Abolish it, now!

THIS IS NOT the first column to be written on this matter and I bet this is not to be the last.  The clamor for the abolition of the Sanguniang Kabataan crops up every so often and intensifies before barangay elections, but alas, the SK has stayed and hanged on like sticky phlegm lingering on the nation’s throat.  I say this is the right time to cough it out, given a president who is sincere in cleaning up the government bureaucracy.

Nothing has done more damage to the Filipino youth’s political education and participation more than the SK.  The structure was meant to give young people, who make up a big chunk of the country’s population, the opportunity to contribute to nation building.  It was envisioned to be a breeding ground for future leaders, an avenue for youth empowerment.

But it has, dear karikna, disappointed, and disappointed us big time.

What youth empowerment do we see when most SK programs are merely confined to the staging of cheesy Mr. and Ms. SK events, holding of basketball leagues, construction of basketball courts and waiting sheds, and clean and green photo-operations where they would sweep the streets, plant a couple of seedlings, and pose in front of cameras as if they have reverted climate change?

Occasionally, there are some innovations.  In Laoag City last February, the SK Federation held one of their biggest activities—a mixed martial arts event described by witnesses as “bloody and fierce”.  It was dubbed “Suntukan sa Laoag”.

For doing just these things in addition to attending sessions where they are usually benchwarmers and sleepyheads if not perennial absentees, SK officials receive monthly honoraria and other emoluments, privileges and benefits, even free tuition fees in state universities. Continue reading “Abolish it, now!”

The better Kris

KRIS—the better Kris, the sincere Kris, the brilliant Kris, the wonder boy, my valued friend—did not make the cut for the congressional race.

    He fought the good fight, but the people chose someone, and it’s not him. We should see Kris Ablan again in the public sphere. It would be a very big injustice to good government if he does not come back.

200

That, dear karikna, is not the number of yellow shirts I have purchased.  I surmise not even Noynoy Aquino has that many in his wardrobe. Two hundred pesos is the current rate in the vote-buying operations for the first congressional seat in this province.  I have firsthand information that two of the strongest contenders for the post have started special operations as early as the first week of April.

With a strong grip of barangays in Laoag City, one candidate operates through barangay officials who hold a list of registered voters for each household.  Upon payment, a recipient is asked to sign beside his/her name.

Another candidate, who promises a fresh brand of politics, seems to find difficulty veering away from the dark shadows of his old man.  His camp, however, has a more legal way of doing things.  They give allowances of two hundred pesos to every volunteer.  This seems acceptable because candidates really have to take care of their volunteers.  The problem is that just anyone and everyone can be a part of their payroll.  All that you have to do is go to their headquarters and fill out a form.  The result:  some barangays would have hundred, if not thousands, of barangay coordinators.  If this is not circumvention of the law, what is?  Same pig, different collar.

While it does not shock me anymore that this happens in every nook and corner of the archipelago, it disturbs me that it’s not only the poor who accept dirty money from politicians.  Almost everyone now does, and this includes my friends who are professionals, and even those who live comfortable lives.  God, I even have friends who are involved with the election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting who admit to ‘selling’ their votes. Continue reading “200”

AY Tungpalan: ‘Legal Thieves’

(The following is a most worthy contribution from Prof. Andres Y. Tungpalan, president of the Federation of Government Employees Associations in Region I. He is also immediate past president of the Philippine National Confederation of Faculty Associations of State Universities and Colleges. He is currently administrative officer of Mariano Marcos State University.  Read on.)

MAN IS BORNE basically out of nothing, but his ingenuity and the dictates of the environment made him aspire for honor, prestige, and, most of all, the material world.

As the election fever yet again turns up within the corner, people aspiring for power, again, can steal the minds and thoughts of the people through the radiance of money and promises, hence, the canny and once munificent and affluent can take again the power and be capable of legitimizing their corrupt practices to perpetuate their unrelenting thirst for power.

