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Elections and Sendong

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Elections and Sendong

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/columnist1/13724-elections-and-sendong

Our newest batch of Kaya Natin! Champions of Good Governance and Ethical Leadership

The Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership (KN), a national movement initially convened by the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government in 2008 recently welcomed five new Champions of Good Governance into its fold. The movement counts Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, former Pampanga Gov. Among Ed Panlilio and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, Grace Padaca as among its founders. Aside from them, other Champions of Good Governance currently include Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Quezon City 3rd district Rep. Bolet Banal, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., AKBAYAN Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Alicia, Isabela Mayor Jeng Reyes and former San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Mayor Sonia Lorenzo, who is also the current Executive Director of the Union of Local Authorities ofthe Philippines (ULAP). There are currently 27 KN Champions who come from different areas all over the Philippines.

New champions of good governance


The newly inducted Champions of Good Governance include current Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte-Alimurung of Quezon City, Rep. Erin Tañada of Quezon, Councilor Aura Landar of Passi City, Ilo-Ilo, Councilor April Dayap of Davao City and Brgy. Captain Caesar Marquez of Brgy. Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Belmonte-Alimurung was cited for her accomplishments in the promotion of local tourism and the effective implementation of livelihood programs for women from depressed communities in Quezon City. Tanada was cited for his continued fight for transparency and public accountability by being one of the main proponents of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Landar and Dayap were both cited for their programs that help promote access to quality basic education among the youth in their communities. As the first barangay captain to be inducted as a KN Champion, Marquez was cited for transforming his barangay into one of the most child-friendly barangays in Metro Manila. All KN Champions were selected based on their proven ability to practice effective, ethical and empowering leadership.

Padaca visits University of Cebu


These new batch of KN Champions will now take part in the movement’s Caravan of Good Governance that aims to share inspiring their inspiring leadership stories to colleges and universities all over the country. Recently, Padaca through the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty and Freedom visited the University of Cebu where she encouraged student leaders of the school to become active agents in promoting transparency and public accountability among their local government officials. At the same time, Padaca reminded them of the enormous power the youth can have especially in electing better government leaders for our country.

Elections and Sendong


The massive destruction and loss of lives that typhoon Sendong has left in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan serves again as a grim reminder that we should never take our environment for granted. Many environment experts have already predicted that if illegal logging and deforestation activities continue all throughout our country, we will experience more tragedies such as this. It is very important for our government officials led by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Ramon Paje to immediately penalize and punish private businessmen as well as government officials that have perpetuated these acts. Unless we see people behind bars, we will see more these brazen acts of destroying our environment for one’s self interest.

As ordinary citizens especially those that have witnessed and experienced the effects illegal logging and illegal mining activities in their communities, this should also serve as a lesson to take our elections more seriously so that we will be able to elect better government leaders who will protect the environment and promote the common good. We should also take part in activities, institutions and organizations that promote voters education and will ensure clean, fair and honest elections so that we can finally have government leaders who will not use their power and position to enrich themselves and their families.

Start the New Year right with Success Source


What better way to start and kick off the New Year than with a series of inspiring talks filled with important lessons of success from notable young leaders of our country. The Asia Society Philippines will be holding Success Source: New Ways to Succeed series, a series of talks for students and young professionals that aims to shed light on the different aspects of success through the young and successful Filipino leaders of today’s generation. It aims to inspire participants to come up with their own innovative ways to success. With the fast paced development and progress of today’s global community, there are always new ways to discover to succeed. Starting January 2012, we will be having 3 separate sessions focusing on the different aspects of success specifically business and finance, education and travel.

Those who would like to register and take part in these interesting talks should contact Migel Estoque at (02) 752-4374 or you can send an email to info@asiasociety.org.ph.

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Choices

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Choices

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/111-columnist/8722-choices

WHEN I was still young, I remember watching a Pepsi commercial saying that “we seal our fate with the choices we make.” If there is one very important skill that you have to learn early on in life it is the ability to be able to make sound and wise decisions. This is a life skill that we not only need in our personal lives but also in our professional careers. Oftentimes, the thin line between success and failure becomes dependent on the kind of decisions that we make. I have a friend who lost his entire livelihood just because he made a wrong decision of failing to take time to understand the different consequences of the decisions that he made.


Parents as teachers


Parents are challenged to train and teach their children to make good decisions early on in their life.

Decision-making cannot simply be learned by reading a book, it has to learned through constant experience like riding a bicycle or swimming. I remember that as early as when I was in Grade 1, my parents would already give me opportunities to hone my decision-making skills by making me decide on what food should I buy given my limited allowance or what kind of toy would I buy every time I would be given an academic award in school. These simple decisions have taught me to think before I act which is very important since oftentimes many of us tend to simply make a decision based on intuition or whim.

Parents should not be afraid to see their children commit mistakes early on in life since these are learning experiences for their children so that when bigger, tougher life decisions have to be made, their children would be better prepared to handle them. Many children grow up being averse to taking risks or making decisions because they were always protected by their parents who made the decisions for them. Instead of protecting our children from taking risks, parents should instead provide pointers or guidelines to their children on how they can make sound decisions.

My parents always taught me that in making decisions, one should always look ahead to the future as to how a particular decision will have an effect in my life. I was taught that one should not only look at the positives in a particular decision but more importantly, the negative consequences that it might have not only to me but also to those around me.

