Need for New Politics: A People’s Analysis of the Platforms of Presidential
Philippine elections have evolved into a circus of popularity contests, the
majority of Filipinos still hopes that the election will bring about
improvements to their daily lives. This is why an analysis of the candidates’
platforms is needed in an effort to focus the debate more on issues than on
Media Center Reports
Reposted by Bulatlat.com
less than 30 days away until Filipino voters choose their next president, many
Filipinos are still considering who the wisest choice for president may be.
Reports presents an analysis -- from a people’s perspective -- of the five
presidential candidates’ platforms and their stand on important people’s
of the presidential candidates call for the need for a balanced budget. They
also propose various measures to increase the tax base by taxing different
consumer products (Arroyo is pushing for a tax on automobiles and higher taxes
on cigarettes and liquor products). They also propose ways to improve tax
collection and discourage tax evasion. However, these proposals favor rich
Filipinos while punishing poorer ones. The poor majority will shoulder the
burden of increased taxes as businesses will merely pass these on to consumers.
candidates also recognize the need for restructuring the country’s foreign
debt. FPJ calls for stretching the amortization period of debts. Villanueva
says, “Many of our foreign loans were shoved down our throats; the creditor is
as much to blame as the debtor, but we will honor our commitments.”
Roco has stated that the
government should demand for at least one year of debt relief.
states that he will prioritize budget spending on the delivery of basic social
services, while Arroyo’s proposed 2004 budget places social spending third
behind debt servicing and defense. In 2003 almost P6 out of every P10 that the
government spent went to interest and principal payments, leaving almost nothing
for social services.
Graft and Corruption
candidates call for transparency in government and promise to implement
different measures to curb and prevent corruption. Examples given were the
implementation of computerized and electronic procurement systems and the
formation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption patterned after the
Hong Kong model. Arroyo vows to continue lifestyle checks and push for reforms
in tax administration. Bro. Eddie Villanueva suggests preventive measures such
as commensurate salaries and benefits for workers, teachers, judges, military
and police to prevent corruption. He also proposes a massive reeducation program
for government centering on moral values.
many candidates themselves have been accused of corruption – Arroyo (PIATCO,
Macapagal Boulevard, Jose Pidal), Lacson (Kuratong Baleleng case), and Roco (for
printing posters during his stint as DepEd secretary.) Arroyo has also been
criticized for her lax treatment of former President Joseph Estrada who is on
trial for plunder. Ten disqualification cases were also filed against her before
the COMELEC with accusations ranging from violations of TV campaign advertising
regulations to diverting government funds to finance her campaign.
weakness of most proposals such as lifestyle checks is that they target the
small fry and not the top government officials who are often the most corrupt.
of the five candidates claim globalization is an inevitable reality. None among
them speaks out strongly against globalization or membership in the WTO. They
instead call for reforms. Arroyo calls for “liberalized but fair trade,” FPJ
claims that he will “re-orient the policy on globalization to expand markets
and to protect the economy from unfair competition.” Lacson promises to,
“re-think the government position and strategy in order to protect Philippine
interests”. Roco avers that he will work for “fair free trade”.
Lacson, and Arroyo promise to institute safety nets for the agriculture sector.
Roco claims he will institute safety nets for displaced workers. All candidates
call for adjustments in tariff rates and subsidies. Yet none point out that
there is no such thing as “fair free trade” since policies under the WTO
often favor rich nations over poorer ones.
candidates’ all-out support for globalization contradicts the negative
experience of the majority of Filipinos and the world’s poor who have been
reeling from the impact of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The
current local and international movement against globalization claims that these
policies have brought more misery and poverty to farmers, workers and other
sectors. They have been calling for
a pull out from WTO membership.
Labor and Employment
all of the candidates promise to create jobs and support worker training, not
one among them calls for an increase in the minimum wage. Even Villanueva, a
former trade union organizer claims that “an increase in the minimum wage is
not always beneficial to workers because it triggers increases in prices of
basic goods and services.”
her three-year term Arroyo refused to listen to the legitimate demand of workers
for a P125 across the board increase in the minimum wage. Yet she still boasts
of granting a 29.2 % increase in the Emergency Cost of Living Allowance, which
amounted to a measly PhP 30.
also boasts of creating over three million jobs during her term, most of which
were in the agricultural and informal sector and not permanent or stable.
