Monthly Archives: February 2007

Who’s your daddy?

Everything you need to know about Kabataan Partylist can be accessed here. Please spread the word, vote for Kabataan Partylist. To all my blog friends and acquaintances, here and outside the Philippines, thank you very much for your heart-warming messages of support.

Superstars spice up Philippine Elections, my blog entry for Global Voices Online.

The Comelec is requiring candidates to undergo drug testing. I have another proposal. Encourage candidates to undergo psychiatric treatment. I am interested to probe what issues young candidates have against their domineering politician-parents.

Did they really desire to be in public office or did their parents force them to take over the ‘family business’? How deep is their resentment against parents who imposed this type of life or career on them? Are there reluctant candidates who enter public governance just to please the whims of their parents? What about young politicians who could not live up to the expectations or standards of their very popular parents? Do they end up us sulking and depressed individuals? Do they compensate their impotence by displaying a macho and aggressive image? Do they rebel by performing poorly while in public office?

Few children will admit of having a feud with their parents. It is unfilipino to quarrel with elders in public, especially with relatives. A study on political dynasty will be enriched if it includes a psychological profile of politicians belonging to old political families. Maybe we will find out our problem is also caused by too many psychos who have troubled childhoods.

One needs to be rich to be successful in Philippine politics. One also needs a powerful and wealthy father. Let’s cite some father and son tandems in politics….

Lito Atienza hopes to be replaced by son Ali. Does young Atienza really has to speak, wear and act like the older Atienza? Perhaps Ali is really enjoying his role as the father’s son.

Governor LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur is feuding with his father, Congressman Luis Villafuerte, in public. Or is it a campaign tactic?

Here is a rumour which may be true. Son Jinggoy was not happy that half-brother JV is running for Senator. Daddy Erap conceded to Jinggoy’s plea and asked son JV to back out of the race. Son JV to daddy Erap: You broke my heart.

Young Binay and young Genuino are both vying for a seat in the House of Representatives. It may be a proxy war between father Mayor Binay and father PACGOR head Genuino.

Daddy knows best. Daddy Pimentel insists son Koko, a bar topnotcher, deserves a Senate seat. Daddy Mayor Duterte once barred his daughter from practicing law in Davao for conflict of interest. Now he wants his daughter to run for public office since, according to him, he doesn’t want a trapo to replace him after the end of his term.

If your father is a former President, why not run for public office? Victory is guaranteed, most of the time. This was proven by Gloria Macapagal, Jun Magsaysay, Doy Laurel, Bongbong and Imee Marcos.

Sometimes both father and son will lose in the elections. Wigberto and Erin Tanada both lost in 2001. Ismael and Chuck Mathay lost in 2004.

Sonny Belmonte is the father figure to his nephews who are set to run for local positions in Quezon City this May.

These politicians are lucky for having very popular fathers: Ruffy Biazon, Alan Cayetano, Noynoy Aquino, Dodot Jaworski, Mikey and Dato Arroyo, Mark Lapid, Charlie Cojuangco, Lala Sotto, Bingbong Crisologo, Krisel Lagman-Luistro, Benhur Abalos, Faustino Dy, Rene Velarde, Joel Villanueva, Raul Gonzales Jr., Abe Mitra, the list goes on and on if we include all local politicians.

Related entries:

Dadedidodu
Sons and Politicians
Plant a tree then run

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Cybercampaigning

Download campaign materials of Kabataan Partylist. Watch our video message for the youth. Check out the photos during our national convention. I uploaded new pictures in my photoblog.

(Thanks Ederic, Jhay, Bikoy, Shari for the ideas on how to launch our cybercampaign).

Politicians agree that election campaigning is a media war. They echo the same studies: Most people rely on TV and radio for information. Less than 2 percent of the population depend on posters and internet to monitor the news. It is then logical why many senatoriables allot more than half of their campaign expenses for TV ads.

But candidates should not ignore the power of internet. Online campaigning can actually complement traditional election tactics. This may not decisively influence the outcome of elections today but it can be an effective tool for campaigning.

According to the AC Nielsen survey, there were 7.5 million internet users in the Philippines back in 2005. Last year, the estimate was 9 million. The number is still small compared to the audience share of TV and radio but the increase of internet users every year is phenomenal. Ten years ago, who would have thought mobile phones and texting will become handy and popular today? Ten years from now, the internet may emerge as a more influential source of information than TV.

Politicians need to be informed that most of the internet users (55 percent) today are young people aged 20-29. According to the same survey, 68 percent of internet users have bachelor degrees, 63 percent live in Metro Manila and 41 percent of students who are actively surfing the web are fulltime undergraduate students.

A politician tapping the internet is a politician reaching out to an educated segment of our population residing in a vote-rich area. These people are highly respected in their communities who can influence the opinion of others.

