Archive for June, 2009

More Filipino teachers off to jobs abroad

Posted in education with tags on June 28, 2009 by MASP

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:03:00 06/26/2009 Filed Under: Overseas Employment, Education, Philippines – Regions

MANILA, Philippines—The exodus of Filipino teachers to other countries is expected to continue in the coming years, according to a labor group.

The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) said on Wednesday two places were the likely magnets for Filipino teachers—the United States, which would need two million teachers in the coming decade, and Arab countries, which would need at least 450,000 teachers.

The group said teacher shortages, growing populations, and expanding educational systems in many other countries coupled with the dismal work conditions and salaries at home could push local teachers to go abroad.

“Demand for teachers across the United States continues to remain high even if the North American country’s economy is in a deep recession,” said Annie Enriquez-Geron, PSLINK general secretary.

“There are estimates that the United States will need to employ an additional two million teachers in the coming decade to maintain its current educational standards and closer to three million if it strives to improve them in order to stay globally competitive,” she added.

Geron said more than 10,000 foreign teachers are recruited by the United States every year to fill its demand.

“There is also very high demand for new science and math teachers in the US with estimates by the Business-Higher Education Forum in Washington putting the figure at 200,000 at the least,” she added.

In the last 10 years, around 4,000 Filipino teachers—mostly math, science, English, and special education teachers—left the country. This figure included only new hires for teaching jobs and did not include those who left the country for work other than teaching, the paper said.

The top destinations were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the paper added.

According to a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) study, Geron said, the Arab states will face “the greatest teacher shortage in the drive to provide every child with a primary education by 2015 as the region will need to raise the current stock by 26 percent and create another 450,000 teaching posts in less than a decade.”

“As more developed countries face a graying workforce, they are increasingly resorting to the recruitment of skilled teachers from less developed countries. This phenomenon had already been foreseen by (European) countries since the ’90s, warning that aging teaching forces may eventually lead to shortages,” Geron said.

“For instance, more than 60 percent of all primary teachers are over 40 years of age in Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands; and more than 40 percent are over 50 years old in Germany and Sweden,” she said.

Geron said another factor contributing to teacher shortages in more developed countries was the declining interest of their nationals in entering the teaching profession.

According to a survey conducted by the temporary staffing agency Manpower Inc., teaching is the second hardest job to fill in the US. Many of their nationals, the study said, would rather pursue other more financially rewarding careers than become a teacher. Low salary and unattractive working conditions were often cited as reasons not to enter the teaching profession, Geron said. (But for a teacher from a developing nation, salaries would still be significantly more than what they earn at home.)

“Unfortunately, instead of addressing employment conditions of the teaching sector, governments of more developed countries are finding it more convenient and economical to recruit migrant workers, many of whom are offered lower pay and contractual jobs that deprived them of their due benefits,” she added.

Geron said the dependence on migrant skilled teachers in developed countries was leading to aggressive recruitment strategies by their governments, recruitment agencies, and the private schools themselves.

“There have even been governments which have created special agencies just to recruit teachers from other countries. Private teacher recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom have mushroomed to more than 100 while there are more or less 70 in the United States,” she added.#

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090626-212534/More-Filipino-teachers-off-to-jobs-abroad

The Dilemmas and Tasks of New Politics* (Prof. Randy David’s speech in the AKBAYAN 10th Anniversary forum)

Posted in politics with tags on June 27, 2009 by MASP
rdavid for congressmanThe Dilemmas and Tasks of New Politics*
Randy David

Taos-pusong pagbati sa ating lahat sa ika-sampung anibersaryo ng Akbayan. Sa mga panahong tulad ng kasalukuyan, maituturing nang isang malaking tagumpay para sa isang party-list group na manatiling tapat sa kaniyang mga simulain, at makapagdiwang ng isang dekada ng pag-iral. Hindi biro ang mga pagsubok na dinaanan ng Akbayan. At di na marahil kailangan pang sabihin na lalong hindi biro ang mga hamong haharapin nito sa mga susunod pang sampung taon. Ang pananatili ng isang bagong partidong ideyolohikal na tulad ng Akbayan ay isang imposibilidad na maaari lamang isagawa bilang bahagi ng isang malakas at kolektibong pagkukusa – “a collective act of will.” Nais kong paksain ang bagay na ito ngayong umaga.
The paradox of new politics is that, in theory, it is perhaps the only type of politics that can offer us any hope of survival in the modern world. And yet, at the same time, in a transitional society like ours, its practice seems to offer little promise or meaning unless it compromises with traditional politics, or plays second fiddle to revolutionary politics.

To make this point clearer, let us go into some preliminary definitions.

