Saturday, September 21, 2019

Velez: Let’s be honest about elections


ALL politicians lie.

I first heard of this maxim from one senior journalist who mentored me.

I hear this line again, as well as the rest of the country, surprisingly, from Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio when she responded to questions about one of her candidates’ graduation record and another one’s issue of using government funds for money.

All politicians lie, is this an issue?

Yes it is. Public service is a public trust.

But I get what the mayor meant when she wanted more issues and platforms to be raised by media.

That’s another truth. Let’s be honest that elections have always been about who gets the biggest votes with the machinery of dynasty, dirty tactics and disinformation as what columnist Tonyo Cruz defines.

But can we have real issues discussed during elections? It’s a challenge for all, the candidates, even the media, and to the voters.

For instance, March 3 was the 24th anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act. Large-scale mining and its impact to the environment, ancestral communities and our future should be serious matter.

Surigao provinces have seen severe erosion and flooding in years due to large-scale mining. Pantaron Range, one of the few remaining biodiversity area in the country which lies in Talaingod, is threatened with mining and a road-widening project.

Have candidates raised their stand to stop this large-scale mining? Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares called for the repeal of the Mining Act and to replace it with a law that nationalizes and rationalizes mining, and he has campaigned for that even in his stint as Congressman.

And since International Women’s Day was commemorated a day ago, can the candidates push the women agenda which also runs across all sectors.

Lumad, Moro and peasant women have borne the pain of displacements and wars especially with Martial Law in Mindanao.

Women in urban poor feel the burden of unemployment, high prices due to Trains law, and demolition. Then there is the threat from the war on drugs.

We have women candidates but most have inherited this from their families and thus, carry on the same power structure that enforces the hardships and oppression on women.

These are real issues that cannot be solved by song, dance, one-liners in debates. It could be better if candidates can travel by bus to these communities and live with the poor in hand-to-mouth existence. There you can test if they mean what they say about their promises.

And if promises cannot be delivered, then we better be honest about how to deal with them.


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