A TV ad needs to be quick and precise in introducing the candidate since it is expensive. Campaign platforms are reduced into dull soundbytes and uninspiring election jingles. On the other hand, the internet provides affordable and even free opportunities to make a comprehensive, creative and entertaining presentation of a candidate’s election agenda. In short, it is more educational and interactive since internet users can immediately send feedback to the candidate.

For example, Prospero Pichay wants us to believe he is ‘pro-pinoy’. His TV ad is a disappointment. He may never know how many people are turned-off with his ad. But through the internet, readers can immediately give constructive criticism. Pichay can also explain in detail of his plan to lower the prices of medicines and improve the livelihood of our people. Through the internet, Pichay can boast of his ‘pro-pinoy’ programs without worrying of expensive rates.

Political strategists are correct in underscoring the fact that despite advances in technology, Philippine election campaigning is still traditional. Candidates need to reach out, talk and mingle with the most number of people. Voters have to feel of being personally involved in the election campaign. Analysts insist the internet cannot perform this task.

They may be correct but they are also wrong. Virtual can become real. It’s not just going online that matters. It’s how to synergize online campaigning with traditional election strategies that define the effectiveness of the internet.

In our national headquarters, we don’t have boxes of campaign paraphernalias. We still don’t have the resources to print election posters. We don’t have a fax machine. We don’t have newspapers and cable TV to monitor the news. But we do have a wi fi connection.

We don’t have money to reproduce and transport our partylist brochures, T-shirts and leaflets. Our problem was partly solved by asking our members and supporters to download these materials from our website and multiply account. When allies and politician friends comment that we do have posters in Antipolo, Batangas, Albay, Baguio, Ilocos, Davao and elsewhere, they find it hard to believe that these posters were not given by the national office.

We also uploaded our campaign jingle in the internet and we asked our chapters to edit the song by translating some parts in their local languages.

We have volunteer students who visit the office everyday and they use their laptop computers to campaign in the internet. We have been asking bloggers to grab our campaign designs/graphics advertisement and post them in the sidebars of their personal websites. We have motivated members who are endorsing our partylist in friendster, myspace, chatrooms and other social networking sites.

I have been receiving e-mails from many people asking for concrete ways to contribute in our campaign. Most of them learned about my candidacy through the endorsement of bloggers.

I have been attending discussion groups and school assemblies because students have been inviting me through the internet. Some are printing and disseminating our campaign materials in their communities.

I belong to a group known for its grassroots organizing capability. We cannot be accused of overemphasizing or exaggerating the potential of the internet. The bulk of our membership still relies in the tried and tested formula of campaigning directly to the people. What we are doing is maximizing the internet because it is there. Online campaigning is easy, affordable, cool, interactive and safe. Online campaigning is a necessity for candidates with little resources like us.

Dear Renee

Vote Kabataan Partylist: Visit our party website.

Happy birthday my sweet cheeky little darling! Thank you for making life more meaningful. Thank you for the giggles, hugs, kisses and affection you give to us everyday. You are our eternal source of pride and delight.

I always boast to my friends that I have a very beautiful, lovable and intelligent child. You are a quick learner. You are interested in so many things. You love to read so many illustrated books. You always want to paint, play the piano toy and read the alphabet. You are fascinated with jollibee, barney, captain hook and pooh. You enjoy swimming and strolling in the malls.
You have a big appetite for legumes, egg white, choco drink and pasta. Sometimes, you are satisfied with eating lots of rice.

You already know how to use the potty trainer, remote control and computer mouse. You insist in getting your own drinking water from the water dispenser. You volunteer in using your mom’s lipstick and face powder. You relish posing for the cameras.

Anak, you cry often. You cry in public places which can be very embarrassing. But I’m not annoyed. How can I be mad at you? You are my angel. Besides, you know very well how to make me smile. Its music to my ears everytime you cry out my name. It’s always a calming moment when you reach out for me and hold my face in your hands. Every morning, it has become your habit to remind me to take my vitamins. I’m amazed by your cute vanity since you can be entertained by showing your baby pictures.

My fear is you are growing up too fast that we may not always be there to guide you in every step of life. Every child wants to have his/her freedom from the protective company of parents. I wish I could freeze time so that you will remain our cute baby Renee. But that is impossible. That is also unfair. You will have your freedom. You will have your reason to resent us, your parents. At this early, you are already eager to be out of the house in order to play with your friends and ride your mini bike. Soon, you will desire moving in your own house.

Renee, I want to say sorry for the many days I am away from you. I’m sorry I couldn’t go home earlier most of the time. If you only knew how much I always yearn to be with you and your Mom. I feel guilty everytime I am far from you (I’m in Daraga, Albay today). I feel disappointed everytime I am unable to stop you from crying.

