Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can Alternative Reform Candidates for President win in 2010?

Can Alternative Reform Candidates for President win in 2010?
By: Harvey S. Keh

For the past months since Kaya Natin! was launched, I have met and talked with several groups and organizations all asking if Kaya Natin! will be fielding its own Presidential candidate for the upcoming 2010 National Elections. These groups include organizations of farmers and peasants, civil society groups, socio-civic organizations, business groups, religious leaders and student leaders. Rumors have been circulating that Kaya Natin! leaders such as Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo are considering to make a run for the highest position in our land. When I asked them about this, they simply laugh because they feel that it’s such a farfetched idea given their lack of national awareness and say that their personal preference is to go back to their private lives after they have served out the remainder of their present terms, Panlilio as a priest while Padaca as a practicing certified public accountant. Yet, in almost all of the more than 60 colleges and universities that we have visited in our Caravan of Good Governance, the students who attend never fail to ask the Kaya Natin! leaders to strongly consider to run as alternative and reform Presidential candidates for the 2010 polls. In a recent discernment session we organized in Nueva Ecija, majority of those who attended said that they can’t seem to choose who to vote for among all the current Presidentiables since all of them seem to represent the same values and ideals that have brought our country to where it is today.

This then begs the question, is the country actually ready to elect an alternative and reform candidate in 2010? Many of those whom I have talked to also mention the names of Chief Justice Reynato Puno and JIL Leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva as other alternative candidates that will reflect the right values that we need in our next President. Some political analysts and public relations practitioners have also warned me that fielding a reform slate in 2010 will be useless given that the reality of Philippine politics is that one would need money and political machinery just to be able to put up a decent campaign. One of them even told me that a viable Presidential campaign would need at least P 2 Billion Pesos! She told me that if you can’t raise that money, don’t even bother to make a run at the Presidency since it will just be a lost cause. Not to dampen the hopes of many idealistic Filipinos here and abroad but I tend to agree with these political analysts that good intentions are not enough and the issue of having enough resources is very crucial if we want to finally elect a God-fearing, morally-upright, effective and ethical leader for our country in 2010.

However, I’d like to also believe that there is still enough time for us to work together and support an alternative and reform candidate whether it will be Panlilio, Padaca, Robredo, Puno, Villanueva or any other reform leader but we have to be united and we have to act now. I still believe that the spirit of people power is still alive in Filipinos everywhere in the world. There is a silent majority of Filipinos especially those who are living abroad that are now longing to see change in our country especially in the 2010 elections. Imagine if all the overseas Filipinos would just decide to chip in at least US$ 5.00 each to support a reform candidate then that would give the candidate at least US$ 30 Million or P 1.5 billion pesos to help him or her in putting up a good and decent fight against the ruling oligarchs and traditional politicians in our country. Another thing going for us is that majority of the voting population of our country are young people aged between 18-40 years old thus, it is imperative for all of us to support initiatives such as the Movement for Good Governance, YouthVote Philippines and IamChange2010 that are encouraging the Filipino youth to register for the upcoming polls. The energy and idealism of these young Filipinos can also be tapped as we have seen in the Presidential campaigns of Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Raul Roco, both of whom almost made it despite meager resources due to the support of the Filipino youth. Padaca and Panlilio showed that people power in the polls can happen in the provincial level but whether or not it can happen in the national level is now up to all of us. Will we allow ourselves to have another President that is beholden to the interests of a few elite families and oligarchs? The answer lies in your hands.

Comments are welcome at

Harvey S. Keh is the Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wil there really be an Election in 2010?

Will there really be an Election in 2010?

by: Harvey S. Keh

The recent news approving the 11 billion supplemental budget for the full automation of the upcoming 2010 National Elections was welcomed by many sectors in society as a big step forward towards having a more transparent and honest election. One of the challenges now is to make sure that the bidding and procurement process for the equipment and materials that will be used for poll automation will be monitored properly so as to ensure transparency. In addition to this, it is imperative that proper training be given to those who will run the election counting machines especially since this is the first time that we will be doing this on a national scale. Let us remember that it may actually be easier for our current political leaders to conduct wholesale cheating in the elections given that they will only need to manipulate the election machines thus, we need to continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have a clean and honest election whose results will reflect the true mandate of the Filipino people.

Aside from this, one famous radio commentator also remarked that the passing of this huge budget only goes to show that there will indeed be an election this coming 2010. Yet, just the other day I got a chance to talk to a former high-level member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s cabinet who told me that the passage of the poll automation budget may actually be a diversionary tactic by our present administration. The present administration would want people to actually believe that any moves to push for Charter Change before 2010 are now dead given that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) are now preparing for full poll automation. This former cabinet member also told me that the President’s cohorts at the House of Representatives are looking to spring a surprise when they go back to session in April. The strategy will be to push for the convening of a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) by getting 197 combined signatures from Congressmen and Senators. This is unconstitutional given that the constitution clearly states that for Con-Ass to happen, the House of Representatives and the Senate have to vote separately and each of them will have to get at least 2/3 of their members voting for Con-Ass. If this will continue and Arroyo’s minions will get their 197 signatures, the Senate will definitely contest and bring this to the Supreme Court who will decide with finality on the proper interpretation of the constitution. Given that almost all members of the Supreme Court are already appointees of Arroyo, it will not be surprising if they rule in her favor.

This is where public opinion and public clamor should come in, we need to remain vigilant because as we have seen the past 8 years this administration is capable of doing anything just to remain in power. We need to show this administration and her allies that we want to have elections in 2010 because we want a new set of leaders who are God-fearing, morally-upright, honest, effective and ethical to lead us towards a better society. We need to show them that we want to practice our right to elect the right leaders for our country. If we do not act now, we may just wake up ten years from now and still have the same set of corrupt leaders continuing to lead this country down the drain. Many of the people I have talked to said that the main problem of our current administration is the fact that our leaders do not have a clear vision for the country. I totally disagree with them, this administration has a clear vision and that is to continue to stay in power even beyond 2010 by continuing to manipulate each one of us while continuing to destroy every single democratic institution in our country.

As a Filipino, I think we deserve much better than this but unless we act together, make our voices heard and demand a better government they will just continue with their shenanigans. It is now time to show our leaders that we have had enough, we want an elections in 2010 because we are sick and tired of the same traditional politicians that have continued to enrich themselves while millions of Filipinos continue to go hungry each day.

To make your voice heard and support the drive against Charter Change before 2010, please visit:

Comments are welcome at

Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. He is also the lead convenor of Kaya Natin! A National Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.