We can distinguish the various forms of politics by their goals and methods.

Traditional politics aims to preserve the existing order of society — its inherited hierarchies, and inviolable norms — as signified by the unexamined fixation with the rule of law. Its methods are well-known – the fostering of dependence and patronage through the exploitation of customary norms like utang na loob or debt of gratitude, elitist paternalistic rule that combines benevolence with calibrated intimidation, obsession with consensus and disdain for free debate, the unaccountable disposition of public wealth, and the unchecked exercise of public power.

At the other end of the spectrum, revolutionary politics dreams of completely overhauling the existing social order through the imposition of a new political-legal order that seeks to regulate nearly every aspect of social life. The emphasis, almost invariably, is the creation of a strong State as an overarching mechanism of utopian societal engineering, of economic growth, and of social redistribution. Its accompanying methods are equally well-known: armed struggle and/or the capture or enlistment of the armed forces of the existing State, revolutionary upheaval, full deployment of the State’s security forces to crush dissent at least in the immediate period following the seizure of power, and the excessive reliance on the regulatory powers of the State to maintain societal stability.

In contrast to these two poles, new politics aims to reform institutions and revise existing routines and procedures in accordance with the demands and pressures for change that are already manifest in society, careful not to embark on comprehensive programs of transformation that cannot be sustained by the existing objective conditions. Its thrust is thus more evolutionary than revolutionary, more to strengthen the foundations on which to build the new, than to invent something new from nothing. Its immediate objective is to end mass poverty and public ignorance as a condition for the progressive democratization and modernization of society. Its favored instruments are: non-violent resistance through the creation of autonomous social movements and people’s organizations, the formation of self-sustaining electoral parties with clear ideologies and programs, debates and open fora in mass media, social critique, mass mobilizations centering on clear-minded advocacies, and community organizing for popular empowerment at all levels of society.

In all transitional situations, the problem has always been how to build something different from what already exists, while avoiding assimilation by conservative forces. Herein lies the paradox of new politics. The temptation to make peace with the old order is very strong because of the perks and resources being offered by the latter. Similarly, the temptation to adopt the romantic promise of revolutionary politics remains potent because of the moral and ideological purity it seems to represent.

I am aware of the danger of extrapolating new norms of practice from ideal-type definitions like these. Reality is extremely complex and dynamic. Changes in social conditions accumulate faster than our ability to grasp or describe them in ways that allow us to move forward. The dilemmas to which I refer here can be seen in the practical day-to-day problems faced by individuals who have taken upon themselves the role of new politicians and have actually won public positions. Much can be learned from the situations they have had to deal with once they assumed power.

As a case in point, I wish to share with you my preliminary analysis of the situation that the priest-turned-politician, Gov. Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, has had to contend with from day one of his term. I believe that Among Ed’s predicament gives us a fairly good idea of the fate that awaits new politics in a transitional society like ours.

Let me start by saying that every political system in its current state has its own code of morality, its own mode of legitimation, its own acceptable procedures for settling disputes and using power, its own routines and standard communications – all of which are rooted in the structural principles of the society in which it is embedded. Traditional politics, as I have characterized it here, thrives in highly stratified societies based on unequal distribution of life chances. Here, political roles tend to be integrated into networks and layers of of patron-client relationships.

Societies undergoing the wrenching transition to modernity are witnessing the gradual collapse of these hierarchies. But the collapse does not automatically lead to democratization; in many instances, it only paves the way for the entry of new forces based on different value systems. For example, the exit of landed families from the political stage has not paved the way for the entry of professional politicians from modern political parties. It has only created space for moneyed individuals like jueteng lords created by a gambling economy, or celebrities projected by the modern mass media. In some societies, the demise of military rule did not spell the end of authoritarianism; it only paved the way for the entry of new authoritarian leaders riding on the crest of religious fundamentalism. Clearly, the transition to political modernity can be intercepted by new forms of authoritarian rule. This is what can happen in situations where the remnants of a beleaguered traditional order attempt to salvage their rule by establishing a national security State that is justified by the war on terrorism – a scenario that is slowly emerging in our country.