I’ll be away more often in the next three months. Election campaigning will force me to spend less time with you. I do not object talking to ordinary people and young leaders of the land. They are sensible people. But I do detest talking to some politicians and other noxious individuals (which may include the young, misinformed, pompous trapolitos) since I could have spent my precious time with you.

Renee, running in the elections is difficult. My political party only has meagre resources to mount a nationwide campaign. I am forced to steal from our family savings. (Didn’t you notice the inferior diaper brand I bought last week?). But lack of money can be solved by employing creative means of campaigning. What is really worrisome is the nature of elections in our country. It is violent. It is barbaric. It is anti-poor. I have many comrades who have been killed by unknown (coward) assassins. Leftist leaders are being persecuted. My group was recently labelled as a ‘communist front’ by the national security adviser.

Renee, elections is a season of mudslinging. Perhaps, there will be malicious accusations that will be hurled against my group. I can only assure you two things, which by the way have been dramatically said before: 1) Your Papa is not a pig; 2) Your Papa is not for sale.

Lastly, anak, don’t believe in the teasing of your Mom that you are already too old to breastfeed. It is good for your health and it saves us money. Just don’t bite too hard.

Renee, we love you. Happy birthday!

Related entries:

A father’s lament
Newborn
24 Oras: Kahit palaging tulog ang bata

Why the youth should vote?

Dear friends and fellow bloggers: My group, Kabataan Partylist, will run in the elections through the partylist system. I am the president and number one nominee of this group. Your support and vote will be very much appreciated.

Check out my ‘lady followers’ in my photoblog. Sign the online petition of Txtpower against Globe’s new unlimited texting promo.

I’ve been trying to write this article for many weeks but I could only think of reasons why the youth should not vote. I could always imagine young voters questioning the worthiness of participating in the elections. Why vote if ‘Garcis’ of this world will count the ballots? Why encourage my family and friends to be active in politics if election campaigning is doomed to be violent? Why support a candidate if he/she will turn out to be a monster in the future anyway?

These are valid questions. These are legitimate apprehensions. These may be reasons why many young people refuse to be involved in the elections. I also have these misgivings about the coming elections.

Ditching a dirty political exercise is justifiable. It is also an easy decision to make. But I need not surrender to cynicism everyday.

If elections is filthy, let’s make it less filthy. If elections is dominated by the elite, let’s make the elite listen to our problems. If elections is a popularity contest, let’s demand a concrete platform from all candidates.

I am already curious about the election agenda of candidates. I want to know their platform for education health and environment. What is their program for the youth? What is their social reform agenda? How would they convince our skilled professionals to remain in the country?

If we abandon the elections and allow the trapos to dominate the campaign, elections will be more meaningless and futile exercise. But our vigilance and active engagement would probably make a difference in the reforms we want to achieve by electing competent leaders and removing imbeciles in government.

Voting is just one of the many ways to be involved in the elections. We can actually volunteer for political parties and candidates espousing programs we think the country needs. We can report electoral violations (use those camera phones). We can campaign for an honest and peaceful elections through texting, chat, blog and joining advocacy groups during the counting of votes.

We can cancel out all our activities on May 14 in order to brave the long queues and vote in our local precints. If we don’t vote, somebody else will vote in our behalf. Remember, ghost voters are hard to catch in a superstitious country like ours. Voting is also a rare chance to get even with bad politicians.

Young voters could potentially dictate who will seat in the Senate and the next batch of local leaders. This is possible if the youth will vote on May or if they are not registered, influence family and friends to vote for candidates they want to win.

Analysts doubt the potency of the youth vote. According to them, the youth will not be a significant force in deciding the outcome of the coming polls. This is our chance to prove the skeptics wrong. The youth vote is REAL. We only need candidates who can inspire the youth with their creative and sensible election agenda.

We need another Cory Aquino who united a grieving nation in the mid 1980s. We need a new Miriam Defensor Santiago who amazed the youth with her wit and bravado during the early 1990s. The country is looking for another politician in the mold of Raul Roco who will articulate the concerns of young people.

It is not enough to be a young politician to win over the youth. It is not enough to be an Opposition candidate to call oneself as an idealist leader. Sons and daughters of brilliant politicians must still prove they deserve the support of the youth.

I go back to the earlier question. Why vote on May 14? It’s our duty as responsible citizens. It’s our duty to strengthen democracy. To use the language of ‘star wars’: We are the only hope. The Force is not with us. We are the Force.

Elections is an opportunity to change the faces that make up Philippine political system. If we fail to dislodge the corrupt and tyrants in government, then it is a lesson that voting should be complemented by other political actions that advance the cause of democracy. That means elections is not enough.

If all else fails, revolution remains an option. Revolution? Well, why not?

