OFW at IMF

“We have a substantial number of OCWs (overseas contract workers) and we have to protect… It’s in our interest to protect–to help those economies because we have a substantial number of Filipinos there,” Edwin Lacierda, on defending the $1B loan to IMF

 

Bakit tayo may OFW?
Kasi may IMF –
na imperyalistang instrumento
para gipitin ang mga hutuhutang
kolonya at mala-kolonya –
‘gaya ng Pilipinas.

Pilipinas
na magpapautang pa ngayon
ng $1B sa IMF.
Pang-tulong din daw ito sa mga OFW,
sa mga nasyong apektado
ng krisis at resesyon – na
niluwal din naman ng mga
baluktot na polisiya’t imposisyon
ng IMF!

Isang bilyon itong
kontribusyon, pang-bayad
sa lubid na siyang ipang-bibigti natin
sa sarili nating mga leeg!
Isang bilyon itong sampal
sa mukha ng naghihirap
at pinahihirapang si Juan dela Cruz!

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Spittin’ on sovereignty. More fun in the Philippines

Random listing in the Party-List ballot

The Commission on Elections, on June 15, 2012, issued a Resolution calling for the conduct of a raffle of accredited party-list groups “for purposes of determining their order of listing in the official ballot,” to be used in the May 13, 2013 national and local elections.

COMELEC Resolution No. 9467 states that “only party-list groups/coalitions accredited by or duly registered with the Commission, and which have manifested their desire to participate in the party-list election, may participate in the raffle for purposes of determining their order of listing in the ballot.”

The COMELEC said the raffle will be conducted on December 14, 2012 at the poll body’s main office in Manila.

But the move to abandon the alphabetical listing in the party-list ballot was met with criticism from several party-list groups. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares averred that this move “will cause massive delay in the voting.”

“We do not support this move because this will clog up precincts (as) it will take more time for voters to look for their party-lists. And if they do not find it or have a hard time doing so, they may just forgo voting for party-lists which would lead to their disenfranchisement,” said Colmenares.

Yacap Representative Carol Jane Lopez and DIWA Representative Emmeline Aglipay, meanwhile, said the new COMELEC rule would pose a problem to visually impaired voters.

Focus on the heart of the issue

Personally, I see no problem with the COMELEC’s move. I think this is a step in the right direction, as this finally addresses the shameful practice of some party-list groups who deliberately start their organization’s names with the letter “A” or the number “1” just so they would land in the top spot of the party-list ballot.

Party-list groups desperately scramble to the top spot precisely to take advantage of the hordes of Filipino voters who have little or no knowledge about the party-list system. This, for me, is the heart of the issue. 

That more than half of the Party-list groups that vied for seats in the 2010 elections had names starting with “A” or “1” is just symptomatic of this bigger problem.

Party-list legislators should then focus their attention in calling on the COMELEC to launch a massive and systematic information and education campaign on the party-list system. 

After all, an informed voter, who knows what is at stake in his party-list ballot, wouldn’t dare waste his vote by conveniently choosing the one on top of the list.

The problematic scenarios raised by our well meaning party-list legislators are, in fact, not new. We have been experiencing them even before when we still had the alphabetical sequence in the party-list ballot. But be assured, the same problems will still plague us even after we make the switch to randomization.

Because, again, the lack of education on the party-list system is the heart of the issue.

Kayong mga walang alam sa kasaysayan

Mangmang sa kasaysayan
ang sinumang maniwalang
mapipigilan ang pagdaluyong,
ang pananagumpay,
ng paglaban
ng aping mamamayan

Ang mga estrelya sa balikat
ng mga nagtataasang Heneral,
ang mga armas pandigma
ng pasistang militar,
ay yuyuko sa kayang itumbas
ng taumbayang hindi na
nakadarama ng takot,
ng taumbayang hindi na alam
kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng hirap
at pasakit sa pakikihamok;
dahil inari na nilang
kataas-taasang tungkulin
ang pagtatanggol
sa laya nilang
malaon nang ginupo

Ano’ng panama
ng pasistang may baril
sa magsasakang
karit lamang ang bitbit?
Kung ang karit namang ito
ay mabisang ginagamit
hindi lamang sa panamin,
lalo’t higit,
sa paggapas sa ulo
ng mga palalong magkakait
sa kanila ng katarungan,
kung kinakailangan