Looking at the present scenario, anyone in the society, even the unschooled people, could attest that money alone can buy power but not intellectual capacity, which is supposed to be the dictum. No wonder, political dynasty is a dream that perpetuates to date, not unless a radical transformation of the mind and culture ensues to avert this scenario. In this society, the well-off people are privileged to have access to power and provide overriding authority to illegally acquired wealth and possessions that fuel the authority to monopolize the resources of this country.

Many have been written about some of our legislators and local leaders: how they enrich themselves through illegal means. The CDF derived through taxes of the poor were legally obtained and transfused to their personal accounts through scheming means. Yet, though we declare this a taboo, the practice persists, and has become alluring. Continue reading “AY Tungpalan: ‘Legal Thieves’”

Seeing through the poverty line

(This is an article written by Stanley Palisada of ABS-CBN.  Your karikna was interviewed as one of six resource persons across the nation.)

MANY FILIPINOS are really sick and tired of being poor in pocket, in spirit and in association. Presidential aspirants spouting off promises to end poverty should think twice about using campaign lines that patronize Filipino misery. To a growing number of voters, such a campaign is insulting and debasing, to say the least.

Beyond sympathy for the poor or association with poverty, provincial voters now look for substance from their candidates.

“Think twice,” says U.P. Visayas Political Science Professor Joseph Loot, who believes promises to ease poverty and coming up with concrete solutions to eradicate poverty are like night and day and provincial voters know the difference.

“Our candidates just keep filibustering on poverty but they are not acting on it,” says Loot. “None of the presidential or vice presidential candidates have really addressed it.”

Although we have not fully matured as an electorate, it now takes more than a promise to end poverty to get the votes. Poverty as a campaign thrust may even be a futile advertising exercise because voters already know that many of today’s presidential aspirants do not have a track record of alleviating poverty while they were senators or congressmen. “We’re basically looking at the same dogs wearing different collars,” says Loot.

Candidates have to come up with a better campaign line, especially those seeking re-election or aspiring for the presidency. Whatever it is– it should be refreshing and unique, if they are to spark renewed interest among the provincial electorate. Continue reading “Seeing through the poverty line”

Eloquent Rudy, idealistic Kris, and confused Atong

(L-R) Rudy Fariñas, Kris Ablan, and Atong Peralta photos by Czaryna Zai Mari

I WANTED Teteng Sales to be in the forum sponsored by student journalists of the Divine Word College of Laoag last Feb. 24. The former Pagudpud mayor, who claims he won the congressional race in 2007 over incumbent Roque Ablan Jr., intrigues me. I know so little about his position on issues, and I wanted to validate the general impression that he is an intellectual lightweight.

Apparently, however, he ignored the invitation to the event, the first congressional forum to happen in the province after the filing of certificates of candidacy. According to organizers, Teteng’s camp received the letter of invitation, and no less than his wife Maja was informed of the undertaking, but that they never sent a word, which is worse than begging off.

Former Sarrat Mayor Chito Ruiz was also unable to attend as he was in Manila, but his staff took time to convey the candidate’s regrets.

There was another congressional forum that was supposed to transpire last Feb. 26, the Anti-Kadiri Movement’s Congressional Hour. It was postponed, however, because Gibo’s visit to the province on that day made some personalities unavailable. Leaders of this anti-trapo movement say Teteng has also been ignored them.

This is sad, dear karikna, because candidates owe it to us, the voting public, to explain their stands on matters of public concern. Teteng’s popularity in the past was mainly due to the people’s tiredness of the old Ablan, a traditional politician who has been a fixture in the local political scene for decades. I say this will no longer be enough political capital for Teteng as he now faces four other candidates: Ruiz, Former Congressman/Governor Rudy Fariñas, Board Member Atong Peralta, and Ablan’s son Kris.

Rudy Fariñas was in his usual element. He was eloquent and sharp, an observation shared by Prof. Fides Bitanga, forum moderator. Continue reading “Eloquent Rudy, idealistic Kris, and confused Atong”

Congressional Forum unfolds

THE WILLIAMITE, official publication of Divine Word College of Laoag (DWCL), is holding a congressional forum for contenders in the first district on Feb. 24, Wednesday.  All five candidates—Kris Ablan, Rudy Fariñas, Atong Peralta, Chito Ruiz, and Teteng Sales are expected to participate in this event that will give student leaders, student journalists, professors from different universities in the province, representatives from various sectors, and the general public a chance to discuss salient issues with the contenders.