Among Ed Panlilio was thrust into the position of governor in a province that had already made the transition from rule by the landed elite to rule by the new moneyed elite – the gambling lords and the movie celebrities. This transition was shallow however. It did not change the rules and methods of traditional politics; it only recruited new players. It was to this political reality that the educated middle classes of Pampanga were reacting when they launched a campaign to oppose the candidacies of both Lilia Pineda, wife of the reputed jueteng lord Bong Pineda, and Mark Lapid, the movie-actor son of the movie celebrity and now senator Lito Lapid. In their despair, they searched for a moral figure who could symbolize the quest for good governance, on the premise that the corruption in the governance of the province was due in large measure to the moral weakness of previous governors. Both Lapid and Pineda were known to be staunch allies of President Arroyo, and it would have been logical to find somebody who was not just anti-Pineda and anti-Lapid but also anti-Arroyo. But Pampanga’s middle classes chose to be blind in their assessment of the presidency of their cabalen, Mrs. Arroyo. It became politically convenient, as a result, to find an apolitical alternative. Among Ed fitted that important criterion very well. As a parish priest, he was a moral shepherd, active in the social projects of the province but inactive, or at least perceived to be neutral, insofar as national politics was concerned. This made him a viable third candidate, a dark horse in a desperate political landscape.

The quixotic nature of his entry into Pampanga’s politics – running without a party and without a slate – made Among Ed, the parish priest, a natural magnet for those who could only think of a moral solution to the province’s manifold problems. It was an uphill and lopsided battle but the dark horse won by the slimmest margin over the wife of Bong Pineda. The votes were split three-ways, a phenomenon that ultimately worked for Among Ed.

Given the extraordinary circumstances that attended Among Ed’s heroic victory, it is easy to overestimate the value of moral ascendancy in politics and to overlook the dynamics of the existing political culture. Among Ed’s religious identity proved to be a successful vehicle in the quest for the highest post in the provincial government, but it has failed to work the same miracle in governance itself. Indeed, one can even say that he and his team became captives of the moral rhetoric that allowed them to launch an effective campaign. He is governor but he is unable to govern. He has to contend the other elected officials of the province – the barangay captains, the town councilors and mayors, and the members of the provincial board. He has to find a way to work with these public officials – who were on the “wrong” side of the moral-political divide in the last election.

The political realities of the province have quickly caught up with the new governor. His being a priest has given him an edge in dealing with his fellow public officials, but it has not elicited for him the same deference it commands when dealing with a parish. The provincial board, acting as a provincial legislative body, has refused to confirm the appointments he has made. They have failed to pass the budget of the province. He could not get projects done at the level of the municipalities because of the non-cooperation or outright hostility of the mayors. About the only ally he seems to be able to count on is the mayor of the capital town San Fernando , Oscar Rodriguez. The groups that spontaneously got together, worked, and spent for his campaign are not part of an organized political force, nor have they been formed into one. Indeed some of them have begun to express disenchantment at the slow pace of the reform process and the confusion that seems to attend the affairs of the governor’s office. One can imagine how much this depresses Among Ed, and he has been in office for only six months.

Here then is a new politician with a vision, who, against all expectations, has won a position. If he wishes to govern and make limited use of the prerogatives of his office in order to serve the people of Pampanga, notably the poor, he must get the support, no matter how grudging, of the other public officials – who, not surprisingly, were all elected according to the same old norms of political patronage. They want to get their hands on the resources of patronage on which their political roles feed. Among Ed has refused to release any public money to their persons because of his firm commitment to institutional and accountable governance. As a result, all their recent moves have been focused on removing from the governor’s office the powers of disbursement.

Two choices are immediately open to Among Ed. First, he can adopt a flexible approach and try very hard to work within the existing political realities. He can remind himself of the original definition of politics – i.e. the art of compromise. He can give in to the demands of the trapos, in exchange for support on the programs that matter to him – without any illusion that he can reform their ways. I call this political realism.

Or, he can wage a war of attrition against the old political culture and the individuals that defend it at every turn, risking a permanent political stalemate till the end of his 3-year term. In this, he can surely count on the support of the national media, like the Inquirer which has championed his heroic cause. If he chooses this path, he will surely be crucified by his antagonists in Pampanga, but in so doing he may succeed in catalyzing the formation of a nationwide citizen’s movement to end the reign of traditional politics. I would call this political idealism.

Whether Among Ed chooses the first or the second path, a clear-minded political activist might remind him at once about the necessity of organizing a stable political constituency that can push forward through the electoral process the cause of enduring social reform. The moral shepherd has to become a modern professional politician. This is not going to be easy in a culture that has fostered a great dependence on politicians yet at the same time has ironically cultivated a deep cynicism for politics. Our perpetual search for messiahs and charismatic leaders betrays a misunderstanding of the requirements of modern politics. Stuck in the vague generalities of moral language, we do not understand what it means to make use of the ways of politics to reform society.

