Eirene Jhone Aguila
August 28, 2009
Nine weeks shy of the October 31 deadline for registration, sadly, the new registrants turnout has so far been alarmingly too few to realize the mantra—the youth is the future of this country. With the youth not all flocking to the registration stations to register one can suspect that indeed the face of the Philippine electorate will not change much this coming elections. And without this much needed infusion of idealism and change in the profile of our voters, non-traditional politicians will continue to remain a rarity. And if those who endeavor to line up for hours to register are not processed well or encouraged with assistance in the exercise, they will most likely not bother to vote on election day.
This is very unfortunate. Without this new wave of Filipinos entering our political arena, the new future we hope to see where good governance, ethical leadership and people empowerment are the norm will forever remain a dream.
Common reasons my many unregistered friends give for not registering are:
• No good apples to choose from, all rotten tomatoes
• What’s one vote?
• Too much hassle for a day plus I lose a day registering and another day voting then get stuck with mediocre politicians for three or six years (at least no hassle for not registering and a three-day vacation weekend if I don’t vote)
After asking, I usually get a “why do you still participate: register and vote, Eirene?” Truth be told, with every opening of the newspaper and with surveys showing the usual top six or ten names for President, it becomes more difficult to enthusiastically respond with my usual—“there is hope! We are that hope and it is our vote that helps realize the changes we wish to see in this country.” My cynicism would have long overtaken my feeling of hope and pride in our Filipino public officials had it not been because partly of my exposure to Kaya Natin! Getting to know the Kaya Natin! champions has given me actual reasons to say that there are good politicians worthy of our vote and the hassles that go with it—helping our country means helping get them elected which means my going out to register and casting my vote.
Nestled far-away in the mysterious Cordillera region is one such Kaya Natin! champion. You would think that nothing much happens up north, but in his recent state of the province address (SOPA), Gov. Teddy Baguilat Jr., gave us a peek into the dynamic province of Ifugao and the promise that having good leaders brings even to a place so far-away from Metro Manila:
• Gawis-Haggiyo mechanism, a first in the country, between Ifugao and Mountain Province for joint border operations against malaria
• Creation of 185 AYOD Community Health Teams: composed of male volunteers to ensure male involvement and local government support to community health and nutrition services (besides the usual women and health-care workers)
• Setting-up inter-local health zones for health sector cooperation among the municipal and provincial local governments (sharing of resources, technical expertise and best practices)
• More than P160-million assistance in health infrastructure and equipment (Ifugao General Hospital P50-million grant)
• United Nations Fund for Population Activities’ (UNFPA) expansion efforts throughout the province due to the good track record in reproductive health programs and the AYODs
• Setting up of Ifugao Land Management and Development Task Force providing legal framework and logistics for the IPs to get titles
• Second lowest poverty incidence in the Cordilleras at 33 percent
• Haggiyo Enterprise Development Program’s introduction of 20 Ifugao products into the market (has helped 36 organizations composed of 1,684 beneficiaries through training, equipment, promotion and exhibits and technical assistance)
• Organizing a network of organic producers with a P10 million pledge for agricultural research
• P4 million from the Bureau of Agricultural Research for organic vegetables, tilapia production and organic chicken raising
• Repairing irrigation systems and restoring collapsed terraces walls coupled with teaching indigenous knowledge to younger Ifugaos led to the steady stoppage of the deterioration of the terraces and loss of the Ifugao culture
• Support Infrastructure: Department of Agriculture for farm-to-market roads (P20 million), National Irrigation Administration (P50 million), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for fish tanks at the new Fisheries and Aquatic Research and Development Center (P1 million), National Economic and Development Authority’s P1 million for Ifugao breeding center, Department of Labor and Employment and Food and Nutrition Research Institute (P4 million) for various livelihood projects
• Multimillion projects CHARMP, Makamasang Tugon, ARISP III and climate change mitigation are coming in
• Fruitful fully sponsored official foreign trips—4th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive Health in Hyderabad, India (result: UNFPA expanding program to entire province), United States Ifugao Reunion in California (result: facilitation of the release of donations from the Ifugao Association in California for the Ifugao General Hospital), dialogue with Norwegian energy officials (result: SN Aboitiz, the joint Philippine-Norwegian corporation gave CSR funds—now used for construction of senior citizens’ center) and Cinque Terre, Italy (result: twinning agreement—sharing of several forms assistance and tourism)
A month ago, I had a dare to our public officials—come out with your accounting. Tell us, your constituents, what you have done for your province, town or country. What have you done as a legislator? As a local chief executive? Especially for those who intend to seek reelection or make a bid for another office, instead of your multimillion ads and fancy show biz gimmickry, tell us what you have done to promote good governance, ethical leadership and people empowerment. Perhaps, that will give us the youth, a renewed sense of hope and will encourage us to go out and register (here’s hoping your silence will fire us up to register and vote to make sure and get you out).