There is a growing clamor among civil society leaders to take back politics from the control of politicians and bring it back as an instrument for governance and development. As a start, there were initial discussions of a partisan involvement in the 2010 elections. An emerging initiative is the Change Politics Movement (CPM) which aims to rally its members around a criteria and process for selecting candidates which they will eventually support and campaign for. Initially, the following criteria serves as a basis of unity for those joining the CPM:
CHANGE POLITICS MOVEMENT:
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
1 May 2009
In drawing up the criteria for selecting a presidential candidate, we would like to avoid the following pitfalls:
• “All-or-nothing” approach in viewing candidates’ commitment /responses to our desired principles and practices
• Inordinate sectoral/localized bias to the neglect of broader, cross-cutting, national agenda
• Formulation of principles/practices in broad “motherhood” terms that fail to provide concrete basis by which to assess prospective candidates’ capacities to assume the country’s highest public position
FRAMEWORK IN FORMULATING/ORGANIZING CRITERIA FOR SELECTING CPM’S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
The basis for to assessing and eventually selecting CPM’s presidential candidate shall consist of three categories:
1. Integrity and Track Record
By their past actions and choices, we shall know them. Presidential aspirants don’t come to our attention in a vacuum or with a clean slate. Whether in public or private roles, they have made choices, championed causes (or not), selected the company they move in, steered their career (and family) in certain directions. We cannot and should not rely just on promises for future action. By their past, they have given us a strong indication of how they will run the country and where they will take it. Thus, our first category of criteria is Integrity and Track Record.
2. Immediate, Strategic Agenda to Stop the Slide and Restore the Philippines in the Track of Democratic Reform and Good Governance
The next President has the difficult task of leading the country out of what is arguably its darkest period in recent history. The next President needs to have a firm sense of how s/he will pull the country out of its current morass and restore it in the direction of Democratic Reform and Good Governance in a period of extreme challenges confronting the entire globe. Without abandoning our specific sectoral agenda, we need to be able to push for the next President to boldly undertake a strategic national agenda which will address immediate, lynchpin issues and problems necessary to reverse the grievous impact of the past years of mis-governance and abuse and, thus, allow the space and momentum to build towards sustainable reform and development outcomes. Thus, our second criteria-category is the candidates’ proposed Immediate, Strategic Agenda for the presidency.
3. Capacity to Win Power for Reform
For a candidate’s good track record to be put behind and realize his/her bold reform agenda, however, the candidate will have to win the elections. S/he will have to be able to seriously engage in a national electoral contest for the highest position in the land. Thus, our third category is the Capacity to Engage in National Electoral Contest – the Capacity to Win Power for Reform.
CHECK-LIST ON CRITERIA FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (PC)
1. Integrity and Track Record
1.1 Character and Credibility
• Has the PC held positions requiring public trust and credibility?
• Has the PC been implicated in corruption or grave public scandal? What about the PC’s family members or close associates?
• What is the reputation of the people who are most closely associated with the PC?
• Has the PC been transparent in his/her transactions, whether in public office or in a private capacity?
• Has the PC ever been caught lying, cheating, stealing or applying double-standards in public or private transactions?
• Can we trust the PC to do what s/he says and to give us the real picture on the problems facing the country?
• What is the PC’s track record in human rights, including respect for women and children within his/her immediate circle of association?
• Has the PC demonstrated a love of country and value for the common good above the interests of one’s family or close associates?
• What positions has the PC held up to now? Have these positions provided sufficient experience and preparation to run an entire country?
• Has the PC had dealings of any sort with the bureaucracy? With what result?
• How about the PC’s dealings with public agencies? The private sector? The NGOs? The basic sectors or people’s organizations? Did s/he promote meaningful participation of these sectors in his/her previous positions in government or in the private sector?
• What has been the PC’s experience in bringing about multi-sectoral discourse and consensus?
• Has the PC had any experience in foreign policy? Has s/he had experience in dealing with the security sector?
• What is the PC’s background in economics and/or finance?
1.3 Leadership and Politics
• If the PC has previously been engaged in politics, what has been the PC’s party record? Is s/he a good party person, respecting and strengthening change politics practice within the party?