I want to be clear about what I mean by this. To politically organize our people does not mean just being able to herd them for mass actions and street mobilizations. It means rather tapping and strengthening their will to participate in governance by providing them with the skills necessary for modern politics – i.e., to be able to manage town hall meetings at every level of the polity, to be able to speak intelligently about issues and policies, to be able to make decisions, and draw systematic plans and programs. In short, everything that has to do with the formation of political leaders suitable to a modern democracy. Max Weber’s advice to his fellow Germans at the turn of the 20th century is appropriate to our own time: “Only the orderly guidance of the masses by responsible politicians can break the irregular rule of the street and the leadership of demagogues of the moment.” (p. 395, From Max Weber, 1970)

Just as I cannot presume to tell Among Ed which path he should take, I will not presume to tell Akbayan how it should conduct itself in the next ten years. But one thing is important – no matter which direction we choose, we must be clear about our goals. We must be clear about the measure of our success. We must continue attracting and organizing others around our goals, and we must ask ourselves constantly whether we are making any progress on these goals – without ever forgetting that the first objective of an electoral party is to get elected. Finally, let me say in closing it would do us no harm if we learned to pause every now and then, if only to ask how this whole experience is changing us and what else we need to do in order to become what we set out to be – truly a party of hope.#

Gloria’s Power Grab

Posted in politics with tags , on June 27, 2009 by MASP

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124560456128134971.html

The Philippine president will not leave office quietly.

By BRETT M. DECKER | FROM TODAY’S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is a lame duck struggling to stay afloat. With less than a year left in her constitutionally mandated last term, national politics is dominated by next May’s election and the president’s efforts to cling to power. In the meantime, policy efforts to address the country’s myriad problems are at a standstill.

Ms. Arroyo’s latest gambit is to run for her son’s congressional seat when her presidential term expires next year. Members of her cabinet have openly advocated this plan, and her son Mikey has said he would consider running for governor of their home province of Pampanga if Ms. Arroyo chooses this path. Last Monday, the Commission on Elections declared that there is no legal barrier preventing a former president from running for Congress.

There is only one reason why this sitting head of state — who previously served as vice president, a cabinet secretary and in the Senate — would be interested in a comparably lowly seat in the House of Representatives. She is angling to be prime minister in a restructured government composed of a unicameral parliament. Reformists assert that two contending chambers make the legislative process too slow, and the Philippines needs to implement fast-paced change that would be eased by removing gridlock caused by the inert Senate. The Philippine government currently is based on the U.S. presidential system with a bicameral legislature, so this conversion would require rewriting the constitutional charter.

For Ms. Arroyo and her supporters, maintaining power is not just about keeping the pork and perks of office. It’s a matter of survival. The leading contenders for the presidency all have said they will investigate rampant corruption in the Arroyo administration if elected. This poses an existential threat to Ms. Arroyo and her family, especially if the opposition wins. It has not been forgotten that the Arroyo administration put her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, in prison after he was overthrown, although she later pardoned him. Mr. Estrada is still one of the most popular figures in the Philippines; his many supporters have been waiting a decade for revenge for his ouster and seven-year incarceration.

It might sound implausible that the nation’s form of government could be altered to suit the president’s demand for power, but there is a precedent for such an action. Former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and suspended Congress in 1972, only to reopen the legislature as a unicameral parliament in 1978. At that time, he added the title prime minister to his previous position as president.

It’s ironic that Ms. Arroyo is pursuing the Marcos model because the authoritarian leader beat her father, Diosdado Macapagal, in the 1965 presidential race. There are many similarities between the Philippines today and the status of the country 44 years ago: the economy was in decline; corruption hobbled government; and national security was threatened by Muslim insurrection in the southern islands and armed Communist revolution in the mountains.

Mr. Marcos defeated Mr. Macapagal’s bid for reelection because the latter was perceived to be an ineffectual leader in a period of crisis. Today, the position of President Arroyo’s advisers is that the country is too unstable for a transition. There have been discussions at Malacanang presidential palace about the possibility of declaring a state of emergency to delay elections and thus stall Ms. Arroyo’s departure from office. One longtime Arroyo insider told me the main reservation is that administration officials are not sure they can pull it off.

It would be a risky strategem. Ms. Arroyo may not have a strong enough hold on power to declare and enforce a state of emergency. The public sends mixed signals. Street protests against the administration are routine, but voter apathy is a more prevalent national trait than serious opposition. Perhaps most important, Ms. Arroyo is backed by the military command structure. The support of the generals composed the balance of power that was necessary to oust President Estrada and install Ms. Arroyo in his place in 2001.

Changing the constitutional charter is a safer route to maintain power than declaring a state of emergency because it would instigate less public outrage. A constitutional assembly offers the veneer of legislative legitimacy, and a workable strategy to secure charter change has been crafted over the past few years. A little over two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to convene a constitutional assembly to work toward charter change. A three-fourths majority vote is needed to amend the constitution. House leaders are pushing to hold that vote next month.

