Youth leader to leave RP if 7 things happen
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer 02/28/2007
Link to Article: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view_article.php?article_id=52046
MANILA, Philippines -- The state of politics in the Philippines is becoming so bad that even the most patriotic of Filipinos like Harvey Keh is considering migrating.
If that happens, it will certainly be a big loss.
The credentials as patriot of the 27-year-old Keh are impeccable.
In an open letter posted on the Internet, Keh said that in spite of his love for his country, there were seven possible outcomes of the coming elections that would make him consider leaving the country.
1. If former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of "Hello Garci" infamy wins in his announced bid to become congressman of Bukidnon province.
The opposition says a wiretapped conversation purportedly between Garcillano and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is evidence Ms Arroyo stole the 2004 presidential election. Ms Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing.
"We would really be the laughingstock of the whole world if we allowed a man with the reputation of Garci to be one of our so-called 'Honorable Gentlemen,'" Keh said in his open letter titled "What Will Make Me Leave the Philippines."
2. If "Dancing Queen" Tessie Aquino-Oreta reclaims her Senate seat.
"I hope that all of us would still remember that dance that she did during the 2001 impeachment hearings after they voted to overrule the decision of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Let us make sure that people like her never make it to the Senate again," said Keh.
3. If actor and comedian Richard Gomez is elected senator.
"What does he know about making laws? We already have the likes of Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid in the Senate, and their performance, or the lack of it, would be reason enough not to elect another actor who has no prior experience in government to the distinguished halls of the Senate," the letter said. \n\n
4. If former senator Gregorio Honasan wins a Senate seat.
"I cannot believe that just because someone is charismatic, we will just elect him to become one of our senators despite the fact that he has time and again caused so much instability in our country," Keh said. "If we want a military junta similar to that of Thailand, then let's all vote for this guy."
5. If Manny Pacquiao becomes congressman of General Santos City.
"Everybody loves Manny the Boxing Champ, but Manny the Lawmaker? Let's be realistic here, Manny is our hero, but I think it takes more than just great boxing skills and a desire to serve to be able to make appropriate laws that would help uplift the lives of the many Filipinos who live in poverty," he said. \n\n6. If Sen. Lito Lapid is elected mayor of Makati City.
6.Lito Lapid as city mayor of the country's finance and business center?! Do you really think he is from Makati and has good plans for the city?" he asked.
7. If Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson, who has long been linked to illegal gambling, is elected.
Deluge of concern
Keh's short e-mail has reached the farthest corners of the world, triggering a deluge of responses from Filipinos -- most of whom share his fears.
"Since I sent the e-mail on Feb. 14, I have been receiving at least 80 messages a day," Keh told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "I spend about two to three hours in front of my computer just answering my mail.
"It seems that the letter has really circulated and penetrated almost every Filipino e-group all over the world," said Keh.
Keh said he was compelled to write an open letter because of the news that Garcillano was going to run in Bukidnon.
Keh, however, said in another e-mail sent following the huge response generated by his first letter that there were still reasons to stay in the Philippines, and Filipinos overseas could do their share by investing in education.
Invest in education
It is in education that Keh finds a brighter future for the Philippines.\nAnd how much does it cost to invest in the country's future?
Not much, according to Keh.
Just $60, he said, could send a Filipino youth leader to a training seminar to help develop better leaders; $100 can buy a complete set of reference materials for a public elementary school library for 2,000 students, and $200 can help send a student to college for one year, as provided by Pathways to Higher Education, which Keh helped put up.
"As long as there are many more Filipinos who are willing to take a risk and invest in our country's future, then indeed there is still much hope left in the Philippines," he said.
Keh is the former executive director of Pathways to Higher Education at the Ateneo de Manila University, an organization that helps less fortunate students gain access to quality higher education in the Philippines.He is one of the 20 Young Leaders of Asia cited on the 50th anniversary of the Asia Society, an organization founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III to strengthen relationships and deepen understanding among the peoples of Asia and the United States.
He is also one of the inaugural Fellows of the Asian Institute of Management's Mirant Center for Bridging Societal Divides and executive director of Ahon Foundation, which aims to increase Filipino literacy by building libraries across the country.
What's wrong with this picture?
He was also concerned about the unusual makeup of the two major political alliances fighting over the 12 seats in the Senate.
The Team Unity ticket of President Macapagal-Arroyo has former senators Sotto and Aquino-Oreta, who accused Ms Arroyo of cheating their then standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. during the 2004 elections.
On the other hand, Senate President Manuel Villar, who as House Speaker was instrumental in the impeachment of former President Joseph Estrada, is now part of the United Opposition, which is led by Estrada himself.
"Now, if you don't see anything wrong with this picture then you must be one of the many Filipinos who have accepted this very sad reality that there is indeed no permanent ideals that our government leaders stand up for, but rather, they just go where their self-interest can best be served," Keh said in his e-mail.
"It is this kind of politics [that explains] why I no longer wonder why good people like Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City or outstanding Bulacan Gov. Josie de la Cruz will find it hard, or worse, never be elected to national positions," Keh said.
Be more vigilant
Keh appealed to his fellow Filipinos to do their share to shape the outcome of the elections in May.
"I think it is time that Filipinos became more vigilant and critical in selecting our leaders for the sake of our future and the generations that will go beyond us. So I appeal to every Filipino who asks what can I actually do for my country, choose and vote for the right people in the coming elections," he said.
He appealed to Filipinos in his open letter not to be influenced by candidates on the basis of a catchy jingle or a cute poster.
"Let us choose leaders who have a good track record for service and who are genuinely committed toward serving our country," he said.