<![CDATA[Votenet Philippines - Thought Leaders]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:24:07 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Why Christians Should Get Involved in the Elections]]>Sat, 04 Jul 2015 05:01:53 GMThttp://votenetphilippines.weebly.com/thought-leaders/why-christians-should-get-involved-in-the-electionsBy Caloy Diño, General Secretary of Votenet Philippines

Sovereign Filipino People

The Gospel declares that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” He is the supreme authority in all heaven and earth. 

At the same time, the Bible teaches that all human authority comes from God. We hold on to the Apostle Paul's teaching that "there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1).

What we often forget is that in a constitutional democracy like the Philippines, the ultimate political authority resides in the "Filipino People" The preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution declares:
"We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution."

Democratic Elections: Grace of God to Filipinos

Being a democratic nation, whoever gets to serve as governing authorities are a collective decision of the Filipino people, done through elections. Not all nations have this privilege. Many countries are still under autocratic rule where people have no role in choosing their leaders. Others are failed democracies where powerful interest groups have corrupted the democratic processes to perpetuate themselves in power.

We are blessed because in the Philippines democracy remains vibrant, albeit imperfect. The right to vote is God's grace to the Filipino people.

We Get the Leaders We Deserve;
We Deserve the Leaders We Get

Grace given, however is accompanied by responsibility. God gave us the right to choose leaders, and we may use that faithfully to choose good leaders, or squander it to choose bad ones. Through elections, God gives us the leaders we deserve. And because God does not take away man’s responsibility for his decisions, we deserve the leaders we get.

Christians as Salt and Light in Philippine Politics

Of the more than 50 million registered voters in the Philippines, it is estimated that at least 10% or 5 million are evangelical Christians. As Christ's salt and light in Philippine society, it is our role to:
  • Seek God's will about the leaders we will choose
  • Influence other Filipinos to choose wisely
  • Ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that election results truly reflect the 'will of the people'
<![CDATA[On Citizenship]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2013 04:46:35 GMThttp://votenetphilippines.weebly.com/thought-leaders/on-citizenshipPicture
By Sukha Valdez of the DZAS Social Media Team. Sukha is an Information Management & Evaluation Research Specialist.

First of all, let me define Citizenship. I googled and found in Wikipedia this:

Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state or an association of states. It is normally synonymous with the term nationality although the latter term may also refer to ethnic connotations. Possession of citizenship is normally associated with the right to work and live in a country and to participate in political life. A person who does not have citizenship in any state is said to be stateless.
To be a citizen of a country therefore means three things: to live, to work and to participate in political life. However, it gives a person possessing Citizenship one important thing: her Rights.

I am borne from parents of Filipino heritage in the Philippines. Citizenship under the Philippine Constitution can be given to people whose parents are Filipino. Hence, I am a Filipino Citizen. Ergo, I have a right to live, to work, and to participate in this nation’s political life.

The right to live and to work are self explanatory. However, what I wanted to zero into is the right to political life. In many ways, politics for every Pilipino means barangay captain, congressman, or senator. It is also synonymous to voting, election, and worse case scenario, to dagdag-bawas, corruption, and “dayaan” (cheating). For someone like me who find such acts depressing and often times, “kagalit-galit,” we do not want to touch it within a ten-foot pole. We say to ourselves, why should I get myself too emotionally attached to something that is hopeless?

Now that I am writing this essay, I ask myself, is the Philippine political life really hopeless?

The reality is there are two phenomenons that are happening around us. While there are widespread corruption happening: the Maguindanao massacre, the prevalence of political dynasties, and unresolved fertilizer scam. There are also good things happening as well: the resolve of the DILG to pursue anti-epal policy, the detention of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in Veterans, and the good service delivery of Marikina City to its local constituents. Like the parable of the wheat and the tares, it both co-exist in the same plane.

The good news, while this phenomena is happening, we can rest assured that the tares will be plucked out in the field and be burned when the harvest day comes.

Who determines the seasons, and created the expanse of day and night?

It is God.

We know, no matter how seemingly powerful the tares in our Philippine political life , as it seemingly overcome the wheats from time to time, there is no doubt, when the right time comes, these tares shall be burned to the ground!