Currently four out of 10 Filipinos are still considered extremely poor.
of the candidates sees the need for national industrialization as the solution
to massive unemployment.
of the candidates call for modernization of agriculture and for the speeding up
of the implementation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Roco and
Villanueva say that “the land should belong to the tillers”.
In addition, Roco calls for a study on the effects of CARP.
is aggressively pushing for conversion to planting of hybrid rice and greater
access of farmers to credit, such as through the proposed, “farm as
collateral” bill. The bill was
part of her administration’s priority legislative agenda. Critics however
claim that these programs will hit hard small farmers.
of the candidates elaborates on the need for genuine land reform and a break to
the feudal exploitation of peasants by landlords.
candidates promise to improve the quality of and access to education. Villanueva
and Roco promise free elementary and secondary education and, “study now and
pay later” programs. FPJ and Lacson promise to increase the budget for teacher
training and development.
and Arroyo push for the use of English as the medium of instruction. FPJ
promises to promote public-private sector partnership.
under Roco’s term as education secretary, teachers complained that they did
not experience any salary increase. He was not also able to solve the chronic
problem of delays in the payment of teachers’ benefits such as loyalty pay and
Arroyo, the drastic shortage in teachers and textbooks was not solved since the
budget for education was not given priority. She also implemented the Revised
Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) and pushed for the use of English as medium of
instruction, which according to critics do not solve the problem of the low
standard of education in public schools.
of the candidates question the colonial nature of the Philippine education
system which does not promote critical thinking or pro-people values.
the candidates promise to support social housing. Lacson says government social
housing should be pursued without expected return. Arroyo boasts of spending
P53.15 billion for housing. Reports however reveal that in 2002 alone 41 urban
poor families in Metro Manila were physically displaced from their homes
Lacson proposes to deal with agriculture issues in rural areas to address the
roots of urban migration.
candidates promise to expand Phil Health’s coverage. Arroyo and Villanueva vow
to continue the cheap importation of drugs from India. Roco proposes to support
the export of health workers. Villanueva bats for a policy that will encourage
the urban poor to plant vegetable plots. Lacson wants to promote birth control
and FPJ proposes the privatization of major government hospitals.
of the candidates however addresses the dismal state of our health care system,
which is virtually inaccessible to the poor and those in remote areas due to
lack of funding. They also do not recognize the need to improve the working
conditions and salaries of medical workers to discourage them from going abroad
so that their skills and knowledge can be used where they are most badly needed,
here in the Philippines.
Prices of Oil, Water and Electricity
Lacson and Arroyo who co-authored the EPIRA, candidates FPJ and Villanueva call
for a review of contracts with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with the aim
of protecting consumers and bringing down electricity rates. Yet none of the
candidates’ platforms contains concrete action to reverse the various onerous
charges of Meralco, Maynilad and major oil companies.
the promises to improve the access and quality of social services will remain
empty unless they are coupled with measures to dramatically reform budget
spending to prioritize social services.
and Lacson openly support the proposal for charter change to a parliamentary
system of government in order to achieve “greater economic prosperity.”
Villanueva says he is supportive of a parliamentary form of government but calls
for public consultations on the issue. FPJ and Roco also call for public
consultations while Roco qualifies that it should not be an issue to decide
during the elections.
one among them condemns the proposal for charter change, which the U.S. is
pushing for since it proposes to allow 100% foreign ownership of land and local
National Security and Peace Issues
candidates vow to deal with the nation’s peace and order situation by
launching anti-crime and anti-terror initiatives in the country. Lacson and
Arroyo have proven through practice and promise to deal with these problems with
a heavy hand. Both have been pushing for the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism
Bill and for a National Identification System. Indeed, Lacson (who was head of
the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission accused of rubbing out suspected
kidnappers in the Kuratong Baleleng case) and Arroyo (whose record on human
rights abuses from 2001 to 2003 numbered 2, 961 according to Karapatan) leave
Filipinos wary of what they can expect under their administration’s rule.