Related entries:

Ibang rali ito
In defense of human rights
Defining the Filipino youth

Urban facelift

Encounter: Beware of doublespeak. Anti-terror law is now called Human Security Act. Payatas dumpsite is renamed Quezon City controlled disposal facility. Military presence in urban poor communities is justified as civic-military project for community development. Soldiers were deployed in Payatas terrorizing the community and detaining members of progressive groups. We confronted these soldiers yesterday who were stationed in the barangay hall. They snapped back by asking our cedula and insisting that we do not contribute to the progress of the nation (arguments you hear at NBN). They admitted visiting houses of residents without a court order since, according to them, they only want to have a chat with local folks. Now there is no doubt there will be electoral violence and fraud.

Bukod sa pagdami ng mga banyagang kapihan sa mga sentrong lungsod ng bansa, kapansin-pansin din ang pagsulpot ng mga klinik na pangpaganda ng mukha’t katawan. Para sa isang mahirap na bansa, nakakagulat ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong nais magpaputi, magparetoke ng ilong, magpakinis ng balat at magkaroon ng buhok na mahaba, makinang at may kulay. Para sa isang bansang dominante ng mga Katoliko, isang palaisipan kung bakit maraming tao ang hindi mapalagay sa mukha’t katawang bigay ng Diyos.

Tila lahat ay nais maging flawless ang kutis. Tila lahat gusto maging ‘Imelda’. Kunsabagay, maganda ang mga lola natin, di ba?

Walang masama sa pagiging banidoso ng mga indibidwal. Karapatan ng mga indibidwal kung hindi na sila naniniwalang ‘brown is beautiful’. Plus factor para sa mga kalalakihan ang pagiging metrosexual, lalo na kung ubersexual. Ayon nga kay Doktora Belo, makapangyarihan ang kagandahan.

Pero ang ganitong mentalidad ay nagagamit din sa administrasyon ng mga siyudad. Kailangan daw maging ‘guwapo’ ang Metro Manila kaya tinataboy ang mga panget sa lansangan. Inaalis ang mga bagay na hindi kaaya-aya sa paningin ng sibilisadong komunidad. Tulad ng pagtanggal ng kulugo, nunal at tigyawat sa mukha ng mga tao, tinatanggal din ang maduduming elemento sa mga kalye.

Tinatarget ang mga indibidwal na hindi kinikilala bilang lehitimong miyembro ng lipunang Pilipino dahil sa kanilang kahirapan, relihiyon, edukasyon, etnisidad at kasarian. Inaalisan ng karapatan ang mga Pilipinong hindi kayang umayon sa rekisito ng kumbensiyunal na lipunan. Dahil sa kanilang pagiging ‘iba’, masama at madumi sa pananaw ng dominanteng uri, pinaiigting ang diskriminasyon laban sa kanilang hanay.

Pinatindi ang pagwawalis sa mga maralitang komunidad. Giniba ang kanilang mga tirahan dahil may itatayong kalsada, tulay, mall, northrail/southrail at commercial center. Wala silang karapatan dahil hindi naman sila tulad ‘natin’. Pinalayas din ang mga maliliit na mangangalakal (street vendors kung tawagin at kutyain) sa mga bangketa.

Nililipol ang mga ‘kriminal’ sa pagsugod sa kuta ng mga mahihirap. Tinutugis ang mga ‘terorista’ sa pagsuyod sa komunidad ng mga Muslim.

Kahit ang kakarampot at di sustinidong tulong na binibigay sa mga nasa evacuation center dahil sa bagyo, sunog at iba pang sakuna ay maaaring bunsod din ng motibasyong panatilihing nasa evacuation center ang mga mahihirap at pigilan silang magpakalat-kalat sa kalye at dungisan ang paligid. Nariyan ang takot na kung hindi sila mabigyan ng tulong ay baka kumatok sila sa mga pintuan natin at humingi ng limos.*

Pilit tinatago ang kahiya-hiyang mukha ng kahirapan pero hindi naman inuugat ang mga problema ng bansa.

Gustong linisin ang Metro Manila kaya pinagbawal ang mga lalaking hindi nagsusuot ng damit sa kalye. Binigyan ng libreng pustiso ang mga bungal na parak. Paparusahan ang mga mababahong traffic enforcer.

Magnanakaw daw ng kuryente’t tubig ang mga iskwater. Parang aso kung umihi sa lansangan ang mga lalaki. Nagtatapon ng basura sa ilog ang mga nakatira sa estero. Hindi nagbabayad ng buwis ang mga manggagawa. Panatikong dinidiin ang mga di kanais-nais na praktika’t gawi ng mahihirap pero hindi pinapansin ang korupsiyon ng mga nasa kapangyarihan. Pinapalaki ang pagkakamali ng maliliit na tao pero pinapalampas ang kabulukan ng burgesya.