There is disagreement over the makeup of that vote. Senators, who overwhelmingly oppose parliamentary change since it would abolish their chamber, argue that separate three-quarter votes are necessary in the House and Senate. House leaders maintain that the tally required comes from a joint session of both chambers. This view is convenient because the margin in the House might be large enough for passage over the opposition of a majority of senators. In any case, the dispute is likely to go to the Supreme Court, where 11 of the 13 sitting justices were appointed by Ms. Arroyo.

The president solidified her hold on the House of Representatives through patronage politics. As Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas, a former member of the Arroyo cabinet and frontrunner to win the presidency next year if elections are held, explains, “The system created by the Arroyo administration has made corruption, official opacity and the dole-out culture almost endemic at all levels.” At one notorious meeting a few years ago, legislators were photographed leaving Malacanang presidential palace with shopping bags full of cash. The palace also allocates “countrywide development funds,” pork-barrel money that individual congressmen can direct as they see fit.

According to a poll released June 11 by Manila-based Social Weather Stations, only 31% of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed believe that Ms. Arroyo intends to step down in 2010 when her term is up. Staying in power may be the only way Ms. Arroyo can stay out of jail. The president is a political survivor who has beaten back numerous attempts to unseat her, so anything is possible. But whether through the bayonet or charter change, subverting next year’s presidential elections would set back the maturation process of the Philippines‘ fragile democratic institutions.#

Mr. Decker, a former editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Asia, is managing editor of the Opinion pages at the Washington Times and author of “Global Filipino” (Regnery, 2008).

AKBAYAN Party welcomes ‘David vs. Gloriath’ fight

Posted in nation, politics with tags , on June 26, 2009 by MASP

Friday, 26 June 2009 07:22

AKBAYAN Party announced today that it supports the decision of AKBAYAN Executive Committee member and UP Professor Randy David to run against GMA in Pampanga’s second district.

“We have been convincing him to run for national office, but ‘David vs. Gloriath’ is a grander, nobler fight,” AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros said. “AKBAYAN is 100% behind Randy David, and I, along with AKBAYAN Representative Walden Bello, will personally campaign for Randy.”

She said that David’s announcement has made GMA’s congressional candidacy in Pampanga a national referendum.

“Randy David is a symbol of honor and dignity among Filipinos. The Arroyos may have the machinery and money to clinch a congressional in Pampanga, but Randy’s campaign captures the hearts and minds of Filipinos yearning for integrity and credibility in politics and governance. This won’t be a walk in the park for the Arroyos, and Randy won’t make it easy for them to fool the nation again,” Rep. Hontiveros said.

She is confident that David would get the backing of Pampanga voters.

“In 2007, Pampangueños have shown that they can defeat the politics of greed and coercion by electing Among Ed. In 2010, GMA’s defeat would be Pampanga’s gift to the nation, and it’ll prove that not all is lost, that we can still hope,” Rep. Hontiveros said. “We fully believe that Pampagueños and Randy will give GMA the whopping defeat that she deserves.”

“Randy’s candidacy has made this fight not about personalities, but about our values as a nation. We can’t let GMA squander our future. She should be put in jail, and not in Congress. What we need in Congress are people like Randy,” she added.

Rep. Hontiveros expects a transformative, grassroots-led campaign for Randy David. “The people would be the source of Randy’s strength. His campaign would be run by little heroes, by ordinary Filipinos who are willing to stand up for their principles,” she said.

At the height of the ‘Hello Garci’ controversy, Randy David was arrested along with AKBAYAN President Ronald Llamas. He was also a signatory of the impeachment complaint against GMA.

DAVID VS GOLIATH — UP prof ready to run vs GMA

Posted in nation, politics with tags , , on June 26, 2009 by MASP

DAVID VS GOLIATH
UP prof ready to run vs GMA

By Kristine L. Alave, Juliet Labog-Javellana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:40:00 06/26/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines — His wife and four children are all against it, but University of the Philippines professor and Inquirer columnist Randy David declared Thursday that he would seriously consider running against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should she seek a seat in the House representing the second district of their home province of Pampanga in 2010.

“If she runs, I will think about it very seriously. Yes, I think so. She will not go unchallenged. She will not go unopposed; we will oppose her every step of the way,” David, 63, told the Inquirer last night when asked about reports that he would pit himself against the powerful President in a local showdown.

