited leaders.
Local government units have been giving away holiday gifts to poor constituents; greeting streamers from politicians have sprouted everywhere; Sen. Ralph Recto sponsored a TV campaign ad disguised as a Christmas message; Pres. Joseph Estrada celebrated the New Year with aspiring senators which included actor Richard Gomez.
There are valid fears that the next elections, especially at the local level, will be violent. From Abra to Capiz, politicians have been targeted by unknown assassins. Activists continue to be the main victims of extrajudicial murders. Private armies by local kingpins have begun spreading terror in the countryside.
Aside from violence, fraud may probably taint the elections again. The decision by the Commission on Elections not to push through with the automation of polls has revived past anxieties over the possible use of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving) to manipulate election results. News that the total number of voters will reach 49 million led to speculations that the voters’ list has been padded.
What is most worrisome is that reports about the 2007 elections continue to be focused on personalities. The public is denied of any meaningful chance to probe the platform of possible election candidates. The upcoming polls are in danger of being reduced again into a popularity contest.
That politicians can easily broach the idea of a ‘unity ticket’ between members of the Administration and Opposition underscores the failure of major political forces to present an alternative program that will challenge the policies of the current regime.
In the US, the midterm elections last year was used as a referendum for the ‘Iraq war’ policies of the Bush administration. After the defeat in the polls, Pres. Bush started talking of an ‘Iraq exit strategy’. The local Opposition should start defining a program or issue that will rally the people against the Arroyo government. Perhaps buoyed by positive survey results showing a major victory over Administration candidates, the Opposition has forgotten to draft a sensible, doable, creative and pro-people election agenda.
The unity in the Opposition should be more than a shared hatred against the sitting President. There must be specific answers to specific problems faced by the Filipino people.
I have a proposal. Maximize the 2007 elections to find sustainable solution to hunger. Surveys have been consistently revealing that more and more of our people have nothing to eat. If we want to end poverty, let’s begin by eliminating hunger. How could hunger prevail in a land blessed with abundant resources? How could there be disparity of wealth in the only Christian nation of Asia? Despite the Christian lesson of “love thy neighbor,” we have wealthy households surrounded by urban poor enclaves.
The campaign against hunger can be an opportunity to make the electoral campaign more relevant in addressing the real needs of the people. We can cite the inadequacies of the anti-poverty measures of the government and at the same time rate the performances of incumbent leaders. Instead of parading showbiz stars and sexy beauties in mass assemblies, politicians can be compelled to provide a concrete program on how to feed 90 million Filipinos.
We can ask the major political blocs, organized religion, big business, mainstream media, civil society and other kingmakers of the Republic to build a consensus and forge a ‘win-win’ solution against hunger. This is a paramount national concern requiring political will.