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March 28 - April 3, 2015

Candidates should reveal their agenda
By ANTONIO M. REYES

Next year we will again be courted by candidates who are in power, and those who want to take their place. Below are some suggestions for a more meaningful political campaign.

We’ve tried holding debates in the past, but they were too scripted, and partial to certain candidates. To avoid this in the coming election, we suggest we do away with the negativism that dominated our past elections, and focus instead on the programs of each major candidate.

To attain this, let’s request them to present their plans to help improve the lives of our people. In short, what do they consider our major problems, and how do they intend to address them?

What are their policies regarding river mining, the current coconut infestation, rising teenage pregnancies, the drug epidemic, juvenile delinquency, and our reliance on imported products we use to produce abundantly? How would they deal with the excessive red-tape that is hampering small and medium enterprises in Southern Leyte?

In tourism we have a ZOO that is operated by a business group we know nothing about. While Limasawa the crown jewel of our tourism industry because of its history and world renowned dive sites remains neglected and still has only 8 hours of electricity daily, no adequate potable water supply, and no roads linking its 7 barangays together.

They should explain what has happened to our plan to transform the province into the “playground” of Eastern Visayas? Would they continue pursuing this goal, and if not, what alternatives have they chosen to replace it?

Our Fresh water aquifers are fast drying up yet we still don’t have any sizeable reservoirs to impound our fresh water in - so it all ends up in the sea. While most of the national field offices here treat the information they are supposed to provide the public as “confidential” and for their eyes only.

They should also explain what they will do to save our coconut industry (which according to the Philippine Coconut Authority’s Regional office) has lost 50% of its annual yield due to a tiny coconut devouring insect called Brontispa Longissima.

These are but a few of the problems our candidates should address during their campaigns, so we can decide, whether they deserve our votes or not.

Let’s just remember, when we vote this coming election, that the leaders we choose are a reflection of ourselves. If they are corrupt, it’s because they had to buy our votes, and sincerely believe they have the right to recover their investment any way they can.

Antonio M. Reyes is the publisher and editor of the Southern Leyte Times the largest circulating newspaper & website in Southern Leyte.

Calvary for BBL
Atty. Jess G. Dureza

Christianity's traditional annual "Calvary” will be over soon. But for the peace workers and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the long road of Calvary is still continuing. When Philippine chief peace negotiator, Prof. Miriam "Iye" Coronel - Ferrer called me by phone soon after Mamasapano to clarify certain points on the "coordination" issue hounding the incident, I clearly recalled my parting words for her. I told her: "Iye, I dread being in your shoes at this time".

"CATCH 22" -- Indeed, I was in those very same shoes before as peace negotiating panel chair from 2001 to 2003. I tell you, it's not an easy job. Worse, it's a thankless job. It puts one in a "catch 22" situation, meaning whichever way a negotiator goes, he or she is in a bind and in an unenviable position. Why so? Simply because the task is not only to negotiate with the armed rebels on the OTHER SIDE of the negotiating table. Unknown to many, the equally difficult task is the "negotiations" that a negotiator must do with those on the SAME SIDE of his table.

Meaning, your own colleagues in government and the public at large who usually disdain giving favors or concessions to armed rebels who are
understandably perceived as "enemies" or the "bad guys" who blackmail government. Let's not forget: rebels take up arms because they cannot get redress for grievances within the normal system or they use the force of arms to seek demands.

Hence negotiating with them to forge agreements is a tricky and sensitive work. Most important of all, factor in the fact that all rebels (MILF, CPP-NPA-NDF, MNLF) consider it a matter of negotiating principle that they do NOT adhere to nor do they operate within the ambit of our laws
and Philippine Constitution while our own government negotiators MUST NOT go beyond those sacrosanct parameters. How to navigate this is
inscrutable to ordinary mortals. But negotiators must somehow find a way.

I can tell you that the work of a negotiator is not an easy job. One usually walks a tight rope. And in the eyes of the public, any error in judgment is the negotiators’ responsibility. The whole government though must bear responsibility - the President primarily.

CALVARY - Today, how we deal with the present challenges and discordant noises involving the proposed BBL will be crucial. But in the meantime, it is still a continuing Calvary for Chair Iye Ferrer, together with all those who work for peace -- including the BBL as well. Whether BBL's "crucifixion" will eventually come now or later is of no moment.

Whatever happens in the unsettled maze of Mamasapano, I am confident that all peace efforts are bound to somehow "resurrect". Maybe not now. But inevitably later.

Atty. Jesus “Jess” Dureza served in various capacities under the Ramos and Arroyo administration, including the post of Press Secretary and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. He is the current Chairman of the Philippine Press Institute.






 

 

 

   

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