Therefore, for you and me, the ones who plow the wheats in the field. We should not tarry in working, in plowing, and in participating in the philippine political life as active citizens. We should continue to read our news, learn about the hot issues, and most of all, to pray for God to bless the Philippines.

To actively wait means, knowing when to take action.

You and I will know when it is time to burn the tares to the ground. The Lord of Harvests shall make you and I know it.
<![CDATA[Your RIGHT. Why Vote? ]]>Thu, 04 Apr 2013 00:33:56 GMThttp://votenetphilippines.weebly.com/thought-leaders/your-right-why-votePicture
This blogpost was written by Randy Valdez of the DZAS Social Media Team. Randy works for the NGO DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era).

What does it mean to have a ‘right’ to vote? Does this mean anyone can vote; even those people with disabilities and those without education and have no resources? Yes, anyone who is of the legal age of 18 and above, who is registered to the COMELEC’s (Commission on Elections) system can vote.

Today, people should understand that being able to vote is NOT a privilege, it is a right; an inherent right and a basic human right, along with ‘the right to live’, ‘right to an education’, and so on. No one should and can take away these rights from you. You are born with them. You can’t just buy and sell these rights. As part of the Philippine Constitution, there is an article on Suffrage:


Section 1: Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage. 
(Please see: http://www.chanrobles.com/article5suffrage.htm#.UTVfX6JTCSo).

Having the right to vote gives people ‘equal access to public access’. By voting, humans realize the basis of true democracy which is political participation. “The right of all people to vote in elections, without any discrimination, is one of the most fundamental of all human rights and civil liberties (par. 3).” One person one vote, there is no discrimination based on sex, age and gender. 

(Please see: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/human_rights/vote/index.html)

Now, should you or should you not exercise your right is up to you. However, it is of utmost importance if you do. Remember, the fate of this nation is in the hands of the voters. It is the people’s responsibility, if you love your country, to elect the right persons to lead the Philippines to progress and sustainable development.
<![CDATA[Fight. Finish. Be Faithful. And Pay it Forward]]>Fri, 22 Mar 2013 02:01:31 GMThttp://votenetphilippines.weebly.com/thought-leaders/fight-finish-be-faithful-and-pay-it-forwardPicture
"Fight. Finish. Be Faithful. And Forward--pay it forward."

This is the commencement speech delivered by Leonora Gonzales during the graduation exercises of St. Paul University, Tuguegarao, Cagayan on March 16, 2013. Nor Gonzales is the Sr. External Relations Officer of the World Bank office here in the Philippines.

Naimbag nga malem yo apo.

It is great to be a part of this wonderful celebration. Until now, I am still wondering why I was invited as your commencement speaker today.

I did not attend St Paul. Far from it, I am a product of the public school system. I had a few years of private school education from kindergarten to grade 4. But we were 4 children, and my parents, being government employees--- my mom, a public school teacher and my dad at the Philippine National Railways, did not have the means to see us through private school education. I am the third in the brood so while my two older siblings finished their high school and elementary, respectively, in the private school, my youngest brother and I had to transfer to a public school (Isabelo delos Reyes and then Jose Abad Santos High School) when it became extremely financially difficult as we got older.

I am also not from Tuguegarao. Pampanga po roots ng parents ko.

And most of all, I did not and do not hold public office. Neither could I boast of any major achievement. Sure, I work at the World Bank but usually, for big events like this, one invites the head - the man or woman at the top, and I am not! I am several notches below - in fact I tried to talk them out of this and convinced them to invite the head.

I am definitely not a politician nor a celebrity although i am proud to be an Aquino. Siguro pwede po ako magpanggap na ate ni Kris Aquino or best friend ni Boy Abunda.

Perhaps, my only claim to this status of being your commencement speaker is that this is my third time to be a commencement speaker - yes I am a veteran commencement speaker - the first time was when I was invited to speak at the elementary school where I graduated from, the second was when my husband and I spoke in the high school graduation of our children. Those were the days when I was relatively younger. Talaga po yata tumatanda na ako. Kasi na upgrade na po ang invitation sa akin. College commencement na po ang level ko yata ngayon.

