What 1Sambayan Needs: Broader Representation, Concrete Electoral Agenda (5Ks: Kabuhayan, Karapatan, Kalayaan, Kapayapaan, at Katarungan)

This short note is a reflection on my participation via Zoom in 1Sambayan’s public launch.

1Sambayan’s mention of good governance, human rights, and poverty alleviation as cornerstones of what candidacies should campaign for, is a positive start, but much needs to be done. This short note intends to contribute something towards that goal.

It is suggested that before any talk of choosing candidates or forming a unified/unity slate, 1Sambayan’s broad array of democratic forces should start building consensus on the minimum electoral agenda/platform/program that will be used as a standard in choosing candidates or forming a slate. In other words, platforms BEFORE personalities, and even after that, platforms OVER personalities. We have to accept the fact that personality-based politics is one of the actual hindrances to the implementation of meaningful reforms. We have had centuries of a politics of failed personalities. It’s time to really focus on platforms.

A catchy summation of minimum platforms would be desirable. I propose 5Ks: Kabuhayan, Karapatan, Kalayaan, Kapayapaan, at Katarungan.

KABUHAYAN: immediate economic relief for the poor and the middle class (national minimum wage closely approximating the family living wage – around 1,000 pesos daily; income tax reduction, preferably capping the maximum personal income tax rate at 20% as compared with Singapore’s 22%; abolition of Value-Added Tax/VAT on all medicines, food, basic commodities, electricity, water, internet, house rents etc.; government payment of housing deposit/downpayment for every citizen who wants to purchase his/her first home/house and regulating all housing loan rates offered by commercial banks to ensure that they go as low as or even lower than Pag-ibig Fund rates; reversal of rice tariffication in favor of strengthening local production; genuine universal health care, where all services are 100% free of charge at point of use, with no co-payments whatsoever).

KARAPATAN: ensuring protection for human rights, labor rights, peasant land rights etc. (scrapping of the Terror Law; banning of retired military officials in Cabinet posts, except for the National Defense portfolio; end of oppressive and exploitative labor contractualization schemes; expansion and completion of rural land reform program; implementation of urban land reform)

KALAYAAN: fighting for our national sovereignty and securing our national patrimony

KAPAYAPAAN: resumption of social reform-oriented peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF (peace talks shall focus on socio-economic reforms that address the root causes of insurgency)

KATARUNGAN: justice, good governance, and accountability (swift prosecution of cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests etc.; full recovery of past regimes’ ill-gotten wealth; passage of an enabling law for the Constitution’s anti-dynasty provision to be finally implemented; minimum 6% of the GDP spending for education – as per UNESCO’s standards; scrapping of automatic debt appropriations and a general debt audit towards repudiation of onerous debts; reduction of maximum amount of allowances for all members of the House of Representatives and Senate, the Cabinet etc.; reduction of top-heavy bureaucracies in some government agencies; credentials-based screening for Cabinet nominees).  

Prioritizing agenda-setting and agenda-building is a must, because it is the only effective springboard towards uniting many blocs into one coherent coalition.

Choosing candidates will be easier once the electoral agenda/program has been deliberated upon, approved and accepted by the whole array of democratic forces. This will be our glue, something to bind us into, a new social contract towards a maginhawang buhay for all Filipinos. Furthermore, such program will be our lens, our microscope in scrutinizing whether or not a candidate is desirable or not. They will have to be bound with the people’s electoral agenda. Otherwise, they’ll be no different from the candidates of the other side. If the candidates’ selection process is prematurely jumpstarted without a clear and comprehensive electoral agenda/program, we run the risk of being unable to select the best candidates, and that means losing again in 2022.  

We must remember the lessons of the previous presidential elections. The only exhaustive exit polls in 2016 found out that “The higher the class, the more the appeal of Duterte: His lead over Roxas was 26 points in class ABC, compared to 17 points in class D, and only 7 points in class E.” It means that democratic forces will have to sway the middle classes (class C and D) too, rather than focus only on the poorest (class E).