Ano’ng saysay ng ‘bullet proof vest’
kung hindi mo man lang makita,
ni mamalayan ang dahilan
kung bakit mo ito suot?
dahil ang tunay na hukbo ng mamamayan
ay parang mga hunyangong
humahalo sa paligid ng kaparangan,
sa sukal ng mga kagubatan,
maging sa mga larangan ng labanan,
dahil wala nang mas mabisang ‘bullet proof vest’
kundi ang wagas na pagmamahal
ng masang pinagsisilbihan

Kaya’t kayong mga mangmang sa kasaysayan
nararapat lamang na matuto
sa mga maningning na aral
ni Bonifacio, ni Ho Chi Minh, ni Mao Ze Dong –
kakapit-bisig ang mga mamamayan
sila’y nagpaluhod, nagpalayas,
sa naglalakihang mga pasistang hukbo’t mga emperyo

Ano pa’t ampaw
ang ipinagmamalaki ninyong
mga ‘kontra-insurhensyang’ operasyon.
Nagawa ba nitong maampat man lamang
ang paglagablab ng deka-dekada nang
makatwirang digmang mapagpalaya?

Sa tuwing mangdudukot o papatay
kayo ng inosenteng walang kalaban-laban,
nadadagdagan ba ang inyong kapangyarihan,
o mas lalo lang humuhulas ang katangian ninyong
mga nag-komoplaheng halimaw?

Nanininiwala pa rin ba kayong
kayang ikubli sa ngalang ‘bayanihan’
ang inyong terorismo?

Kung gayon, mamangha kayo sa di mapigil-pigilang agos
ng mga bagong dugo sa rebolusyon!
Mangatal kayo sa pagpula ng mga nayon!

At bago kayo matauhan sa kasaysayang
matagal na ninyong kinukutya’t dinuduraan,
tapos nang likhain ng mga mamamayan
ang sarili nilang kasaysayan!

Huthot piga

Pagpasensyahan niyo na po
ang ating gubyerno
dito kasi, walang trabaho,
walang makain ang maraming tao

E ‘bayani’ nga kayo ‘diba?
Kung hindi nga dahil sa
perang padala ninyo,
ang ekonomiya natin ay guguho,
siyempre, kasamang maglalaho
pati ang gubyerno –

‘Yung parehong gubyernong
walang tigil sa kaiisip ng mga pakulo
para lalo pa kayong huthutan;
‘yung mga masisibang walang kabusugan,
hangga’t hindi nasasaid
ang pera niyong pinaghirapan;
‘yung mga buwitreng walang kapaguran
hangga’t hindi nasasakmal
ang lahat ng inyong laman;
‘yung mga lintang walang pagkakuntento
hangga’t hindi napipiga ang
kahuli-hulihang patak
ng inyong dugo…

Kaya, ‘wag na kayong magreklamo
kayo na po ang bahalang magpasensya
sa ating gubyerno

Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) in the Philippines

Today we celebrate National Migrant Workers’ Day!

In commemoration of this occasion, I deemed it necessary to focus on Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV), the mechanism by which our kababayans abroad may participate in electing our leaders here in the Philippines.

The OAV

The right to suffrage of Filipino citizens, here and abroad, is enshrined in the highest law of the land.

Section 2, Article V of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that “Congress shall provide  a system of securing  the secrecy and sanctity of the ballots as well as the system for absentee voting  by qualified Filipinos abroad.”

Thus on February 13, 2003, Republic Act No. 9189 or the “Overseas Absentee Voting Act” was made into law, granting “all citizens of the Philippines abroad” the right to vote for President, Vice-President, Senators and Party-list representatives.

But since its enactment eleven years ago, Filipinos overseas have yet to reap the benefits of full voting rights as promised by the Constitution. Participation by our overseas compatriots in the system remain dismally low.

Migrante International, the biggest alliance of OFW organizations worldwide, maintained that the low participation can not be attributed to the so called  “growing apathy” among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), contrary to claims by the government and some migrant advocacy groups.