Seriously, I consider this a great honor to be standing here. Not to mention that I could not say no to Sister Remy who, on behalf of St. Paul University, has been a long partner of the World Bank since 2004.
So bear with me - as I am your regular parent, employee, Filipino citizen, with no major accomplishment.
I would like to begin by telling you a story. I used to work for an NGO that gave free mental feeding activities to children. One of my colleagues then was handling the afternoon class of a public day care center. She told me that she noticed one of his students had been a habitual latecomer. Maybe an hour late. He would be coming, puffing and looking very tired and he would slump on his assigned desk whenever he arrived. She said that the boy was very smart and well-liked in class because he was friendly to everyone. My friend, the teacher, was getting really irritated. She gave an ultimatum to the boy and threatened him with disciplinary action. The boy, in tears, told her the real reason why he was always late, almost everyday, for an hour. As it turned out, this little boy had to wait for his other brother who was attending classes in the morning. He had to wait till he arrived because they shared one pair of shoes.

One pair of shoes for the two brothers.

As soon as his older brother would arrive, he would put on the shoes of his brother, (medyo malaki po to sa kanya) but never mind, he would put on these shoes and run as fast as he could to the school. Both boys walked to school. As the school is quite a distance, it took the older brother 30 minutes to walk and the younger one, the same time to walk to school from home. That’s why he is late, almost always, by an hour.
I started with this story because this experience has been a constant reminder to me of the gap between the rich and the poor. This is the reason why I chose to work in development through the NGOs working for health and nutrition of young children and giving microfinance services to the poor, and now, with the World Bank, a global institution that is trying to help governments end poverty and build shared prosperity.

As I enter the campus today, I thought: What was I thinking when I was your age, listening to the commencement speaker at my own college graduation in UP Diliman? With all due respect to him or to her, I do not remember anything.

Wala. As in wala talaga!

Kaya po ako ay nakikiusap sa inyo ngayon - makinig po kayong mabuti sa akin.

Graduates - please listen to me.

Parents, please pray that your children will listen to me.

I promise you it will be over after 10 minutes. For every minute I go overtime, please withdraw 100 pesos from the account of Sister Remy.

If there is anything I would like you to remember a year from now, 5 or 10 years from now, or many years from now, it is these 3 words--- Pay It Forward. Say this to the person next to you. PAY IT FORWARD.

While I was inspired by the movie with the same title, "paying it forward" means a lot more than what the movie depicted. It is a lot more than just having a warm feeling when you do good to another person. Here I would like to bring into the picture someone I greatly admire – a bright man, a scholar, a teacher, a writer, a leader I am trying to emulate, you all know him-- -- St. Paul. St. Paul, after his conversion, had a real change of heart that whatever he thought, whatever he did, whatever he said, in fact his whole life and ambition – he committed himself to repaying everyone with love, through the sharing of the love of God. In his letter to the Romans, he encouraged them to owe no one anything except to love one another. It short, he has taken the posture of being always in debt to other people.

What do you do when you owe someone money? The responsible thing to do is to pay him back. So St. Paul, once a persecutor of Christians, was so moved by God's grace and mercy, that he felt that the least that he could do since his conversion experience on the road to Damascus was to extend the same great love to his fellow men or women. Once the persecutor of the Christian believers, he knew he was forgiven much, so he had to give so much.

So here’s the first thing – to be able to pay it forward, it has to come from the heart and a firm resolve to make the lives of others better. Sabi nga ng mga taga Ateneo, “a man or woman for others.” Sabi ng mga taga UP, “sinong kikilos, kung hindi tayo kikilos?” Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?”

With this perspective, your definition of success will change. What is your definition of success? A high-paying job? Work abroad? A house and lot? Higher studies and a doctorate degree, perhaps? Listen to St. Paul who belonged to a great tribe, was educated well by the best scholar of his time, had a great position in society, but his definition of success was so different from many of us - in fact some of us may say, hello?! Mayron pa bang ganyan mag -isip?" To paraphrase his words, “whatever great qualifications I have, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish (basura!), compared to the gain I have in Christ.”