“It’s probably the most foolish thing to do. I know it’s quixotic to run against the President—somebody who has no qualms about using all the powers of her office—but I think somebody has to stop her. And if we get to that point, I will do my part even if that may be myself,” said the sociology professor.

Brazen

David said the moves to have Ms Arroyo run for a seat in Congress and to hammer out Charter change toward a shift to the parliamentary system were a “brazen” way of circumventing the constitutional ban on presidential reelection.

Under a parliamentary system, the prime minister is the head of state, he pointed out.

“I think what she is doing is really too much, and they have to be stopped,” he said.

David said that while the people of Pampanga were proud to have the President come from the province, this was not a justification for her to prolong her stay in power.

“I belong to the second district and we will not take this [candidacy] sitting down,” he declared.

David said Ms Arroyo had been frequenting Pampanga recently, distributing checks and food—“precisely the worst aspects of patronage politics.”

He said running against Ms Arroyo would also provide the opportunity to grill her on the corruption scandals hounding her administration.

“I will be very happy to challenge her to a debate and let the people know the answers to the many questions about this administration,” he said.

Most unpopular

On a national scale, David said running against Ms Arroyo would be “the easiest thing in the world because she is the most unpopular President.”

But when it came down to local politics, he acknowledged that he probably did not stand a chance against her.

Asked where he would get the resources to run against the President, if and when, he chuckled and said: “I don’t know. Maybe if you run, the resources will come.”

He said he had not talked with Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio about his plan or whether they would form an alliance against the President and her son, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, the incumbent representative of Pampanga who has announced plans to run for governor against the priest-turned-politician.

David said his wife, former Civil Service Commission head Karina Constantino-David, and their four children, as well as his siblings, were vehemently against his running.

Weekend reunion in Betis

But should Ms Arroyo file her candidacy for congresswoman, “I will sit down and talk to my brothers and sisters and my wife and children and tell them ‘Eto na ang kinatatakutan natin (This is what we have been fearing),’” he said.

David said his father, Fiscal Pedro David, who was a lawyer of the Liberal Party, was close to Ms Arroyo’s late father, President Diosdado Macapagal. As early as when Diosdado Macapagal was a congressman, he was a frequent visitor at the David residence in Betis.

David said he did not get close to Ms Arroyo because she did not live in Pampanga.

He himself has been going home to Betis every Sunday on his motorcycle for weekend family reunions, he said.

‘We’ll not take it lying down’

In a media interview yesterday at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Panlilio let loose with fighting words in talking about Ms Arroyo’s purported planned run.

“People are sensing a political agenda in what she is doing. There is a growing notion that she’s using the second district of Pampanga for her political plans to protect herself from legal suits later on,” he said, adding:

“We will give her a good fight. We have some options. We will definitely pit someone in case she runs. We will not take this lying down.”

Asked if David was their candidate, Panlilio neither denied nor confirm it.

15 visits so far

He said he had only read of David’s supposed plan to challenge Ms Arroyo in the papers, and that he had yet to talk to the UP professor who backed his candidacy for governor in 2007.

But David can definitely run in the second district as he is a registered voter there, Panlilio said.

He said Pampanga residents had “mixed” reactions to Ms Arroyo and her frequent visits to her home province.

If the elections were held now, Ms Arroyo would definitely win the congressional seat in the second district because she has brought improvements there, Panlilio said.

But there are other constituents who see through her political agenda, he said.

Of the 17 times Ms Arroyo visited Pampanga this year, 15 were in the second district.

“I believe more and more people are having a growing consciousness of why she’s doing this. If she truly loves Pampanga, why doesn’t she run for governor?” Panlilio said.

“We don’t want Pampanga to be used,” he said.

Frat brod

In Malacañang, Gary Olivar, one of the President’s spokespersons, pledged support for her possible opponent in 2010.

Olivar, Ms Arroyo’s preferred mouthpiece on economic affairs, said he and David belonged to the same fraternity.

“So I would encourage him to run regardless of whether the President will run or not,” Olivar said. “And I will certainly campaign for him.”

Olivar took a different tack after being reminded by a reporter that he was a spokesperson for Ms Arroyo, who might end up contesting the congressional seat in Pampanga with David.

“He will have my moral support then,” Olivar said.

David will have “a bright future if he decides to go into politics,” according to Olivar.

But he said the sociology professor “should not condition [his decision] on the President’s plan.”

Ultimate intention

Lorelei Fajardo, another of Ms Arroyo’s spokespersons, questioned David’s motivation in considering running for a seat in the House.

“We should have the right intention and right motive in running, and I think there’s no better intention for us than to serve our country, serve our people and make a good difference,” Fajardo said.

“This should be the ultimate intention, and nothing else,” she said.

