August 25, 2016
Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
First of all, I would like to thank, of course, Senator Risa Hontiveros for being with us to discuss matters in connection with our shared goal— to strengthen the electoral reforms and enhance people’s participation which serve as bedrock principles of our freedom and democracy.
As a former election lawyer, reforms in the electoral system remain a close advocacy of mine. My experience in this profession and also as a first-time participant in the last national campaign and elections has given me a clearer picture of what needs to be done to strengthen our electoral process.
Dito nga po sa Pilipinas, unique tayo. Sabi nila, sa eleksyon po kasi natin, wala raw pong natatalo, nadadaya lang. Although unti-unti na po sigurong naiiba ‘yung pananaw na ‘yan.
Bukod sa dayaan, marami rin pong nauulat na insidente ng patayan at karahasan tuwing halalan.
The international community has praised our country for the successful conduct of automated elections, which was pioneered last 2010. Though we have already shifted from manual elections to a modern election system, there are still issues that need to be addressed to protect the sanctity of votes of our people and the integrity and credibility of election results.
Alam niyo naman po, sa modernong sistema ng automated elections, hirap ng makapandaya sa pamamagitan ng dagdag-bawas sa canvassing. Kaya maraming istilo ng pandaraya, bago man o luma, ang mas napa-uso, karamihan dito ay ginagawa bago ang araw ng eleksyon o right before voting. Ilang halimbawa nito ay ang pagpapatakbo ng nuisance candidate na pareho ang pangalan sa kalaban, ang paggamit ng social media para magpakalat ng mga black propaganda, vote-buying lalo na sa lokal na labanan, at sa ilang lugar na kontrolado pa ng mga warlord ang eleksyon.
Cheaters are adapting to the critical changes we have made to modernize our election systems. They have the money and machinery to commit electoral fraud through loopholes in our laws. While we have almost assured the accuracy of the election day count, from counting to canvassing to proclamation, our election laws have not yet responded to the myriad forms of cheating that occur during the campaign and right before the elections.
Another issue revolves around the fact that every election, many politicians spend hefty amounts of money for advertisements. Di ko na ho siguro kailangan sabihin na meron talaga hong mga ilan-ilan na sangkatutak po ang tv commercials o tv ads noong kampanya. This is the loophole they exploit.
As a neophyte candidate during the last elections, I experienced the difficulty in matching the resources of well-oiled campaign machineries. I had limitations in resources and could only afford a lean team running the operations of the campaign. It was an uphill battle going against more organized and sufficiently funded candidates, despite the fact that I was a candidate of the ruling party.
Kailangan po nating baguhin ang kalakaran na ito. Kailangang gawing patas ang laban sa pagitan ng mayayaman at may malakas na makinarya, at doon sa mga ordinaryong kandidato o walang sapat na pera.
Furthermore, we have to enhance people’s participation in our collective goal to uplift our society. Popular intervention in our political life as a nation must go beyond elections. There has to be life after elections for our people, in terms of direct participation in local government and national legislation, and pursuing public accountability from the elected officials on a regular and institutionalized basis.
Mechanisms for continued people’s participation in the affairs of the State beyond elections must be strengthened. Systems for democratization and popularization of political power, from the elected to the governed, must be explored and introduced in order to empower our basic sectors and civil society in general. Autonomous people’s organizations and an informed and organized citizenry that are not beholden to traditional elite interests or political groups should serve as the lifeblood of our democracy. This is the only way that we can also assure that modern technology and social media are not abused and become the modern substitute for the rule of the mob.
In the coming hearings, we will discuss the following:
1) Bills enhancing the people’s participation such as local absentee voting and increased voter’s assistance for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
2) Bills that encourage a stronger line-up of candidates and political parties, such as the anti-nuisance candidates and political party reform measures.
3) Bills that will enhance the electoral campaign exercises, such as advertising discounts and ban against premature campaigning.
4) Lastly, bills which seek to strengthen the participation of people’s and civil society organizations (PO’s and CSO’s) in the formulation of national, regional, and local development plans.
Ito po ang mga nakapilang panukalang batas, sa ngayon, na ating pag-uusapan sa mga susunod na pandinig. Pero umaasa ako na maging bukas lang tayo sa iba pang mga panukala o usapin na may kaugnayan sa layunin nating tugunan ang mga butas sa ating batas. Kabilang dito halimbawa ang campaign finance reform at pagsusuri sa ating party-list system.
Ang hangad natin: Makasabay sa pagbabagong hatid ng modernong panahon, masugpo ang pang-aabuso sa ating sistemang elektoral, at mas mapabuti ang pagtupad sa mandatong kaloob ng sambayanang Pilipino.
Maraming salamat po.