Pagbabago! and Ibon Foundation dare the Filipino people to be more critical in choosing their candidates. High on their “people’s criteria” are concrete steps by the presidential candidate to stamp out corruption and to promote human rights and stop abuses.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
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MANILA — Independent think tank Ibon Foundation and Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change gauged the presidential aspirants in a recently held forum at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.
Using the following 12 specific issues as criteria, the two groups called on voters to be wise in choosing candidates:
1) On corruption. Will they seek the truth behind the “Hello, Garci”, NBN-ZTE and fertilizer scam to name a few of the anomalies that involved the president?
2) Human rights. Will they end the policies giving rise to human rights violations?
3) National patrimony. Will they protect the national patrimony and environment by opposing large-scale, export-oriented, and foreign-led extractive industries such as mining and oil exploration?
4) Agrarian Reform and agricultural development. Will they work for genuine agrarian reform anchored on the distribution of land to the tillers?
5) Nationalist Economic Policies. Will they work for national industrialization?
6) Jobs and wages. Will they promote job creation and uphold job security by protecting domestic industry?
7) Social Services. Will they stop the commercialization and privatization of education and health services?
Prof. Roland Tolentino and Judy Taguiwalo of Pagbabago! and Rosario Bella Guzman of Ibon Foundation (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
8 ) Taxes. Are they in favor of scrapping the reformed value added tax (RVAT) and other regressive taxes?
9) Foreign Policy. Will they work for an independent foreign policy?
10) Peace process. Will they pursue the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines?
11) Gender. Will they uphold gender equality?
12) National culture. Will they promote national culture?
“It is during election period that people’s issues are brought up and used by politicians to win votes, but there is a need to determine the genuinely pro-people, patriotic and democratic candidate,” said Roland Tolentino, dean of the UP College of Mass Communications and spokesman of Pagbabago!.
Rosario Bella Guzman, executive editor of Ibon Foundation, said that while presidential candidates Manny Villar, Gilbert Teodoro, Joseph Estrada and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino all capture the people’s imagination using their symbols through media and new media, their stand on issues should also be reviewed.
Guzman said that Ibon’s No. 1 criteria is the candidates’ stand on corruption and prosecuting President Arroyo for her alleged crimes. Teodoro had said that he will not get involved in the prosecution of the president and will let the justice system work. Instead, he said he would focus on moving the country forward. Aquino, on the other hand, has vowed to prosecute the president but that he voted against playing the Garci tapes in Congress and even lauded Arroyo for her “I am sorry” speech.
Estrada has no clear stand on the issue and distanced himself from the opposition when they called for the resignation of the president since he was granted presidential pardon in 2007. Villar, who also faces allegations of corruption on the C-5 road extension project, has no clear answer regarding the prosecution of the president.