About a hundred priests from Bulacan attended the townhall meeting that was organized by Msgr. Bert Suatengco at the Diocesan Formation Center in Guiguinto Bulacan on April 18, 2016. Almost 40 percent of the priest-participants expressed the need for discernment and did not participate in the voting exercise. They said that they are still in the process of reflection with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The discussion of the lost opportunities of the Philippines due to corruption by Prof. Monsod served as a prelude to the townhall. She highlighted why political dynasties have to be stopped.
The priests then stood up to discuss their choices for the Presidency. One participant said he found it difficult to choose Roxas because of the appointment of Sec. Abaya at DOTC and because of the very bad service that the MRT provides. Another stood up and said it was unfair for Roxas to be blamed for all the problems of government. He clarified that appointments are made by the President and not by Roxas. Another priest vouched for Roxas because of his integrity. A young priest said he chose Santiago because of her intelligence. Another said he will vote for Poe but did not explain the reason why. The priest who chose Binay said that he has done some good although he is alleged to be corrupt.
The performance of former Governor de la Cuz and Alvarado was ably compared by a priest who used to work with the provincial hospital. He deplored the practice of perpetual patronage under Gov. Alvarado with Internal Revenue Allotments being withheld for barangay leaders who are not allies of the Governor. He expressed hope that under the leadership of Gov. De La Cruz, the needed health service delivery especially to the poor would be revived. The COA reports on the disallowances and suspension of millions of expenditures of Gov. Alvarado were reviewed during the meeting.
The challenge of enabling voters to base their choices based on the integrity and performance of the candidates was raised by another priest. He said that voters are influenced by personalities and popularity of the candidates. However, he encouraged his colleagues to keep on trying to help voters to choose the candidates who are sincere and who will serve the country well.
Atty. Christian Monsod capped the townhall meeting by emphasizing the need for leaders who will heed the call to help the poor particularly the farmers. He informed the participants of the loopholes in the law that politicians and businesses take advantage of to be exempt from the Agrarian Reform Program and the provision of credit to farmers.
Roxas was the choice of 63% of the voters during the post -voting. During the first voting, he only got 33 percent of the votes.
Robredo was the predominant choice getting 72% of the first voting and 85% during the second vote.
Access to information made 100% of the priests who voted to choose Former Governor de la Cruz over Gov. Alvarado.
Results of the townhall meeting (60 participants):
|de la Cruz||84%||100%|
It was a very spirited townhall meeting. The sharing was made by the 172 participants from Guimbal, San Enrique, and Cabatuan . The members of the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) only discussed the criteria of Effective Leadership, Ethical Character, and Empowering Characteristics.
One voter said his business would flourish under a Duterte presidency. Everybody laughed when he mentioned that he has funeral parlor. Another voter stood up and said that they should all support Roxas, an Ilonggo like himself. He added that he has the highest respect for his integrity and described those who maligned him as saboteurs. A supporter for Binay said that he likes the free cakes, free movies, and free accommodations that he provides. A Poe supporter said that under P’noy, we have the 4P’s; under BInay, the 5P’s, and under Poe, we will have the 2P’s.
From the very first time, it was evident that Roxas is the candidate of the Ilonggos. He got 73 % of their votes. After the meeting, 87 percent voted for him.
Robredo despite being a non-Ilonggo is a “palangga. She got 84% of the votes even before the townhall meeting. She got 94% of the votes after the discussion.
The hardcore of Duterte remained at 6%, Poe at 4% and Binay and Santiago both at 1%.
It was almost like the Vice Presidential debates. There was cheering and booing. The 228 participants to the townhall meeting that was held in Bahay ng Mabuting Pastol in Tagaytay City on April 9 were young mothers, students, religious leaders, and senior citizens. It was sponsored by PPCRV volunteers.
Prof. Monsod discussed the findings of her study where corruption and dynasties were the major culprits why the Philippines ended up in the bottom of Asian countries. After her discussion, a voter stood to say that he supports Binay. He does not believe that he is corrupt and says that all the allegations against him are part of political persecution. A mother stood up and said her vote also goes to Binay because he will make the 4 Ps into 5 P’s. An elderly person who used to live in Makati gave an opposing vote and shared stories about the Binary wealth.
A student stood up to declare his support for Poe because she represents change. A village leader stressed the need for strong leadership so that laws can be enforced well and citizens need to be disciplined. A Roxas admirer explained that her vote goes for him because of his integrity and experience in public service. The failure of government to respond effectively to the needs of the Tacloban resident was raised again and blamed on Roxas.
Atty. Monsod was asked to explain the citizenship issue against Poe and he explained the provisions of the Constitution. Atty. Monsod expressed hope that all the Presidential candidates would explain their platform on social reforms. He said that the promise of government to alleviate the plight of the poor has not been fulfilled despite the passage of 30 years.
|Roxas||29 %||44 %|
Robredo was a favorite among the participants. Almost one-half of them chose her even before the discussions. After the meeting, she was preferred by 6 out of 10 voters.