Dapat daw maging disiplinado, sundin ang mga batas at igalang ang awtoridad. Pero sino ba ang lumalabag sa batas? Sino ba ang nasa likod ng jueteng, smuggling at pangangalakal ng ilegal na droga? Sino ba ang gumagamit ng batas at iniikutan ang batas para sa kanilang personal na kapakinabangan? Sino ba ang may-ari ng mga malalaking pabrika na bumubuga ng maitim na usok at lumalason sa suplay ng ating tubig? Sino ang nagbigay ng prangkisa sa mga kumpanya upang wasakin ang ating kagubatan at angkinin ang ating yamang mineral?

Nararapat lang linisin ang siyudad. Makatwirang gawing ‘guwapo’ o ‘maganda’ ang Metro Manila. Pero dapat simulan ang krusadang ito sa tuktok ng pamahalaan at boardroom ng mga malalaking kumpanya. Andun ang mga tunay na madudumi, masasama at kasuklam-suklam na elemento ng lipunan.

* Pagsusuri ito ni Slavoj Zizek. Ayon sa kanya: “Compassion is the way to maintain the proper distance towards a neighbor in trouble…the underlying logic is that we must pay so that our neighbor will remain a neighbor, at a proper distance, and will not come to us…the postmodern ethics of compassion with the victim legitimizes the avoidance, the endless postponement, of the act. All ‘humanitarian’ activity of aiding the victims are there to obfuscate the urgency of the act”.

Youth and Charter Change

Last Saturday, I spoke in a forum organized by political science students from different Metro Manila schools. The other speakers were Jose Abueva, Benjie Tolosa, Olivia Caoili and Sonny Africa. Below is the text of my speech.

Check out the new pictures in my photoblog.

Any proposal to amend the constitution has the potential to arouse the interest of the youth. After all, we do want changes in the system. We want to end corruption. We want a more responsive government. We want to end the seemingly endless cycle of poverty and hopelessness in the country.

An honest review of the fundamental law of the land is welcome since it can remove irrelevant provisions in the Constitution and infuse better measures that would safeguard our democracy and promote economic growth.

But why did Cha-Cha fail? Why didn’t it receive overwhelming public support? Why was it rejected by many young people?

To rephrase my question, bakit na-turn-off ang kabataan sa Chacha?

1. The motives in pushing for ChaCha are suspect. With due respect to the sincere advocates of charter change, there were many who believed charter change was endorsed in 2005 by the President to distract the attention of the people from various scandals/irregularities hounding the regime;

2. The ‘No-elections’ or no-el proposal. This validated our fear that incumbent politicians will use ChaCha for their own narrow interests. Besides, election is a sacred activity in a democracy. Why cancel the 2007 elections – it would be an opportunity to remove incompetent officials and reelect performing leaders;

3. People’s Initiative of Sigaw ng Bayan. The Supreme Court correctly described this initiative as a ‘grand deception’. We could have used the people’s initiative for genuine reforms demanded by the people. But we saw how this proposal became a politician’s initiative. Besides, how could Sigaw ng Bayan succeed in fooling the youth? This is the ‘reality generation’ which cannot be fooled because they know what’s real (McCann inter-generation study);

4. The proposal to abolish the Senate. Indeed, the prestige of the Senate has gone down over the years. But it is a necessary component in our democracy to check the excesses of the Executive branch of our government. If we want to adopt a parliamentary form of government, why propose the removal of the Senate? There are parliamentary systems which have bicameral legislatures like Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia and Japan. Most countries of the world with federal systems have bicameral legislatures.

5. Con-Ass or Consa. Congressman Butz Aquino said the best reason why we should not switch to a parliamentary form of government is the current members of Philippine Congress. You’ve seen how they railroaded Con-ass in the Lower House. You’ve seen how they defeated themselves last December. It was a low point in Congress history.

6. Fear of authoritarianism. Despite its flaws, the 1987 Constitution was a product of the anti-dictatorship struggle. It contained many provisions against the return of Marcos-type of martial law. It was feared that ChaCha will be used to curtail civil liberties. The fear has basis since this government has succeeded in reviving the horrors of martial rule. This is the same government which imposed PP 1017, EO 464 and calibrated preemptive response.

ChaCha in schools

Despite these reasons, ChaCha made a strong impact among the youth last year. Lobat may be word of the year but ChaCha was the most spoken word in Philippine politics and it resonated in our campuses. ChaCha was discussed, debated, supported and opposed in most schools. Pro and anti ChaCha groups toured the universities and communities throughout the country explaining the strengths and weaknesses of proposals to amend the Constitution. Students became more familiar with different types of government, different modes of changing the Constitution and different ways to support or oppose a political proposal. Parliamentary, presidential, concon, peoples’ initiative became household terms. Even in cyberspace, ChaCha was discussed in chatrooms, blogs and in many websites. ChaCha politicized and divided many members of the academe and the youth sector.

Concom report

Let me now highlight the proposed amendments in the Constitution which would directly affect the youth or which would be a major concern of young people in the future.