Please don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong in getting higher education and pursuing a job abroad or in Manila. But what should drive you to pay it forward is to have this perspective of what success is all about.
Graduates, you are very privileged to have reached this stage. Whatever your circumstances right now, whether you have worked your way through college, or under a scholarship, or under your parents scholarship, you have reached this stage and you deserve a big congratulations.

Remember this is a new beginning. Now, start to think how you can PAY IT FORWARD.
In paying it forward, remember those who have lesser in life. There are just so many poor in the country. As of 2009, we have more than 23 million poor kababayans.

Going back to my earlier story --- The story about the two brothers had a happy ending. How did I end up paying it forward? I did not shell out money for this boy. It so happened that my boyfriend then, who is now my husband, was working for a popular athletic shoe company. I asked him, “don’t you have shoes that did not pass the quality control standard of your company?” To cut the story short, without paying a single cent, several sacks of shoes, of various sizes and colors, were donated to the NGO I worked for by the shoe company, and that boy and his brother, as well as all the children in that day care center, had 2-3 pairs of shoes that year. On many occasions, money should not be a problem in paying it forward.

You will be looking for jobs. And many of you will leave Tuguegarao for better opportunities in Manila, other cities, or countries. I must be frank, however, with you -- not all of you will be able to get the jobs you or your parents have always dreamed of. Just last year alone, there were 10 million Filipinos who were either unemployed or underemployed. Every year, from this year to 2016, there will be an additional 1.1 million Filipinos who will enter the labor force. That is a total of 14.6 million jobs in 2016!

I am sorry to shock you on this happy occasion. But I want you to know the realities out there so you can think of how to pay it forward amid this huge jobs challenge.

I will give you a tip. Start to contribute to the development of rural areas. Be involved in agriculture to develop the countryside. Whatever your course, pay it forward by thinking of contributing to the greater good of others. Sounds quixotic? Just pay it forward, anyway. You don’t only address the needs of rural areas where most of the poor are but by developing the rural areas, you also create jobs for graduates like you and even undergraduates.

How do you do this?

Vote wisely this coming election. Vote for candidates that will promote policies and programs that will give improve the rural areas and create jobs or increase the incomes of farmers, fishermen, small landowners, and others. Pay it forward.

Participate and use the open space given you through blogs, twitter, Facebook, to contribute to an informed debate about the issues that affect the poor and how opportunities could be created to provide jobs to young people like you. Promote the kind of leadership that the late Mayor and DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo demonstrated in Naga City and in the Philippines. Mayor Robredo paid it forward by promoting his “tsinelas” style of leadership – willing to walk for the people and empowering them to make decisions for themselves.
Right after this program, determine to do your best and leave a mark of excellence in whatever you do. Be the best that you can be. Carry your faith wherever you go by leaving that Paulinian mark. And what is the Paulinian mark? Spirituality and Excellence. They go together. Whether you get into a job that is high or low in rank, give it your best shot. Kahit taga timpla ng kape or executive ka, do not settle for mediocrity. Pay it forward to the next batches of graduates of St. Paul by doing your best so that the future employers would be seeking graduates from St. Paul.

Di ba mas madali maghanap ng trabaho kapag ang employer mo would say, “this new graduate should be good. Paulinian yata iyan.”

When you get to a position of higher influence, remember to pay it forward, by bringing your faith to the corridors of power.

Some of you will work for the government or for the private sector, or be an entrepreneur. Whatever you do, stay clean. Have fun but stay clean.

Finally, the true mark of a Paulinian is to live the life that St. Paul lived. In his letter to Timothy he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

Three actions from St. Paul: Fight, Finish, Be faithful.

And I dare add a 4th action: Forward. Pay it forward.

Agyamanak apo. Dios ni kamu.

<![CDATA[The Senatoriables on Education]]>Thu, 31 Jan 2013 02:43:27 GMThttp://votenetphilippines.weebly.com/thought-leaders/the-senatoriables-on-educationPicture
Dr. Isagani Cruz wrote a piece on his interview with a number of Senatorial candidates on their views on education. This piece was originally published in the Philippine Star (philstar.com) on January 31, 2013 in his column, Mini Critique.