Olivar added: “I would like to believe that professor David shares the same intention.”

With a report from Christian V. Esguerra

YOUth Got the Power, YOUth got to Vote!

Posted in education, nation, politics with tags , , , on June 22, 2009 by MASP

ftvYOU Vote, YOU Transform!

Young voters comprise the majority of the voting population every elections. This doesn’t only mean the youth can swing the results of the elections, but it also tells us the power of the youth to significantly contribute to the institutionalization of deeper and meaningful reforms in our political system.

Using this power is not only important, but is also necessary and urgent. The country is currently facing a serious political and economic crisis. The space for reforms provided by EDSA 1 and 2 has been bastardized by traditional politicians who put personal and myopic interests above the interests of the nation. Competence, credibility, and good governance have been replaced by popularity, prominent family names, and wealth.

Voting and being active during elections would not guarantee immediate reforms and changes in our political system. However, it is an important start: by electing as many progressive candidates as possible, the chance of having more reforms and changes in our politics becomes greater.

HOW TO CHOOSE A CANDIDATE:

There will be hundreds of candidates that will be running for different positions in the coming polls. Add that to the thousands of voters who will flock to their precints and you’d probably consider skipping this elections and staying at home instead.

Much of the stress that takes place during election day can be significantly reduced if we go to our precincts ready and well prepared. And we don’t prepare for the election on the day of voting itself: this must be done much earlier to have the advantage of time to learn more about our candidates, or our own position on issues.

Here’s a simple step by step guide to a well-informed and stress-free voting:

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR ISSUES

Instead of relying on the candidates to tell you about the issues that you should hear from them, why not do it other way around this time? Remember, elective officials are supposed to represent you and the people’s concern should set the priority issues or platform of the candidate.

One practical thing to do is to list down the issues that you feel strongly about. Many young Filipinos feel strongly about the kind of education that they get, or how accessible education is, or the chances of getting a job after their studies. Others are more interested in their participation in the government’s decision-making processes, from the proposed abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan to having meaningful consultations with public officials.

STEP 2: IMAGINE THE SOLUTION

This isn’t as hard or difficult as it sounds. We don’t have expect young voters to have the solution to the problems and issues that the country faces. But the idea is, other than knowing what issues the candidates should champion, we should also have a sense on how they should propose to solve or handle issues.

One good way to do this is to contact other youth groups or civil society organizations that have done research on specific issues and have proposed policies or solution to these issues.

STEP 3: KNOW THE CANDIDATES

It’s election season and a lot of traditional politicians are spending millions of pesos to project a different and a more attractive image. This makes it difficult to get more information directly from the candidates, but then we need to be persistent. There are many possible sources of background information on the candidates, if the candidate is a re-electionist, then get a copy of the candidate’s voting record. This would tell us how they decided on certain issues. Obtain a list of the bills that he or she supported or voted against, his or her project and programs, and get a copy of his or her statement of assets and liabilities to see his or her financial or business interests. If a candidate is not an incumbent, then get a copy of his or her platform and position papers. Be attentive to the media reports on the candidate. If worse comes to worse, then brave the candidate’s campaign sortie, where sometimes voters can get a chance to talk to the candidate directly.

Look into leadership skills of the candidate. Does he or she accept invitations to debates or does he or she have the patience to listen to the voters? Are his or her campaign materials accurate?

STEP 4: EVALUATE WHAT YOU GOT

Candidates oftentimes have spin doctors, or political operators, that write their speeches or develop their platforms. This makes it important to evaluate the materials that you have obtained to have a more discerning and critical assessment of the candidate. A lot of candidates avoid ambush interviews from the press precisely because they do not know a thing about important issues and at times this is more revealing than the impressive resumes that were provided by the candidate’s campaigners.

STEP 5: TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK

Talk to your friends or to your family about your impressions of the candidate. This helps broaden our perspectives on the issues that we care about and may even help us obtain more information and data for our political decisions. Remember, though, not to discount your personal opinions or perspective of others. Be broad-minded. Since you are doing this way before the Election Day, you have the luxury of time to analyze all the stuffs that you’ve heard.

STEP 6: TAKE A BREAK, AND FINALLY…

Review your data and compare the candidates, ask yourself who among the candidates champion the issues you feel strongly about. Check, who is doing his or her campaign fair and square. Then choose the candidate that you will vote for.

OOPSS… LAST ONE

Of course if you feel strongly about the candidate, and if you really want him or her to win, you can always join his or her campaign!

