Bantay Proseso, Bantay Pangako Task Force Eleksyon 2016 – On the State of Elections
BREAK OLD PATTERNS: Plataporma at plano, hindi pangalan ng kandidato!
Task Force Eleksyon 2016, the largest nationwide coalition of electoral reform advocates, urgently calls on all candidates, different political formations, relevant government institutions, civil society, the media, and the general populace to decisively break the cycle of personality-driven politics this election season and to generate a more substantial democratic exercise that empowers the people to confront the country’s challenges head-on.
The political environment has so far been hostile to an issue-based electoral discourse, so much so that the electoral players seem to be forgetting a basic fact: that the elections are about the people, and not just about the candidates.
With election day less than four months away, our country’s deeply-rooted political afflictions are again rearing their ugly heads, giving full view to the inequities in our elite-dominated democracy. Task Force Eleksyon 2016 is alarmed by the way the electoral discussion has so far centered on candidates’ pedigrees and private histories, personal attacks, the fluctuations of survey results, and ever-shifting alliances that in the end surprise no one.
While those may be difficult to ignore, the disproportionate attention given to them has foreclosed the space for an issue-based electoral dialogue. The candidates for top positions, in particular, are rightfully expected to lead such a conversation on a national scale; yet they have, without exception, fallen spectacularly short on this measure.
In the interest of sparking this conversation, therefore, we urge all candidates to answer the following questions:
- What are your stands on burning national issues, such as corruption, peace in Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the Lumad killings, the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, the freedom of the press, disaster preparedness and response, and climate change?
- What specific policies will you put in place and how will you differ from other candidates in terms of governance and economic policy, defense and foreign policy, law and order, agrarian reform, education and health, and peace and social justice?
- What programs will you pursue to prioritize and defend the poor and marginalized so that they are not left behind in your prospective administration?
Discussions on these questions have been sorely lacking. Tragically, candidates and other electoral players have shown readiness to instead simply fall back on old problematic patterns that blunt the full democratic potential of the polls.
By answering the questions posed above, however, candidates will begin to actively confront the old afflictions of Philippine elections, such as the widespread use of black propaganda and the media blitz afforded them, the marginalization of issues that matter most to the people, the cynical renouncement of the electoral narrative to the control of a few, and the abusive use of politico-legal measures that attempt to force foregone conclusions on the people.
We have faith that Filipinos are capable of overcoming such old and tired patterns that have long been the scourge of our electoral system. The first step, especially for candidates, is to finally insist on issues over personalities.
A new future will be within reach when candidates venture to the peripheries and truly hear out such issues facing the people. It is at the margins where we will find a new horizon of politics for our people.
Tama na ang personalan; isyu namin, pag-usapan!