News: 10M votes for good governance

Philippine Daily Inquirer: A critical mass of 10 million voters is what a new movement aims to mobilize to bring about good governance ahead of and beyond the 2010 elections.

Movement for Good Governance (MGG), a coalition of reform-minded organizations, business leaders and individuals, has three long-term goals—voter registration and empowerment, election reform and leadership development.

But it is focusing on the 2010 elections as a major opportunity to exercise good governance and elect new leaders, the group said in a press briefing on Friday.

The organizations at the core of the coalition are Kaya Natin, Youth Vote, Young Public Servants, Hope, Transparent Election.org, Reform Coalition and RCN Visition 2010.

Some of its key movers are Milwida Guevara, a former finance undersecretary; Guillermo Luz, a former Makati Business Club executive director; information technology expert Gus Lagman; artist and youth leader Jaime Garchitorena; retired Gen. Jose Almonte and comedian “Juana Change.”

According to Guevara, the strength of MGG is how it has put together “a group of ordinary people who want to make a difference, who have hope and who would like to put a claim that this is our country.”

Guevara, president of the Synergeia Foundation which works with local government units in improving basic education, said MGG was not endorsing any particular candidate for president but “it’s possible that via an organic process ahead of the elections, views may converge to endorse a set of leaders.”

With regard to the first of its goals, the MGG will support the registration of young and first-time voters starting this month, mobilize 10 million voters to sign up and support good governance reforms and then organize communication platforms like public debates to help Filipinos understand the issues better and choose candidates wisely.

Effective automation

With respect to election reforms, MGG seeks effective automation to achieve transparent and faster canvassing of voters.

“Let’s use technology not only to prevent cheating but to make the elections more transparent,” said Lagman, of Transparent Election.org, who proposes the uploading of electoral results to the Internet after the manual canvassing of votes in the schools.

Luz said the country must fix the electoral system so that good candidates would be encouraged to run for office.

He said an online system would allow the candidates, voters, watchers the media and even the overseas Filipinos to keep track of poll results.

“Everybody will have power of information at their fingertips and that makes 40 million of us poll watchers, far better than the half a million that Namfrel can put up,” said Luz, formerly executive director of the National Movement for Free Elections.

Lagman, who was also IT chief at Namfrel, has designed a program called “Open Election System” that can speed up the canvassing of votes.

MGG seeks to encourage and empower grassroots and overseas Filipinos to monitor election results in real time and use available technology such as mobile phones and the Internet to protect the sanctity of the votes.

The coalition also seeks to guarantee the ability of overseas Filipinos to participate in and possibly influence the 2010 elections.

Direct mandate

On leadership development, MGG seeks to identify, empower and support “progressive political leaders who are sincere and effective in promoting reforms towards good governance.”

“We want to build awareness, get people to run, get good candidates to run, get people to register and get poll watchers from all walks of life,” Luz said.

Almonte, who was national security adviser to President Fidel Ramos, said that the mandate for Charter change must come directly from the people.

To ensure that any constitutional amendments would not benefit incumbent leaders, Almonte has proposed a referendum to be held simultaneously with the 2010 elections to ask the people if they wanted the Constitution amended.

If incumbent officials or those elected in 2010 would not benefit from the changes, Filipinos would likely vote “yes” in such a referendum, he said.

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