• Has the PC’s family or close associates ever taken advantage of the PC’s position of power or authority, whether in public service, the private sector, or civil society?
• Has the PC faced important crisis situations? How did the PC fare? Was s/he able to take the lead and inspire others to face and overcome the crisis?
• Does the PC have a constituency base among the basic sectors, including minority and marginalized groups? Is his/her relationship with the constituency empowering or patronage-based?
• Has the PC been able to inspire and mobilize citizens to correct a particular injustice in his/her area of responsibility?
1.4 Position Taken on Issues
• What position, if any, did the PC take on the following issues, especially within the last 3-5 years?
Political Reform (especially Electoral Reform and Decentralization/Local Autonomy)
Good Governance (especially Anti-Corruption, Anti-Presidential Abuse of Power)
Asset Reform (specifically, Agrarian Reform, Urban Land Reform, Fisheries and Aquatic Reform, and Ancestral Domain Rights)
Environment and Sustainable Agriculture (especially Mining and Sustainable Farming Practices)
Human Rights (specifically, the issue of Extra-Judicial Killings and Martial Law –like Abuses by the military and the police)
Peace and Development (especially on issues of Equitable Budget for Mindanao, Resource Use for Mindanaoans, and Bangsamoro/Lumad Right to Self -Determination)
• Aside from the list above, what other issues has the PC championed? What have been the hallmarks of the PC’s public advocacy in the course of his/her career or voluntary engagement?
2 Immediate, Strategic Agenda for the Presidency
Considering the current dismal state of Philippine democracy and governance, the following are the strategic, lynchpin issues which the next President should address. We will therefore ask the PC how s/he intends to address the following agenda within his/her “first 100 days,” without requiring any new legislation or constitutional revisions/amendments:
2.1 To immediately stop the plunder of public coffers (e.g., How will the PC handle GMA, her family and cohorts?)
2.2 To rebuild and strengthen democratic institutions (e.g., What is the PC’s plan with regard constitutional bodies? What is the PC’s proffered policy on presidential appointments? How will the PC restore checks-and-balance within the executive and across the three branches of government? How will s/he balance respect for the autonomy of the LGUs and ensuring their compliance with national laws/priorities esp. on asset reform, people’s participation and anti-corruption.? How does s/he view civil society/basic sector participation in established governance bodies, especially NAPC, Presidential Agrarian Reform Commission (PARC), National Commission on IPs (NCIP) and the local development councils?)
2.3 To raise sufficient resources and ensure proper allocation and spending of public resources for priority programs (e.g., What is the PC’s plan for raising public revenues and what are the priority programs on which public resources will be allocated? How will s/he ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the national budget?)
2.4 To raise productivity (especially in the rural areas) and ensure fair distribution of assets of production, benefits and public funds (e.g., What is the PC’s plan for raising national productivity, especially in the countryside? How will the PC ensure that the costs and benefits of development will be justly shared? How will s/he push asset reform in his/her “1st 100 days”, specifically distribution of CARPED landholdings, delineation of municipal waters, issuance of Certified Ancestral Domain Titles, the proclamation of urban lands for the urban poor?)
2.5 To ensure social protection for the poorest and most marginalized sectors and communities (e.g., What is the PC’s proposed program to protect the poorest and weakest from the onslaught of the global economic recession? Where will the funds come from and how will s/he make sure that the programs reach the intended beneficiaries?)
2.6 To set the foundation for restoring the peace track with armed parties (e.g., Does the PC have a plan with regard the government peace panels and OPAPP? What about the reports of the UN Human Rights Rapporteur, the Melo Commission, and the Commission on Human Rights?)
3 Capacity to Win Power for Reform
Objective measures will be used to assess the PC’s capacity to seriously engage in the electoral contest for the highest position in the country which will be held within one year of the launching of CPM. These measures will include looking at the PC’s –
• Level of public recognition on a national scale
• Actual and potential extent of support constituency
• Access to or capacity to raise needed funds
• Actual presence of organized support and machinery in different parts of the country
• Alliances with other political forces
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DONT AGONIZE! ORGANIZE!