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