-First Time Voters (FTV) Network

on CARPER

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 by MASP

CARET POSITION ON THE CARPER BILL

The Center for Agrarian Reform Empowerment and Transformation, Inc. (CARET) is a non-government organization that does organizing and capacity-building in agrarian reform communities and involves itself in policy advocacy work in peasant-related issues on both the national and local level. As such, CARET is part of the broad coalition of activists, advocates and farmers’ groups pushing for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law with reforms otherwise known as the CARPER bill. Having played a part in this initiative together with its partner national federation, the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan, we know that the struggle has not been an easy one. From the start, we have been beset by numerous roadblocks and faced formidable opponents both from the landed interests inside and outside the legislature and the extreme Left pushing for their revolutionary brand of land reform. But we have forged on with faith and determination, secure in the knowledge that we are doing so with the interests of the rural poor and the countryside foremost in our consideration. In June of this year, the Senate and the House of Representatives have finally enacted the CARP Extension with Reforms Law, thus heralding a new chapter in the agrarian reform advocacy and in the peasant struggle. What do we look forward to and what are we grateful for? The reinstitution of Compulsory Acquisition, is one big victory, often described as the heart and soul of agrarian reform, and the approval of the PhP 150B budget for land reform to operationalize the fresh mandate for distribution and ensure continued support services for the next five years. Since our partner people’s organizations (PO) are mostly those in distributed landholdings and face second-generation problems, with the exception of one PO still in the pre-land distribution stage, we are happy about the insertion of provisions that strengthen security of land tenure for farmer-beneficiaries. The provision mandating the indefeasibility of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) and Empancipation Patents (EP) one year after registration will help in the assertion of rights of our farmers in Bgys. Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan, Batangas, and our farmers in Rosales, Pangasinan facing displacement. The recognition of the legal personality of of agrarian reform beneficiaries in agrarian disputes (DARAB) and agrarian law implementation (ALI) cases ensures that the farmers’ voice will now be officially heard in official forums and will help solve persistent issues involving access to justice. Likewise, we think that the provision on the exclusive jurisdiction of the DAR in agrarian cases is an important step to resolve the multiple cases of ejectment being filed against tenants in regular courts. As we consider land use and food security as part of, if not central to, our policy advocacy, we welcome the prohibition on irrigated and irrigable lands from land conversion and hopes that it leads to the protection of food baskets and rice granaries in Central Luzon from development aggression and unfettered industrialization. It remains to be seen whether this can stem the biofuel boom currently threatening agricultural lands. We urge the passage of the National Land Use Act to work in tandem with CARPER towards sustainable, people-centered and just land use. Finally, inasmuch as CARET has fought for the rights of rural women from the start, with a gender unit ever since the organization’s inception, it is truly cause to celebrate that the advocacy of rural women and gender-responsive support services is highlighted in the CARPER law. These, along with the other reforms such as the removal of Voluntary Land Transfers as a mode of acquisition, the immunity from TRO of DAR in the implementation of LAD, the credit and initial capitalization subsidy for new and existing beneficiaries, the changing of the reckoning period for payment of amortization from receipt of award to actual occupancy, the removal of squatting as a case against ARB’s, the removal of aquaculture as a ground for exemption of agricultural lands, must be recognized and heralded. However, CARET deems it of utmost importance to address the problem of the attestation requirement, which in effect would make the attestation of landowners a prerequisite before farmers may be qualified as beneficiaries. The peril of this requirement is not difficult to foresee – it would be easy for landowners to delay the implementation of agrarian reform by refusing to make the attestation or questioning the list made by the Barangay Agrarian Reform Council. More insidiously, a landowner may use the attestation requirement as leverage to “force” farmers to agree to illegal, non-redistributive arrangements, or to select friendly beneficiaries, or to break a united People’s Organization by attesting some and refusing others. Our last undistributed landholding is located in Bayambang, Pangasinan, and the farmers won against CAT Realty, Inc. They succeeded in having the Conversion Order of CAT Realty revoked. Given the acrimonious relations between the corporation and the farmers, it would a struggle to get CAT Realty to accede to the attestation requirement. Perhaps the solution is not to come up with one penalty provision after the other to prohibit these practices by the landowner, as the legal system is still not a level playing field and access to justice still remains a problem. While it is good to have the penal provisions there, they must be supplemented with alternative modes of compliance so the DAR can proceed with redistribution even without the attestation. Hence, given this mix of reform-oriented amendments and one potentially-dangerous killer amendment, CARET sees the new CARPER law not only as having opened many windows of opportunity for the farmers, but also as having created new arenas of struggle for the peasant movement. And even as we continue to engage the government in order to influence policy-making, so too must we continue to strengthen the mass movement, contribute to grassroots empowerment and master the new terrain to clinch the gains in the next five years.