2016 elections now

Even boxer Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao got bitten by it. He admitted recently in Macau that he is considering running for Philippine presidency, possibly in 2016. The first to do so, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay already announced his availability in 2012. Just before the 2013 elections, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. also said he is open to become a candidate. Just after the elections, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., possibly as a trial balloon, broadly hinted he will run for presidency. Of course, the ruling Liberal Party is expected to field its presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, although it is still mulling over whether it is Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II or another LP stalwart.

Of course, we cannot leave out possible top-ranking senators such as Senate President Franklin “Frank” Drilon, Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Senator Loren Legarda, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, and 2013 topnotcher Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares. After all, the Senate, with its national constituency, is the traditional launching pad for presidential bids.

Aside from them, there are other possible presidential bids, such as from former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada or, a dark horse, businessman Manuel “Manny” Pangilinan. The list is by no means complete, as ambitions and opportunities met in future scenarios.

What is evident is that the campaign preparations—and even the campaign itself—for the 2016 presidential election have started. No serious presidential wannabe can afford to be caught unprepared.

The media nowadays are full of “exposés” and praise pieces about the 2016 would-be candidates. This is the sure sign of the campaign season starting.

What are the stakes for 2016? Of course, the holding of presidential power comes at the top of all considerations. The Philippine president, more than even the US president, enjoys wider latitudes of authority, short of Ferdinand Marcos’ own dictatorial powers during martial rule. He or she can appoint officials down to the sixth level of bureaucracy (provincial level), judicial officials down to the municipal level, and military and police officers down to the level of captains or equivalent. He or she can make line vetoes of the national budget, realign or authorize disbursements of public funds, inside or outside the national budget, and can control the pork barrel funds of legislators and internal revenue allotments of local governments. There are other powers that can also be cited.

And, of course, the perks and privileges…no one comes even close to the president’s with a whole presidential security brigade for escort, several tens of billions a year for presidential budget, and a whole fleet of air, sea and ground transportation assets for travel.

Who is the politician would not want to be the president? Indeed, who is the actor or boxer who will refuse the opportunity? Of course, the popular comedian actor Dolphy has his classic repartee when he was asked the question: “What if I win?” However, as far as I know, he was never asked by the kingmakers.



Voters’ Education: A challenging new experience for us

It was no easy task, but we took the challenge. To even think of pulling the people out from what they have been used to doing for decades, in fact every election since the Philippines gained its independence and began exercising their right of suffrage, has been like fighting an invisible foe. But nevertheless, since we were given this task, then, we had to do it.

The first thing we did was to come up with the content of the Voter’s Education program and how to execute it. We considered the uniqueness and demography of the people in our City so that the content of our Voter’s Ed could be suited to their intellectual mind-set and needs.

We received the Manual for VotEd from the Namfrel Secretariat and gathered some other materials and came up with our own which we called “Electoral Community Forum.” So that it would be more effective, we came up with a Tagalog version. We decided to limit the time of the entire seminar to two hours with this simple outline: What to do during Election Day; What not to do; What are the Basis in Selecting the Right Candidates; and, what is the PCOS machine and How to Use it. Then we selected from among ourselves who will talk on which topic, giving each speaker fifteen to twenty minutes to talk on his topic. To draw crowds, we encouraged communities to participate by way of young people or children who formed themselves into dance groups or singing groups. Or, raffle something. We did everything just to draw a good crowd.

Our plan was to saturate the different Barangays with our message and the question was how to do it in the fastest way at the minimum of cost. Fortunately, one of our members own a Mobile Stage Truck and he offered us the use of it. Of course we grabbed the opportunity and made full use of it. Our organization included a Coordinator for each Barangay; we then asked each coordinator to organize for us community and sectoral forum in the different Barangays. In Marikina, we have sixteen Barangays, and we averaged two to three forums a day. We would position our Mobile Stage in strategic locations, like market places, basketball courts, in front of churches, squatters’ areas, schools, etc. We even developed our own Election Song which we played before our forum to draw crowd; we encouraged the audience to learn the song, and we held a contest among the children in the audience that whoever could sing it would receive something, most of the time, candies.