Only 500 persons can be accommodated at the venue, the newly-opened St. Joseph’s Audtorium at DWCL, so better to make seat reservations should you decide to come.  Contact Jaime Lao, The Williamite’s editor in chief at 09293051987.

Hope you could come, dear karikna, but, if you couldn’t, what questions would you have wanted to ask the candidates?

Politicos should learn from this labandera’s son

Supporters take dela Cruz to a 'victory ride'

HE HAD NO party, no posters, no leaflets, but Jonas Paul B. dela Cruz, a third year Civil engineering student, grabbed an overwhelming win over his three rivals in the Central Student Council (CSC) presidential race at MMSU.

Garnering around one half of the near seven thousand total votes cast in the CSC elections held Feb. 4, Dela Cruz reigned the tabulation boards in most precincts. Aside from his landslide victory at the College of Engineering, his home, where he obtained seventy six percent of the votes, he also won big in other colleges and units.

Seventy-five percent of the total population participated in the polls considered a breakthrough in the history of campus politics for having the most number of political parties and candidates vying for various posts.

Dela Cruz’ closest rival, Bryan A. Corpuz of The 2010 Party, got a 25-percent share of the votes. Gevy Ann R. Villanueva of Tindig MMSU and Reynald Theodore C. Teodoro of Anak ng MMSU had 15 and 12 percent, respectively.

Overwhelmed, Dela Cruz cannot believe the results. He relates that when he filed his candidacy as an independent, some people dismissed him as a nuisance candidate. He said he pursued his candidacy anyway because “students deserve an alternative to politics-as-usual.”

Dela Cruz instantly rose from obscurity to fame when he delivered very heartwarming speeches at campaign rallies. He began by talking about his life, which some listeners described as “pang-Maala-ala mo kaya,” referring to a popular true-to-life drama show on television. Continue reading “Politicos should learn from this labandera’s son”

Utang na Loob

ELECTION PERODS are always of great interest to social observers. The ballot reflects the people’s frame of mind, their values, their hopes and fears, and even their resignation to fate. What candidates do to win votes also tells a lot about the level of our political maturity.

Observing elections in the Philippines is both exciting and frustrating. Exciting because, by and at large, campaigns are run like a circus, but frustrating, too, because we observe how painfully slow we move, if at all, towards clean, honest, credible, and enlightened elections.

Ilocos Norte politics is sizzling hot at this time, what with two Marcoses gunning for the gubernatorial post.

Former 2nd District Representative Imee Marcos, daughter of the late president, is up against her cousin, incumbent governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK).

The Imee camp is reportedly raising the issue of “Utang na Loob” against MMK, who previously enjoyed the support of the Marcoses, especially in 2007 when he ran for and won the governor’s post previously held by now congressman Bongbong Marcos, who is running for a senate seat. Continue reading “Utang na Loob”

Brilliant Neric, dull Noynoy

Your karikna with teacher Neric Acosta (middle), and Steve Barreiro

AT THE END of my work week, I usually drop by Goro’s in Batac (City, finally!), all by my lonesome, and enjoy a bottle of beer or two before going home to Laoag. And that’s what I exactly did in the afternoon of December 29, the last working day of 2009.

I was halfway through my first bottle of SanMig Light when I received a phone call from fellow columnist Steve Barreiro. He asked me if I have time to meet someone I would surely find interesting. “He is a teacher like you,” Steve said, “and he is a senatoriable.”

Good old Steve was referring to Liberal Party’s Neric Acosta who was in town to grace the Damili festival of San Nicolas from where the latter traces his paternal roots. Of course, I know the guy. “Yes, I am coming,” I told Steve, although it was a half-hearted yes because I did not want to abruptly end my weekly date with myself. Continue reading “Brilliant Neric, dull Noynoy”