What would ensure that classes C, D, and E would solidly unite and vote for the democratic forces’ candidates? Our candidates would have to be committed, very committed to URGENT ECONOMIC RELIEF FOR THE POOR AND THE MIDDLE CLASS. Usapang bigas/kanin at pera pa rin naman talaga ang eleksyon. People would always ask, bakit namin kayo dapat iboto? With an unbeatable electoral agenda/platform that takes good care of the Filipino people’s economic needs, our candidates will have bigger changes of winning. Without such an agenda/platform, any “winnable” candidate will in the end lose.

In sum, 1Sambayan is a good start, but it needs to broaden its representation and build the electoral agenda immediately. Broadening representation would necessarily entail activation of grassroots circles, groups, branches etc. But then again, without a clear and comprehensive platform/program, it will be difficult if not impossible. We have to have something that we can all swear to uphold, fight for, assert. An electoral manifesto, a program, whatever the label is.

If needed, I’m volunteering to help craft/write a more detailed document on the KABUHAYAN part of the proposed 5Ks, which, in my opinion, will be the major deciding factor of the 2022 elections.

May our collective efforts further draw their strength from the Filipino people’s dreams and aspirations.

References/Supplementary Materials:

IBON Foundation’s computation of a family living wage: https://www.ibon.org/the-family-living-wage-as-of-february-2020/

Current real minimum wage rates in the Philippines (halos wala nang value ang sahod ngayon): https://nwpc.dole.gov.ph/stats/current-real-minimum-wage-rates/

“ENDO” as word of the year (details on why contractualization is bad and must be abolished): https://www.academia.edu/8510399/ENDO_Mga_Salita_ng_Taon_2014_SAWIKAAN_

Singapore’s personal income tax rate: https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/Individuals/Locals/Working-Out-Your-Taxes/Income-Tax-Rates/#:~:text=Singapore’s%20personal%20income%20tax%20rates,income%20tax%20rate%20at%2022%25.

A European study that proves “Reducing VAT rates drives down prices and boosts demand”: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/resources/documents/taxation/vat/how_vat_works/rates/study_reduced_vat.pdf

On home ownership: 35.9% of Filipino families (1 out of 3) don’t own homes: https://psa.gov.ph/content/two-every-three-families-owned-house-and-lot-they-occupied-results-2019-annual-poverty

Number of homeless Filipinos at 4.5 million: https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/journey-homeless

One peace negotiations, it may not look like it, but’s it’s really true, NDF’s CASER is very much like a finetuned version of our 1987 Constitution: https://ndfp.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FINAL-Jan-17-2018-NDFP-CASER-2017-Web-version-Ver2.0.pdf

UNESCO’s “Education 2030 Framework for Action proposed two benchmarks as ‘crucial reference points’: allocate at least 4% to 6% of GDP to education” (we have never reached that in the previous decades): https://gem-report-2016.unesco.org/en/chapter/target-4-8-finance/#:~:text=The%20Education%202030%20Framework%20for,of%20public%20expenditure%20to%20education.

Makabayan Bloc’s Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill/GARB: https://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB00239.pdf

Comparison of CARP and GARB: https://www.bulatlat.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/8-49-ap-garb-vs-carp-ok.pdf

Proposed Urban Land Reform Act: https://dmmsanjuan.com/2020/07/27/proposed-senate-bill-2020-1-urban-land-reform-act-homes-for-every-filipino-act-batas-sa-pabahay-para-sa-lahat/

Sen. Trillanes’ bill scrapping Marcosian automatic debt appropriations (this is also a left-wing advocacy since then and even now): http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/59085266!.pdf

Ed Tadem’s article on debt audit: https://opinion.inquirer.net/101506/historic-audit-illegitimate-debts

Article on what a pro-people charter change could look like: https://dmmsanjuan.com/2021/03/17/pagtupad-sa-pangako-ng-edsa-makabayang-cha-cha-charter-change-makamasang-adyenda/

Mahar Mangahas’ article on 2016 exit polls: https://opinion.inquirer.net/94736/revelations-of-the-tv5-sws-exit-poll

Summary of AmBisyon Natin 2040, a NEDA document which summarizes the Filipino people’s aspirations (from FGDs): http://2040.neda.gov.ph/about-ambisyon-natin-2040/

120,000 pesos as the ideal family monthly income for the Filipino people’s definition of what maginhawang buhay is (as per AmBisyon Natin 2040): https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/06/29/1597748/family-4-needs-p120k-monthly

Photo from https://www.facebook.com/1Sambayan-108652564620342

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