Migrante averred:

While OAV turn-out was indeed low, we believe that it is more important and urgent to review and evaluate the limiting provisions in Republic Act 9189 or the OAV Act , as well as the indifference of some government agencies, particularly the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to OFWs’ issues and complaints pertaining the actual processes and implementing procedures of the OAV. These, primarily, are the main reasons for the massive disenfranchisement of overseas Filipino voters.

The group prepared a Position Paper on what they think the government should undertake in order to improve the system.

I believe Congress and the COMELEC should seriously consider Migrante’s proposals.

In the meantime, I strongly urge Filipinos overseas to register as overseas absentee voters. OAV Registration have been running since October 31 last year. It will end on October 31, 2012.

Qualified Filipinos abroad may file their applications for registration at their Philippine Posts or Consulates. They need only bring their passports- and in the case of the seafarers, their Seaman’s Books – to register.

To learn more on the basic features of the OAV, below is a power point presentation prepared by the COMELEC Education and Information Department on the Basic Features of the OAV. Kindly click on the link to download: 2011_oav_regn

OFWs Kalahok sa Pagbabago! Magparehistro para Makaboto! 

Amend if you must, but do not curtail

COMELEC Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. (COMELEC Photo)

COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes recently called on Congress to amend the Party-List Law. He said, legislation is needed to “limit the sectors” who wishes to participate in the Party-List polls.

Right now, according to the COMELEC, there are 172 Party-lists that are seeking accreditation from the poll body. Because of that high number, the COMELEC has been conducting ‘marathon hearings’ in a bid to screen each applicant.

The COMELEC Chief seems troubled by the apparent high turn out of PL hopefuls that he wants to limit the number of those they will grant accreditation to to participate in the next year’s election, to 150.

True, the number’s quite staggering. But why fret?

Isn’t the high turn out indicative of a higher level of people’s appreciation to the Party-List System? After all, this is what Republic Act No. 7941 or the “Party-List System Act” is all about. To give the marginalized and the underrepresented sectors a chance to participate in making laws for benefit of the nation.

So I don’t see the anomaly there. It is in the manner of screening of PL applicants where the anomaly lies – the manner by which out and out fake party-list groups manage to get accreditation from the poll body.

I mean, how hard is it to spot a bogus party-list anyway?

Do we need an amendment to the law to be able to find out that an advocacy such as that of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) can not, in any way, claim that it is a marginalized sector and that Mikey Arroyo does not, in any way, qualify as a poor and underrepresented security guard?

But while I fully agree with the COMELEC Chief that the PL Law needs to be reexamined; his way of doing it, I think, could trample on the people’s right to proportional representation.

Chairman Brillantes is treading on dangerous ground when he said “the law has to be specific. For example, among the professionals sector, when you allow security guards [to be represented], then you have to allow other professions.”

It baffles me as to why the Honorable Chairman wants to ‘limit’ the number of marginalized sectors who wish to participate in the party-list elections.  The COMELEC should not be be putting fences, right? it should be encouraging wider participation in the system.

Therefore, his proposal to ‘specify’ the marginalized sectors in the law, if only to weed out bogus party-lists, I believe, won’t won’t hold water. This would likely end up becoming a stumbling block towards the law’s intent of  promoting  proportional representation.

What needs tweaking in the law is the provision on the qualification of party-list nominees. This is the reason why the likes of Mikey Arroyo and Gen. Jovito Palparan made it to Congress, through the party-list system.

According to RA 7941:

Section 9. Qualifications of Party-List Nominees. No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1)year immediately preceding the day of the election, able to read and write, a bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election.

So, a person such as the younger Arroyo need not be a security guard if he wants to represent security guards in Congress, if we are to follow the law.

Also, the P10,000 filing fee for filing of disqualification cases against bogus party-list groups should be scrapped.

Yes, the party-list system needs to be strengthened and protected from further abuse and bastardization. Yes, the party-list law needs to be revisited. But no, we should not curtail people’s  right to proportional representation.

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Kudos to Bayan Muna Party-list for filing House Resolution 2472 seeking to probe alleged ‘party-list accreditation bribery’ in COMELEC. The measure also calls for the abolition of the P10,000 party-list docket fee.