The Constitutional Commission was the first to draft a set of recommendations to change the Constitution. In its report, it proposed the deletion of the following progressive provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) of the 1987 Constitution:

Section 8. The Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.

Section 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living,and an improved quality of life for all.

Section 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs

Section 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

Section 17. The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.

Section 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.

Section 27. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.

Also deleted was Section 3 of Article XIV, on education, which states:

“They [educational institutions] shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.”

We registered our opposition to the deletion of provisions which mandate the State to recognize and promote youth welfare and the prioritization of education. The National Youth Commission noted our opposition and agreed to lobby for the retention of these very important provisions of our Constitution.

After the Concom report, the House adopted different versions of changing the Constitution. In the new House revisions, the provisions I mentioned have been retained.

Opening the economy

In all versions of ChaCha, what is common is the proposal to open up the economy and allow foreigners to own land and industries in the country.

In the House version, Section 12 in Article XII read as follows:

“Section 12. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 2 and 11 hereof, citizenship restrictions are hereby lifted relative to the ownership and lease of alienable lands of public domain which include agricultural, residential, commercial and reclaimed lands, development of natural resources, ownership of franchises and of public utilities, mass media, education, insurance and advertising, unless otherwise provided by law. Parliament shall provide for limited foreign ownership in regard to franchises granted to corporations including public utilities of large scale.”

This will allow foreign schools to set up campuses in the country.

Before I proceed to the discussion on whether the entry of foreign schools can improve Philippine education, let me cite a statement by former Senator Wigberto Tanada on the danger of depending too much on liberalizing the economy:

“…But have we not liberalized the entire industrial sector and opened it up to full foreign ownership? Have we not liberalized the entire financial sector, making it one of the most open in Asia? Have we not liberalized the trade sector, exposing our domestic industry and domestic agriculture to the full brunt of foreign competition, most of which is subsidized foreign competition (e.g., subsidized American agricultural exports and Chinese industrial exports cheapened by an undervalued renminbi)? Have we not liberalized the agricultural sector, drastically reducing in the name of agricultural deregulation the support the government used to extend to small-farmer development? Ang tanong ngayon, sa kabila ng pagbukas ng ating ekonomiya, nasaan na ang inaasam-asam nating foreign investment?”

Sen. Tanada noted that despite the ‘obsolete, nationalist, protectionist’ provisions in the 1987 Constitution, the government was able to open up the economy and liberalize various industries. Yet economic prosperity did not materialize.

Citizenship restriction is the least of foreign investors’ concerns. What they complain is corruption, security problem, red tape and weak infrastructure system. Opening up the economy will also not automatically lead to economic growth. What is certain is that foreign companies will exploit the cheap labor in this country.

Welcome foreign schools

Now, what will be the consequences of allowing foreigners to own schools in the country? Will it improve Philippine education? Will it reverse the declining quality of learning in the country? In my opinion, the entry of foreign schools will be detrimental for Philippine education. It may lead to the closure of many schools which can’t compete with foreign schools.

Foreign schools may also entice our bright teachers to work for them by offering large incentives.

In many of the school assemblies organized by pro ChaCha groups, students were asked whether they want to study in Harvard or Oxford. Support for ChaCha, according to pro ChaCha groups, would allow Harvard or Oxford to set up a branch here in the Philippines. I think this is mere wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking because the schools which would probably operate here would be large corporations involved in the education sector and not the reputable universities like Harvard or Oxford. Big corporations which would offer ‘global courses’ and standardized teacher-proof modules.

This I think will worsen the already commercialized character of Philippine higher education. This will lead to the further strengthening of an education system responsive to the manpower requirements of other countries rather than our domestic needs.

Right now, the most popular courses are the marketable courses, or those which offer easy employment in other countries after graduation. Nursing is the most popular course today. Everybody wants to study nursing. Even doctors are studying to become nurses.

Imagine if foreign schools are allowed to operate here, would we expect them to offer courses which our agricultural economy requires? Most probably they will continue focusing on courses required by the ‘global economy’ over our national needs.

ChaCha will be a major issue after the elections. Talking about the idea of changing the Constitution is not enough. We have to scrutinize the actual amendments that are being proposed. We have to continue asking. We have to continue debating.

We can actually begin today. Election campaigning has already started. Registered voter or not, your voice will be heard by all politicians. We should start questioning all candidates. Are they in favor charter change? Why and why not? Are they in favor of a stronger Executive? Are they in favor of abolishing the Senate? How about the protection of our civil liberties? Remember also the names lawmakers who railroaded Con-Ass last December.

Make a stand on the issue of ChaCha. Let the world know about your position. Speak out, write, text, chat, blog – there are many ways to express your position on ChaCha. The important thing is that we do not remain silent today.