We visited all sixteen Barangays; each visit we averaged reaching three to five hundred people. On May 11, two days before Election Day, from 3 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening, we held a Marikina-wide mobile voters education saturation campaign (18 stop-overs, 20 minutes teaching per stop over, average 555 people per stopover or 10,000 people reached, not to mention our mobile announcements in between stop-overs covering an approximate audience of additional 30,000 people.

However, we have the following observations. We were informed that certain officials coerced and intimidated prospect attendees not to participate in the sessions. Voters’ apathy or lack of interest among target participants were observed to be significant in numbers. Traditional selection criteria in choosing candidates were observed based on popularity or celebrity status, affiliation, acquaintance, influence, coercion/intimidation, brainwashed blockvoting, patronage, etc. Ignorance and poverty were used by the politicians to persuade them to sell their votes and/or offer them in-kind products, services, such as bags of rice and groceries and/or hiring them as watchers, volunteers and campaigners. Also observed were the use of government vehicles in transporting their supporters and campaign paraphernalia as well as the use of government facilities as venues for their campaign sorties, including the use of communication equipment for the same purposes, e.e. mobile phones, internet connection, landlines, computers, laptops, etc. and, the use of the more than 6,000 city employees as harassed and coerced campaigners in support of the administration party-candidates for electioneering purposes.

We plan to continue educating our people in-between elections. This is the only way, we believe, that graft and corruption can be curved. An empowered, well-informed population can never be fooled, harassed or coerced by anybody.


Bigyan ng puwang ang mamamayan sa pamamahala ng gobyermo. Kahit anong plataporma ang ihain sa mamamayan manalo lamang ay pawang hungkag at walang saysay sa mamamayan. Sapagkat ang lahat nang iyan ay inihahain lamang para sila ang iboto. Sa madaling salita “PAWANG PANGBIBILOG LAMANG NG ATING ULO”

Buksan ang pintuan para aktibong ilahok ang mamamayan sa pagpapatakbo ng pamahalaan. Walang politiko at/o kandidato sa marikina na nagbubukas ng ganitong pagkakataon sa mamamayan.

PEOPLES EMPOWERMENT, PEOPLES PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE ito ang magtitiyak na may kaunlaran ang ating pamayanan at hindi lamang ng iilan. Isabatas ng Konseho ang pagpapatupad ng Article 63 at Article 64 ng Local Government Code.

Kung isasakatuparan ang mga nasabing provision ng batas, ito ang magbibigay ng katiyakan sa mamamayan na sila ay maisasali sa pagbubuo ng programa at pagpapasya dito sa pamamagitan ng kanilang sektoral na kinatawan, at kinatawan ng anumang grupo.

Hindi ito imposible sapagkat mayroong batas na umiiral para dito, kung walang kandidato at/o poliitiko na nagnanais sa ganitong kaayusan, nasa mamamayan ang kapangyarihan para igiit ang lahat ng ito. Sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaisa ng bawat isa, sa pagtutulungan ng magagawa natin ito kahit pagkatapos pa man ng halalan.


In fight vs. vote-buying, Comelec faces difficult task of changing voters’ mindset

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson said they intend to stop vote-buying through improving the voters’ “criteria” in choosing candidates, reacting to a former Senate president’s claims that she was not impressed with the poll body’s actions.

Comelec Education and Information Department director James Jimenez said voters’ education is the key to change the mindset of voters, who he said sometimes prefer candidates who gave them money in exchange for their vote.

“The problem is a lot of our voters do not have the same sort of criteria that we define as being necessary criteria for intelligent voting… For the most part, we see people winning who put on girl shows, who give out toys,” Jimenez said during a forum on fair and honest elections on Wednesday.

“Which leads us to believe and we have seen this in the provinces, that the basis for choosing might be different, and that’s what we’re working on – to make sure that we have a crop of voters who will grow up thinking other criteria are more valid than who gave me what with,” he added.

This was after Leticia Ramos-Shahani, who served as Senate president from 1995 to 1996 and sister of former President Fidel Ramos, said she was not impressed with Jimenez’s statements on vote-buying.

