By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
I had been expecting the different church denominations, as they are considered at least non-partisan, to be in the forefront of the voters’ education and election watch effort. At least their being non-partisan is compatible with the constitution’s provision on the separation of church and state.
To my dismay, however, Mike Velarde was on the news with his evangelical group’s latest move of endorsing the Domogan-Vergara tandem in Baguio City. (Reelectionist Rep. Mauricio Domogan is running together with a full slate for elective city officials led by former mayor Bernardo Vergara.)
Velarde has all the right to endorse anybody. But with him speaking as a personality of a powerful evangelical group, people are now somewhat confused as to the delineated separation of church and state.
But aside from the above-mentioned point, I would also like to remind all that the politicians endorsed by Velarde in the past were implicated in questionable transactions that had caused damage to the city’s interests. For example, City Hall entered into Jadewell’s street-parking scheme during the time of Domogan. Concerned citizens have been pointing to the same politicians for their involvement in privatizing the market through the UNIWIDE scheme, including the development of Club John Hay where the share of the city remains unpaid.
The question now is: Does Mike Velarde condone also the alleged anomalous transactions where these said politicians are implicated? Or was the endorsement given in consideration of some amount? I’m just asking!
We offer an unsolicited advice for Mike Velarde: Please let the people of Baguio decide on the fate of these politicians! Our people are capable of making this decision, and they will do so come the May 14 elections, based on the past records of these politicians.
The election campaign in the city is getting hotter and hotter like the summer heat. My friends from the different barangays have been providing information that pigs are being butchered.
What is the significance of this? My informants say that pigs are butchered to court more votes. I urged them to document this campaign method, by taking pictures and documenting basic information, such as who are involved, and when and where it happen, among others. I urged them to see a lawyer for their affidavit – a paper that may help if a case is filed against those involved in this kind of campaigning. This tactic can be considered as vote buying, with people’s votes being treated as cheaply as a kilo of meat.
I urged my informants to convene meetings instead, where they may invite the candidates. In such kind of venue, people can present their issues to the politicians. If the candidates will support their issues, then they can sign a covenant that voters can invoke in case they win.
Let us try to use the electoral campaign to educate the politicians on people’s issues, and not for us to listen to their promises. Some Baguio communities, such as a people’s organization in barangay Irisan, have already drafted their community agenda and presented these to the candidates. They later plan to use their agenda to scrutinize the performance of those elected to public office.
A pastor from Irisan wrote a letter to the editor, which we printed last week. I learned that the kabayans of the incumbent congressman has been scolding him. I salute this pastor for his brave condemnation of patronage politics, despite his scolding, and for his continued advocacy of the politics of issues. #