Monday, April 16, 2007

A decent campaign or political survival

As I observe my friends doing their campaigns for the 2007 elections, I am amazed about how manyof them are actually torn between the terrible choices of sustaining their ideals/values and losing in the election or doing what the opponents are doing and fighting it out to the last peso!

As I have observed my friends (and former friends) who have actually won electoral positions, the same digfficulty is perceived: to what extend can they sustain their values and advocacies without their reelection being endangered by various interest and lobby groups.

Thus, the common line that I usually hear among politicians is that winning must come first, while advocacies and call for reforms must be done after the position has been secured. After all, nobody takes a loser seriously.

This may sound logical. Unfortunately, experiences proved otherwise. Many of those who are supposedly reform-minded people who has fallen into elected positions found themeselves in an entirely new and frightening arena. Many are paralyzed by the pressures, neglecting the supposed duty of instituting reforms after the position has been won. Others simply gave up and became embedded part of the system and institution they so passionately want to change!

A lesson must be seen here. Politics is not about good intentions. Instead, it is about an individuals capacity to wield power and use it effectively. At the same time, it is also about the person's power to master himself and avoiding any delusion of grandeur or absolute authority.

After all, elected positions are given as some sort of trust to those who win elections. And such trust can be very fragile, particularly when viewed within the larger context of political, economic, and cultural realities.

Thus, it may not necessarily be a choice between being decent and committing political suicide or being trapo and surviving the fight. Instead, its about the capacity to be competent and passionate for social change while continuing to have fatih in the people whose trust every politician is trying to win over.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

On the Role of Citizens Group in the 2007 Elections

Now, it is final: COMELEC has given mandates to PPCRV and NAMFREL to act as citizens group in the 2007 elections.

PPCRV handles voter education and pollwatching. NAMFREL on the other hand will handle the quick count component.

With these developments, people may easily fall into the mindset that it will be "business as usual" come May 14. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

An exteremely heavy burden has been put on the shoulder of these citizens group: they have to watch closely and witness for the people whether the election will be credible and acceptable! And this is not a simple task given the complexity of our antiquated electoral system and the power and resources of the various contenders in this elections.

Thus, there is a dual need for NAMFREL and PPCRV to stand watch over the process while at the same time ensuring that their credibility remains intact. They are also supposed to be more aggressive this time, given their experiences in previous elections and the taking into consideration also the implications of the 2007 elections to the future of this country.

Thus, the fundamental questions: how they set up their operating structures and how will they combat cheating and violations of election laws, should be a central preoccupation of these citizens group.