“I think the Comelec should not be so innocent and always talk about theoretical things. Because I listen to you over TV very, very regularly, and I’m not satisfied,” Shahani said at the forum, addressing Jimenez.

“It’s not your fault. I’m not blaming you. But there has to be a more convincing way of explaining why all of these anomalies happen, deliberate, not accidental,” added Shahani, who was chairperson of the committees on foreign affairs, education, agriculture, and culture and arts when she was a senator from the 8th to 10th Congress.

Culture of cheating

Shahani, who once ran as governor in Pangasinan but lost, said there is a culture of secrecy among the Filipinos that make vote-buying rampant.

“Culturally, we’re not transparent. We’ll have to be as dense as stones. Why don’t we look at our own cultural practices in the province?” she said.

Shahani also said the Comelec should look into having a culture “specialist” who could assist the poll body in stopping vote-buying. “Maybe you should have some specialist who will know how to understand the Filipino talent for cheating,” she told Jimenez.

Jimenez insisted that the root cause of the problem is the lack of consistency in intelligent voting.

“The root cause of the frustration of the many people who campaign against vote-buying is because we are operating on a set of criteria that no one else seems to share. And it is sharing this criteria with them, making sure that they want platforms, that they want intelligent politics, rather than [politicians giving] monoblock chairs, that is what ultimately will take to undermine the ability of vote buying to operate in our provinces,” he said.

He noted, however, that vote-buying will be difficult to monitor “mostly because both the giver and the receiver of the money have it in their best interest not to reveal their operations.”

Despite this, Jimenez said that through voters’ education Comelec would be able to “break the ignorance of the people so that mayroon silang panibagong set of criteria sa pagpili ng kanilang iboboto.”

He said Comelec has not failed to do its job to find a “long-term” solution to vote-buying.

“Huwag po sana tayong magkakamaling isipin na hindi alam ng Comelec ang nagaganap. Alam natin ang nangyayari pero iba-iba ang approach natin. Ang approach po natin especially now, medyo mas long term. Naghahanap kami ng paraan para mas maayos ‘yung problema ng mga botante mismo na walang nakikitang mali sa vote buying,” Jimenez said.

Realistic approach

Shahani suggested that Comelec should find a more “realistic approach” to voters’ education.

“What goes into voters’ education? I don’t think they’ve really looked into this. What do you educate the voters on? I think it has to be more practical now. A more realistic approach, I think that’s what’s more important,” the former senator said.

The Comelec en banc earlier said they are mulling passing a resolution that would minimize vote-buying in the country.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the resolution may be issued at least 10 days before May 13, Election Day. “Kasi ang vote-buying is really being used a few days before the elections, usually bisperas or two days before,” he said.

Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”

Vote-selling, meanwhile, is “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.”

Those who will be found guilty of such and other election offenses will be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.

The guilty party will also be disqualified to hold public office and deprived of the right of suffrage while a political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than P10,000, which shall be imposed if their officials will be found guilty of the crime. KBK, GMA News ,

Jamby given 3 days to explain why she shouldn’t be charged for online contest

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday gave senatorial candidate Jamby Madrigal three days to explain why she should not be charged with an election offense for holding an online contest with an iPad as prize.

In a letter dated February 25, lawyer Esmeralda Amora-Ladra, head of the Comelec law department, said Madrigal could have violated Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code on vote-buying and vote-selling and Section 7 of Resolution 9616, implementing Section 97 of OEC, which prohibits holding of games for support of any candidate.

Ladra said that on February 15, the Comelec education and information department received a report that Madrigal was allegedly holding a game through Facebook and Twitter and promised to give an iPad to the winner. Continue reading

Jamby facing disqualification over ‘anti-corruption iPad’? Comelec probing ‘LP bet’ for vote-buying

MANILA, Philippines – A senatorial candidate of Team PNoy is in trouble with the Commission on Elections for offering an iPad to netizens who can best complete the sentence, “Corruption is bad because…”

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., on Tuesday said the poll body is investigating the candidate for vote buying and the candidate may face disqualification if proven guilty. He declined to name the candidate, only saying that person is part of the Senate slate of the Liberal Party-led coalition. Continue reading