Aside from this, my parents have always reassured me that there is nothing wrong with committing mistakes as long as you learn and grow from these experiences. This is perhaps the reason why I have been able to start several organizations that help promote access to quality education and good governance in our country because I am less afraid to take risks because of the formation given to me by my parents when I was growing up.

Decisions for the country


As we grow up, we realize that decisions have become an integral part of not only our lives but also the life of our nation. There is a reason why there is a minimum age before one can participate in our local and national elections. At 18 years old, the state presupposes already that a person has had enough education and experience to make a well-thought of decision in choosing the right leaders for our country. Sadly, this is not the case for many Filipinos who still do not take this political exercise seriously.

The consequences of making poor decisions in elections have a huge impact in our lives as seen in the recent calamities which caused much flooding in Pampanga, Isabela, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. The reason for this massive flooding is not just the rainwater from typhoons Pedring and Quiel. This was further aggravated by the rapid deforestation that has occurred in our mountains particularly the Sierra Madres. Without trees whose roots absorb the rain, water will naturally flow down from our mountains into our communities. This, again, caused major damage and even casualties this past week.

Deforestation has been perpetuated because our local officials and even our police force have tolerated and even corruptly supported illegal logging activities through the decades. It is actually very ironic that the some of these local leaders that have benefited from these illegal logging activities are now the ones who are trying to win the hearts of people by leading the rescue and relief efforts.

If every Filipino would just learn to make wiser, better decisions such as choosing not to sell his/her vote and choosing to vote for a candidate based on qualifications, platform and virtues then I am sure that many of these social problems that we face right now can be solved.

Hopefully, the next generation of Filipinos will be taught and trained well by their parents and schools to have the necessary skills and competencies to make better decisions for our country since, as we are learning now, a simple decision can make or break our nation.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

Remember Hello Garci? Reform COMELEC now!

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano

Reform COMELEC now

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/39735-reform-comelec-now

If there is one democratic institution that I hope to see major reforms being implemented at this year, it is the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which is mandated by our Constitution to conduct fair, clean and honest elections. The Comelec is very critical to our country’s growth and development since it is through the workings of this institution that we are able to select the right leaders for our nation. Sadly the credibility of the COMELEC along with its leaders has deteriorated steadily even as it proudly trumpeted its achievement of the first ever automated elections in our country held last May.
One of the major reasons for the lack of trust in the Comelec is its inability to enforce its own election laws, foremost of which is managing election spending and curbing rampant vote buying. Although we all know for a fact that vote buying has become a norm in our elections, I haven’t heard of any candidate who has been disqualified due to this illegal act. In the last elections, we saw several national candidates who clearly exceeded the maximum amount that one can spend during a campaign and yet not one of them was disqualified.

Due to this sad state of our electoral system, it is no wonder why many politicians would rather resort to conducting illegal activities and even bribing Comelc officials just to be able to win. In fact, I also haven’t seen any Comelec official who has been jailed for electoral fraud like what former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio “Hello Garci” Garcillano did during the 2004 national elections. It doesn’t also help that the resolution of protests in our Comelec and other judicial bodies take so much time that by the time a resolution comes out, the rightful winner will only have a few weeks left to serve his term.

This already presumes that the complainant is able to cough up millions just to be able to file his protest. Recently, a losing candidate who was clearly cheated in her province lamented to me that she had to raise more than P5 million just to be able to file a protest. This kind of scenario incentivizes cheating and fraud while putting upright and honest candidates at a huge disadvantage.

It also forces our political leaders to compromise their values and principles as they begin to accommodate bribe money from drug lords and jueteng lords so that they will have enough funds to again win in the next elections. Thus, it is no surprise that despite several efforts made by our national leaders, jueteng and illegal gambling continues to remain a perennial problem all over our country since many of our local officials continue to remain beholden to these gambling lords.

Aside from these, a major effect of a flawed electoral system is also seen in the delivery of basic services in our country. Government has become a business for many of our political leaders who treat election spending as an investment wherein when one gains the position, he or she profits from this investment by participating in graft and corrupt acts. An example is the overpricing of school bags wherein instead of paying only P60 per school bag, the mayor pays the supplier double the price so he also gets a percentage from the sale. So instead of being able to provide school bags to all students of his local government unit, the mayor is only able to provide half due to the overpricing.

Another is through road and infrastructure projects wherein huge contracts are awarded to favored contractors who then deliver substandard quality so as to maximize the amount that can be given to the government official. We see this so often when our roads would only last a few months, then they would have to be repaired or constructed all over again. In the end when these kinds of corrupt practices happen, it is the general public and the ordinary Filipino who is shortchanged since they do not receive the kind of basic services that they deserve.

Now, with the recent appointment of Atty. Sixto Brillantes as the new Comelec Chairman, we hope that much needed reforms are implemented not only in the national level but more importantly in the local Comelec offices all over the country.

This coming August, unless President Noynoy Aquino decides to postpone it, we will be conducting the elections for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Elections in ARMM are often marred by violence and massive fraud. Thus, this will be a test case for the new leadership on whether it can implement clean and honest elections in this region.

Aquino will also be naming two new Comelec commissioners with the departure of Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer and Gregorio Larrazabal this coming February. I hope that he would appoint reformists who have unquestionable integrity and character to replace Ferrer and Larrazabal. As an advocate of good governance in our country, I have always stressed that it is only by reforming our electoral system and Comelec that we can continue to grow as a true democracy that respects the real voice of the Filipino people.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com