Arroyo has also been a vocal supporter of the U.S. led “war on terrorism.”
is the only candidate vocally against the Anti-Terrorism Bill and National ID
System. He says the bills may lead to more violations of human rights.
the issue of peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Front (MILF) and the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), all candidates call for a
continuation of the formal peace process.
after calling off the talks in 2002 and pushing for an omnibus Final Peace
Agreement, in total disregard of previous agreements entered into between the
GRP and the NDFP, suddenly resumed interest in pursuing the peace talks with the
NDFP late last year. (This mysteriously coincided with her announcement that she
would run in the 2004 elections.)
talks took place last October and March in Oslo, Norway. Agreements were reached
to release 32 political prisoners and taking measures to resolve the issue of
the U.S., E.U, Australian and Canadian labeling the CPP-NPA and of NDFP chief
political consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison as “foreign terrorists.” The CPP
and NDFP however questioned Arroyo’s sincerity in pursuing the peace talks
with the recent call of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales for the
disqualification of party-lists namely, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela
Women’s Party, Anak ng Bayan, Migrante, and the Suara Bangmasa Moro Party on
the unsubstantiated accusations that these are communist fronts.
while calling for peace talks says the CPP-NPA leadership should be isolated
from its mass base.
proposes to accelerate the peace process. He promises to, “reach out to
anti-government armed groups and engage in genuine dialogue to hear their
concerns and issues and come up with mutually acceptable arrangements for them
to return to the fold of the law.” (This essentially translates into
surrender.) He also vows to, “invigorate the country’s participation in the
global campaign versus terrorism,” a statement which if left open-ended could
be threatening to democratic rights.
who claims to be a former Marxist turned born-again Christian says that credible
leadership can resolve the insurgency and that one needs to address and uproot
poverty and injustice as a means to peace.
is the only candidate vocally against U.S. intervention in the Philippines. As a
senator Roco was also against US military bases and the Visiting Forces
is also the only candidate who condemns the U.S. and other nations’ terrorist
tagging of the CPP-NPA.
is good for our American friends not to condemn any part of the political
opposition in the country as terrorists,” Roco was quoted by media outlets as
having said at a press conference last February in Iloilo City.
CPP-NPA, in many people's view, does not represent the terrorism of mindless
attacks on innocent people,” Roco said in a statement to the media.
closer study of the five presidential candidates’ platforms shows that they
are fundamentally no different from one another. The question also remains
whether these are realistic and whether they will have the political will and
sincerity to implement the positive aspects of their platforms.
the candidates are so desperately trying to win “pogi points” by pleasing
all sides, generally they choose to play safe. Thus their platforms remain
ambiguous and lack any significant weight. One can then expect that once the new
president is elected, he or she will still represent and maintain the interest
of the elite over those of the majority.
can also conclude from an analysis of the state of the nation under three years
of the Arroyo administration is that she is far from, “still the last best
hope.” Those who are looking for a change may take a closer look at the
progressive aspects of the platforms of Roco, Villanueva and FPJ.
the end, the Filipino people may still push for progressive reforms through the
electoral process. Yet they also know that is in only through their collective
action (inside and outside of the electoral process) that will result in any
substantial and genuine change. With
Rhea de los Santos and Joseph Yu/Reposted
de Castro Jr., Isagani, “Da King’s Campaign Generals,” Newsbreak
magazine, Feb. 16, 2004
Booma Cruz , “The Actor is the Message,” Newsbreak magazine, Feb.
Website of Bangon Pilipinas political party: http://www.bangonpilipnas.org
Website of Fernando Poe Jr.: http://www.fpj2004.com.ph/
Website of Ping Lacson: http://www.pinglacson.ph/
Website of Raul Roco: http://www.raulroco.com/
Website of the Senate of the Philippines: http://www.senate.gov.ph/
Website of Ping Lacson: http://www.888.ph/
Rivera, Blanche, “Bro. Eddie: From activist to preacher to
president?,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec. 21, 2003
Villanueva, Eduardo, “Responses to questions from PMC,” Feb. 25,
Lacson, Ping, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb.22,2004
Villanueva, Eduardo, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Poe, Fernando Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer
Businessworld, March 29, 2004, pg. 2
Reuters, AFP and Carina I. Roncesvalles, “Government, communist
rebels agree on release of 32 prisoners,” Businessworld, Monday, April 5,
2004, pg. 12
Presidential Management Staff, “Briefing paper for IBON Facts and
Figures,” March 2004
“Roco wants CPP-NPA
removed from terror list,” INQ.7, Feb. 24, 2004
“Notes on the
P864.8-billion national budget for 2004,” Compiled by the office of Bayan
Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, Nov. 21, 2003
Martin, “Election 2004: Prospects for the People,” PMC Reports, December,
“Walang Ilusyon sa Eleksyon:
Praymer sa Eleksyon ng Mayo 2004,” Manila: Institute of Political
Economy, February 2004
INQ.7net election pages
want to know what you think of this article.