Related entries:

Shall we dance the ChaCha?
ChaCha during the monsoon season
Plebiscite question
Con-ass moments
Private or public education

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ChaCha at ang krisis sa edukasyon

Sinulat ko ito mga dalawa o tatlong buwan na ang nakakalipas….

Upang makakuha ng suporta sa taongbayan at kabataan, dinadaan sa panlilinlang ang paglalako ng panukalang baguhin ang Saligang Batas o ChaCha.

Ayon sa mga tagapagsulong ng ChaCha, gaganda ang kinabukasan ng kabataan, bubuti ang kalidad ng edukasyon at dadami ang mga trabaho kapag natuloy ang pagbasura ng Konstitusyong 1987.

Pawang kasinungalingan, kasinungalingan at kasinungalingan.

Lalong lulugmok ang kabuhayan sa bansa, didilim ang kinabukasan ng kabataan at sisidhi ang krisis sa edukasyon kung ipapatupad ang ChaCha.

Nakakabahala ang mga probisyong gustong idagdag at alisin sa panukalang ChaCha. Titiyakin nito na lalong magiging makapangyarihan hindi lang si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at mga tradisyunal na pulitiko kundi lalo na ang mga dayuhang mandarambong.

Sa ating pag-aaral, ang sumusunod ang tuwirang implikasyon ng ChaCha sa kabataan at estudyante:

1. Pagtanggal ng probisyong nagtitiyak na prayoridad dapat ng Estado ang edukasyon, sining, agham at teknolohiya (rekomendasyon ng Abueva Commission);
2. Pagtanggal ng probisyong kinikilala ng Estado ang papel ng kabataan sa pagbubuo ng matatag na nasyon (rekomendasyon ng Abueva Commission);
3. Pagtanggal ng probisyong nag-aatas sa mga eskuwelahan na ituro ang nasyonalismo, pagkilala sa mga pambansang bayani at karapatang-pantao (rekomendasyon ng Abueva Commission);
4. Pagpasok ng banyagang eskuwelahan o ang dayuhang pagmamay-ari ng mga institusyong pangkarunungan;
5. Pagdagdag ng salitang ‘responsible’ sa ating pinaglabang mga karapatan sa pamamahayag at malayang asembliya (rekomendasyon ng Abueva Commission);

Paano makikinabang ang sektor ng edukasyon sa ChaCha kung hindi na obligasyon ng pamahalaan ang pagbibigay ng edukasyon? Paano magiging makabuluhan ang edukasyon kung ang mga eskuwelahan ay pagsisilbihan ang interes ng dayuhan? Paano mapapangalagaan ang kapakanan ng kabataan kung hihikayatin lamang ang mga dayuhan na magnegosyo sa Pilipinas at pagsamantalahan ang murang lakas paggawa ng ating mga batang propesyunal?

Edukasyon para sa iilan, edukasyon para sa dayuhan

Higit na mauunawaan ang kabuktutan ng panukalang ChaCha kung tutumbukin natin ang mga pulisiya sa edukasyon ng pamahalaang ito.

Hindi lamang negosyo ang edukasyon sa bansa. Ito ay nagsisilbi sa pangangailangan ng mga dayuhan. Kasalanan ni GMA kung bakit patuloy ang pagbulusok ng kalidad sa edukasyon. Nangunguna kasi sa prayoridad ng pamahalaan ang pagtitiyak na kumikita ng limpak-limpak ang mga kapitalista-edukador at patuloy na nagluluwal ang mga eskuwelahan ng mga gradweyt na may sapat na kasanayan para makapagtrabaho sa mga dayuhang kumpanya.

Mula noong 2001, lalong pinabilis ng pamahalaan ang pribatisasyon ng edukasyon o ang sistematikong pagpapabaya ng pamahalaan sa obligasyon nitong pag-aralin ang kabataang Pilipino. Binigyan ng pahintulot ang mga pribadong paaralan na malayang itakda ang mga bayaring sinisingil sa mga estudyante. Ang badyet ng mga pampublikong pamantsan ay kinakaltasan bawat taon. Ito ang nagbubunsod ng pagtaas ng matrikula at ang pagbebenta ng yamang intelektuwal ng mga nasa pampublikong pamantasan sa pribadong kapital.

Higit na pinatingkad ni GMA ang kolonyal na oryentasyon ng ating edukasyon. Ilang beses naglabas ng utos ang Malakanyang na dapat gamitin ang Ingles bilang midyum ng pagtuturo para hindi raw mahirapan ang sektor ng Business Process Outsourcing sa pagtanggap ng mga empleyado. Inatas din ni GMA sa mga pamantasan ma mag-alok ng kurso para sa call center. Pinaasikaso sa TESDA ang pagsasanay ng mga supermaid upang maging eksport ng bansa. Hindi lamang kurikulum sa basic education ang dinisenyo ng mga dayuhang bangko. Maging ang mga kaalyado ni GMA sa Kongreso (Rep. Pichay) ay nagrereklamo kung bakit kailangang aprubahan muna ng World Bank ang mga teksbuk na gagamitin ng mga estudyante.

