To guide voters in the upcoming 2013 elections of the upper house, I decided to study the campaign platforms of the major parties. This in a way is a follow-up to a previous post in which I detailed Five Ways to Elevate Political Discourse in the Philippines.
The first of the five points I made in that post was for the parties and/or their coalitions to publish their official platforms. I decided to do a web search to find out what these parties/coalitions have stated to voters as their policy directions once voted into office. Here is what I found.
Let’s start with the administration ticket. We have recently learned from the Comelec that Team PNoy was not officially registered as a formal coalition. It is to be treated as merely a “tagline”. So as far as having a formal platform on which to launch their candidates, I went to the Liberal Party website where the Team PNoy candidates are hosted.
Here I found very little regarding the legislative agenda the administration is presenting to the people. All that I found was the same old “platform” that the LP took to the electorate in 2010, which is really a kind of “party principles” or motherhood statements. There really isn’t any detailed policy agenda here.
Three years after taking charge of Malacañang Palace, I was expecting a bit more. If we as voters are being told to treat these elections as a referendum on PNoy’s presidency, there should at least be a list of his achievements and what he plans to carry forward towards the remainder of his term in office, with the team that bears his name.
I then did a web search of UNA (United Nationalist Alliance), the only officially registered coalition with the Comelec, an alliance comprised of the parties headed by the vice president, the senate president and a former president. Again I was disappointed, as all I found was a Facebook page with a brief mission and description of the coalition. It does not really provide any detailed platform or policies for the 2013 election.
So in terms of providing a detailed set of platforms, both major coalitions failed to even provide some kind of agenda for the Filipino people. That speaks volumes about our political system.
Next, I decided to go to the political parties that comprise these major coalitions. I already went to the Liberal Party’s website, as mentioned above. I then decided to visit the website of the Nacianalista Party (NP), the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), the Partido ng Demokratikong Piliono-Laban (PDP-Laban) and the Partido ng Masang Pilino (PMP). It was a dead end as most of these sites were empty shells or sites for their party heads. The NP site had some information regarding their three nominees, but most of the content was on the spouse of its president (the spouse is running to join him in the senate) and the foundation which they run.
Makabayan, which is fielding one senatorial candidate (it has dissolved its alliance with the NP), probably has the most detailed policy platform of all the major parties competing in this election. Their 10-point platform is discussed in detail in a document that you can download from their site.
The Democratic Party of the Philippines website contains a 12-point agenda that its three candidates support. Very little detail however is provided on this platform.
Ang Kapatiran’s website provides voters with their stand on 5 major issues, reproductive health, gun control, pork barrel, political dynasties and freedom of information. It also provides detailed policy positions on each of these issues. It also has a 50-point plan for the nation. It is fielding three candidates.
I couldn’t find anything on the Social Justice Society, which is fielding one candidate.
As far as I can tell from this quick web search, it is the alternative political parties which are more serious about developing policy platforms from which to launch their candidates. It is perhaps a sad feature of our democracy that the parties that respect voters enough by providing them with detailed information about their platforms are the ones lagging behind in the polls.
Undeterred by this dismal outcome, I then decided to look at the individual candidates themselves and here I found a bit more information regarding their policy stances and platforms. Off hand, I found eleven (UPDATE: as of 14 March 2013, it is now fourteen) who have outlined some sort of platform. These are Bam Aquino, Chiz Escudero, Risa Hontiveros, Loren Legarda and Koko Pimentel of Team PNoy, JV Ejercito, Gringo Honasan, Ernesto Maceda and Migz Zubiri of UNA, Teddy Casiño of Makabayan, and Greco Belgica of the DPP. (UPDATE: to this list we can now add Sonny Angara, Jack Enrile and Peter Cayetano)
I am not saying the other candidates don’t have platforms. They might not have released them yet or published them online. A lot of candidates have policy positions or advocacies listed on their personal pages. Some incumbent or former legislators provide detailed information regarding their priority bills. So the implied message here is that we should re-elect them based on their previous performance. It is preferable that they tell us why we should re-elect them. What is the work that remains for them to complete?
The absence of consolidated party platforms puts the burden of selecting the candidates based on their individual platforms onto the voter. This is made even harder by the scant or incomplete information that can be found regarding their positions and personal legislative agenda. The following is a run-down of what I found on the individual candidates.
- Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Jr – has a website that provides his profile and accomplishments as a legislator in the lower house. At the bottom of his home page, there is a video clip labelled, “Agenda ni Rep. Sonny Angara sa Senado” from a TV interview presumably, but it was not working at the time of this publication. (Update: he has been steadily updating his site with news from the trail which details his legislative agenda.)
- Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV – from his Facebook page you can read his policy prescriptions for encouraging entrepreneurship and skills matching. There are a few news releases which feature his statements and advocacies.
- Allan Peter Cayetano – has a Facebook page which shows him going out into the community but provides very little in terms of the sort of laws he has either sponsored as a senator or plans to push for if re-elected. (UPDATE: he has recently launched his platform here)
- Francis “Chiz”Escurdero – buried deep in his website is a 7-point agenda with no date.
- Risa Hontiveros – has Facebook page which provides some of her recent policy pronouncements particularly on making healthcare “more universal” and that of her Akbayan partylist members.
- Loren Legarda – has a website that lists her advocacies in the form of a useful acronym called L.O.R.E.N. From here you can read the sort of bills she has filed as senator some of which have been turned into law.
- Jamby Madrigal – has a website which details her policy stance on a number of issues and her past accomplishments as a senator. There is a non-functioning tab on her site for “Platform”.
- Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay, Jr. – does not have a web presence, but his profile in the senate website provides his bio and his legislative agenda while serving there.
- Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel III – has a Facebook page which provides some policy positions the senator has taken on infrastructure and governance.
- Grace Poe Llamanzares – has a Facebook page which does not really provide much in terms of a legislative agenda or her position on any relevant policy issues.
- Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV – has a website which provides information on the bills and resolutions he filed in two sessions of congress and some policy, research material mostly on national security issues which date back to 2001 and 2002.
- Cynthia Villar – has a website which details her accomplishments as a congresswoman and as the head of the Villar Foundation. Very little in terms of policy detail on how she intends to pursue her tagline “Hanep Buhay”.
- Nancy Binay – as a colleague from this site has said, she does not have a web presence at all.
- Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco – has a Facebook page which shows her two video advertisements. Unfortunately, apart from the endorsements of her three celebrity daughters and a few throw away lines about her advocacy, there is hardly any detail regarding what she plans to push for as senator.
- JV Ejercito – has a website which lists a 13-point agenda which the mayor of San Juan plans to pursue in the senate.
- Jack Enrile – has a Facebook page which contains a video of his campaign speech. He details the problem of hunger which he intends to focus on and nominates the bill he sponsored as congressman, which he claims will address it.
- Richard “Dick” Gordon – has a web Facebook page, but has very little information about why he is running.
- Gregoria “Gringo” Honasan – has a website which lists his platform as senator.
- Ernesto Maceda – has a website which lists a 13-point agenda which the former senate president intends to pursue if returned to the senate.
- Mitos Magsaysay – has an “official Facebook fanpage” which shows her touring as a candidate, but there does not seem to be any content devoted to policy detail.
- Miguel “Migz” Zubiri – has a website which details his platform around five themes.
- Sammy Alcantara (Social Justice Society) – has a Facebook page, which contains a short video clip in which he answers a few shallow media questions, nothing with regards to policies.
- Greco Belgica (Democratic Party of the Philippines) – has a four-point platform found in an image in his Facebook page.
- Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño (Makabayan) – has a website which contains a platform and policy positions on several issues.
- Lito Yap David (Kapatiran) – has a Facebook page but has nothing about his candidacy.
- Baldomero Falcone (Democratic Party of the Philippines) – has a Facebook page with hardly anything on it.
- Edward Hagedorn (Independent) – has a website but the vision and initiatives shown there deal with the city of Puerto Princesa where he is the mayor.
- Mars Llasos (Kapatiran) – has a blog which seems to be regularly updated.
- Ricardo Penson (Independent) – has a Facebook page which shows his anti-political dynasty advocacy. It seems he is campaigning mainly on this issue.
- John Carlos “JC” delos Reyes (Kapatiran) – has a Facebook page with no platform or policy positions.
- Christian Señeres (DPP) – has a Facebook page which has a video which shows his profile as a former partylist lawmaker and some policy positions.
- Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas) – has a website but it does not contain a platform or policy positions of any kind.
I am happy to be proven wrong. So should any of the candidates or their representatives wish to make corrections to this, the Comments page is most welcome for them to do so.