Roxas got most of the votes among the Presidentiables, 29% during the pre-voting and 44% after. It was clear however that those who chose Poe were loyal. The percentage of voters who chose her remained 23% during the pre-vote and 22% during the post-vote. Those who preferred Binay represented 14% of the voters, down from 18%. And for Duterte, the preference slightly moved downward from 21% to 17%.
Studies show that Filipino voters choose their candidates based on popularity and public image. But the conduct of townhall meetings shows that with access to information and open discussions, voters change their preferences and choose their candidates based on performance.
The Movement for Good Governance (MGG) with its Chairman Prof. Solita Monsod has been using a scorecard since 2009. The qualifications of candidates are assessed based on three criteria: efficiency, empowering characteristics, and ethical character. A five-point system is used:
1 = Mahina (Weak)
2 = Kulang (Inadequate)
3 = Pasang-awa (Mediocre)
4 = Magaling (Good)
5 = Ang Galing-galing
Assessment is based on facts based on written records of the candidate. Then, voters are asked to explain their choices, share stories, ask questions, and engage in friendly debates among themselves.
In a townhall meeting with the household staff in Forbes Park, a Binay supporter said her children enjoyed scholarships. A Duterte advocate in BF subdivision shared how his candidate helps the Lumads. Another supporter in PANA mentioned the need to impose discipline Duterte style. An admirer of Santiago in the same townhall admired the bright mind of the Senator. A religious shared how Senator Poe supported their anti- poverty programs.
The voters share their reservations on the candidates as well. A mother said that having a bully like Duterte as President will not serve as a good model for children. A participant from Tagaytay was apprehensive about the Poe-Cojuangco connection and how it seems that her decisions are based on convenience. The common issues raised against Binay are the allegations of corruption . For Roxas, it is how government handled the rehabilitation of Tacloban. The health of Santiago and Duterte are part of the discussions. A senior citizen said he was dismayed when Roxas gave up his candidacy for the Presidency in 2009.
Voters ask to be clarified on the constitutional provisions on candidates’ qualifications. They are ably explained by Atty. Christian Monsod, former COMELEC Chairman and Delegate to the 1986 Constitutional Convention. He shares his insights on major issues such as the rule of law and stresses the need to discuss platforms of candidates on social justice and the concerns of the poor.
Voting is held prior and after a townhall meeting. In all the townhall meetings, voters changed their preferences. The only constant was the preference for Leni Robredo as Vice President even during the first vote. Voters expressed a preference for Roxas in 4 townhall meetings with a slight margin over Poe. In the Malolos townhall, Poe was the preference of the young volunteers during the pre-voting. In the PANA meeting and that which was held with the clients of a commercial bank, the preferred choice was Duterte. After the townhall, Roxas consistently became the top choice with a significant lead over the others.
In the case of local candidates, Pena was the choice for the mayoralty post in Makati and his lead widened after the townhall meeting. Voters chose J dela Cruz for Governor of Bulacan and garnered 73% of the votes.
One voter summed up why he changed his choices in a townhall at PANA. He said, “I cannot unhear what I heard.”
Results of the Townhall Meetings
February 16, 2016, Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol, Tagaytay City
NGO and Religious Leaders (55 participants)
March 12, 2016, Malolos City
PPCRV Volunteers (233 participants)
|De la Cruz||57%||73%|
March 14, 2016, Makati City
Household Staff (165 participants)
March 15, 2016
Clients of a Commercial Bank (63 participants)
March 18, 2016, Dagupan City
NGO and Religious Leaders
March 28, 2016, BF Homes, Paranaque
Residents (210 participants)
April 6, 2016
Members of Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA)(103 participants)
The Movement for Good Governance (MGG) led by its Chair Prof. Winnie Monsod organized several townhall meetings in Tagaytay, Bulacan, Dagupan City, Obando, Bulacan, a commercial bank, and the exclusive villages in Makati. The Tagaytay meeting was participated in by priests who are alumni of “Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol.” PPCRV volunteers took part in the Bulacan meeting while the Dagupan meeting was organized by Bishop Soc. Villegas. Drivers and members of the household staff from exclusive villages in Makati participated in the townhall meeting.
The participants described the townhall meeting as the first of its kind. The meeting started with pre-voting. Participants cast their votes on the candidates for President, Vice President, and, Mayor. They were given chips which they placed inside a container that bore the name of the candidates. Thereafter, they discussed the characteristics of the candidates that demonstrate their “Effectiveness as a Leader”, “Empowering Leadership”, and “Ethical Character”. The participants freely exchanged their ideas and experiences using the scorecard that MGG prepared.
The townhall meeting ended with another round of voting. A visible change was noticeable which show that information can be transformative and empowering. Choices of voters change when they are given the chance to be informed and to participate in debates.
The results of the pre-and post voting are as follows:
Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol, Tagaytay City, February 16, 2016
No post-voting was made for the candidates for the vice-president because of the lack of time.