I have asked the senatorial candidates to send me a description of the first bill they will sponsor if they win this May. I will give you first their answers (edited in case they are too long for this column), and then give my opinion on what they intend to do. I will take up their answers in the order in which I receive them. (Senatoriables who have not yet responded to my request can still contact me through Facebook.)

From RAMON “JUN” MAGSAYSAY comes this message:

“I will introduce incentives for schools, colleges and universities and other education institutions to make use of the E-Commerce Law and the Internet as platforms to reach out of school youth and adults, even professionals to catch up and study more in-depth subjects and courses relevant to what they want to pursue.

“This new culture of democratizing education and knowledge will address the continuing increasing escalating cost of education, especially in the cities. The model has been set in California and Massachusetts, where the great universities of Stanford, the State Universities and even MIT and Harvard continue to develop Internet, Web-based courses available for free or almost-free for those who are interested to upgrade as needed for their growth within or outside their organization. This is exciting, and even chilling, as the old brick and mortars schools will soon find out that either they embrace the Internet culture or start to have less attraction for the new generation.”

Magsaysay clearly has his eyes set firmly on the future. The future of education is online, even if most of our cement-and-adobe schools are still in denial mode. Fortunately, some Philippine schools, such as UP with its Open University, have realized the potential of the Web.

As Magsaysay points out, and as I myself have mentioned in this column, the top universities in the world now give everyone a chance to listen to the lectures of their professors. Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, and other top schools offer online courses for free or even for credit.

Magsaysay, however, has to contend with some antiquated rules carried over from the last century, such as requiring schools to have a large land area or a library with printed books and journals. As a member of CHED’s Quality Assurance Team, I feel like a hypocrite when I have to force schools to buy printed books and journals when they already subscribe to online aggregators.

JV EJERCITO ESTRADA intends to refile his congressional bills to increase the subsidy for state universities and colleges.

Estrada vows to “propose a measure to allocate a portion of the funds (10% of the gross income) generated by PAGCOR to the 112 State Universities and Colleges as financial educational support of the government. He intends to ensure sweeping educational reforms for the country’s SUCs. He believes that education is a way out to poverty. He really wants to have a graduate for every poor Filipino family.”

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, I know that the government has an obligation to help citizens complete their education. College education is still necessary for certain fields, such as the professions.

On the other hand, the K to 12 reform aims to make every Grade 12 graduate employable or able to start his or her own business. The future Grade 12 graduates need not go to college to earn a decent living.

To channel scarce government funds to higher education rather than basic education may be a luxury the country can ill afford at the moment. If Estrada wants to ensure that poor families have at least one college graduate, perhaps he might want to think instead of ways for government to increase its support for private higher education. That would require legislation.

SAMSON ALCANTARA believes that “farmers till the soil, teachers till the mind.” For him, “Quality crops cannot be produced if farmers are hungry and unhappy. By the same token, quality education cannot be achieved if teachers are, like farmers, hungry and unhappy. This candidate, who is himself a teacher, will initiate the passage of a Teachers’ Code that will contain in a single enactment all the provisions on the rights and liabilities incident to the relationship of the teacher with the school, with the students, and with the parents.”

In addition, Alcantara “will push for the enactment of a law establishing a Teachers’ Bank where teachers and their families can obtain loans instead of being victimized by loan sharks, and where students can obtain educational loans under very liberal terms, instead of relying on educational plans offered by providers that may become bankrupt.”

Some years ago, Senator Manuel Villar unsuccessfully proposed the creation of a Philippine Teachers’ Bank after the Teachers Development Bank merged with Philippine Veterans Bank.

I think that Alcantara is better off sticking to his first (rather than his second) proposal. RA 4670 (The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers) needs to be revised and expanded to include private school teachers at all levels, as well as to take into account recent changes in educational theories.

Teachers today are no longer transmitters of knowledge. Many students know more than their teachers. The teacher-student relationship has to be rethought and relegislated.