Ipinapatupad ba ang mga programang ito bilang paghahanda ng pamahalaan sa tuluyang pagtanggal ng mga ‘makabayang’ probisyon sa Konstitusyon o sinusulong ba ang ChaCha upang maging legal ang komodipikasyon ng edukasyon at pagbebenta ng ating kabataan sa mga dayuhan? Ang malinaw ay higit na magiging kolonyal at komersyalisado ang edukasyon kung magtatagumpay ang ChaCha.

Krisis sa edukasyon

Hindi solusyon ang ChaCha sa krisis sa edukasyon. Sa halip ito ang magiging dahilan sa tuluyang pagkalugmok ng edukasyon. Sa pagpasok ng mga banyagang korporasyon sa sektor ng edukasyon, ibubunsod nito ang isang di-pantay na kumpetisyon na maaaring maging dahilan ng pagsasara ng mga maliliit na eskuwelahan. Lalong magiging elitista ang sistema ng edukasyon dahil mayayaman lamang ang maaaring makapag-aral sa mga pribadong eskuwelahan. Nakaamba ang pagtalikod ng pamahalaan sa responsibilidad nitong magbigay ng mura at makabuluhang edukasyon. Milyun-milyong kabataan ang kukuha ng mga kursong mas tutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga dayuhan.

Mabibigo ang pangarap ng mga kabataan kung matutuloy ang ChaCha. Mabibigo ang pangarap nating magkaroon ng isang maunlad na lipunan.

Hindi dapat tanungin kung kailan ang tamang panahon para sa ChaCha. Ang mas mainam na katanungan ay kung para kanino ang panukalang ito.

Election notes

Check out the ‘asian treasure’ in my photoblog. Click here and here.

KBL is alive! I’m not referring to the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the political party of the Marcoses. KBL stands for Kasal – Binyag – Libing/Lamay. It is the most popular campaign strategy in local politics. For many politicians, grassroots empowerment means having the most number of godchildren in every barangay. No politician can ever refuse a request to be a godparent in a wedding. There are constituents who can excuse the lackluster performance of an incumbent official as long as the local leader has been visible in the community. People will not forget how many times a town councilor attended wedding, baptismal and funeral ceremonies. Since election is already near, politicians are visiting more funeral parlors these days. Insomniac candidates have an advantage since they can mingle with more people every night.

What’s in a name? Secretary Rolando Andaya once rejected a proposal for him to run for senator. He complained he does not have a street name like Lacson, Recto, Osmeña, Legarda, Roxas or a Macapagal. Politicians belonging to old families with familiar names have an advantage over other candidates. There are rumors that Atty. Koko Pimentel doesn’t want to be confused with Senator Kiko Pangilinan so he will use ‘Aquilino Pimentel’ in the election campaign. In this way, voters will think the more famous elder statesman of the country, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., is running for senator again. There will be real confusion if former Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Tarlac Representative Noynoy Aquino will both run in the senate. Who will give way? Will Sen. Tessie echo the plea of Sen. Kit Tatad: young politicians who aspire to be senators could wait, should wait.

Gang of four. According to one senatoriable, the Administration is planning to cheat four candidates in the senate race. 1. Alan Peter Cayetano. Defeating Alan would teach politicians aligned with the Opposition that they can criticize the government but they must not delve deeper into the affairs of the First Family. 2. Panfilo Lacson. Cayetano’s expose of secret bank accounts in Germany may be hot news today but it was Lacson’s Jose Pidal expose which really hurt the First family. The Administration has a score to settle with ‘Senator Supercop’. 3. Noynoy Aquino. Noynoy’s defeat would prove that Tita Cory is no longer a formidable political force. 4. JV Estrada. The Administration wants to finally defeat an Estrada scion in the elections. The elder Estrada remains the strongest rival of the President.

(My wife heard Loren Legarda will also be cheated. A strong performance by Legarda in the elections would re-validate the popularity of FPJ. Legarda is still known as the running mate of ‘da king.’ )

Tarp war. Many people gauge the performance of a local leader by the visibility of greeting streamers in the streets. Politicians are scrambling for strategic locations on where to place their campaign materials. Many of these ads are posted on electric posts, telephone wires, trees, walls and abandoned buildings. The MMDA demolition crew is powerless in dismantling these ‘road hazards’. The Comelec wants the youth to conduct a shame campaign against these politicians who are guilty of premature election campaigning.

Surveys. Election surveys are useful not only for candidates running for national positions. Incumbent local politicians actually commission city-wide or district-wide surveys to assuage their fear of losing in the elections. A politician will believe in the credibility of a survey firm as long as he/she is winning in the survey results. Politicians use survey results to convince the public that they have the support of the people.