Monday, October 8, 2012

Social protection network pushes for agenda-based ‘13 polls

08 October 2012

After an annoying week of ‘circus’ at the Commission on Elections, a network of grassroots organizations campaigning for social protection is pressing for a more empowering, agenda-based conduct of the 2013 national and local elections. In a “Caravan of Electoral Agenda” organised this morning by the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP), a priority list of social policy agenda was presented in public as the campaign network plans to make active intervention in next year’s polls.

The list includes the agenda on:
Decent work and guaranteed employment
Universal Health Care
Humane housing and the right to the city, and
De-privatization of essential services

“Political campaigns in the past insult the intelligence of people, candidates entertain us with song and dance numbers and empty promises. Unholy alliances among parties show that winning is more important than presenting clear and coherent programs,” declared KAMP lead convenor, Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, adding that “It’s time to make our elections agenda-based.”

The KAMP caravan with some 300 representatives coming from communities of the network made its first stop at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) where workers demanded full compliance to government’s obligation to promote the workers’ rights and provide full employment to all Filipino workers.

“Yesterday was the World Day for Decent Work.  The celebration was obviously empty here in the Philippines where contractual/outsourced jobs dominate the industries while more and more members of the labor force are trapped in chronic unemployment and underemployment problems,” said Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chair, Renato Magtubo.  He likewise called on the government to formulate a public employment program that can offer guaranteed public jobs for the millions of unemployed.

From the labor department, KAMP members proceeded to the Comelec where they handed a letter to Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, requesting the poll body to organize a series of national debate among the candidates on the said policy agenda. Nemenzo said the Comelec is in the best position to organize this national debate, “so that candidates can also be given a fair chance to explain their position on those particular issues.”  She added that better still if the poll body can organize the same at the local level to bring it closer to the people.

Magtubo on his part explained that, “A national debate is thought-provoking and participatory, and therefore will be more empowering compared to sugar-coated political ads created by spin masters.”

From the poll body, the caravan headed toward the Department of Health office in Manila where KAMP members called for more radical reforms in the country’s health care system which they said, needs to institutionalize the principle and programs of primary health care to attend to people’s health needs at the onset, before they even reach the hospital. Nemenzo pointed out that in Cuba “hospitals are considered just a step away from the cemetery.”

The group said the KP program remains limited as the system merely converges with the government’s targeted conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, and therefore is not universal.  “KAMP is pushing for a system where quality health care is accessible and available to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” explained Nemenzo, who is also the leader of WomanHealth Philippines.

The caravan’s last leg was at the National Housing Authority (NHA) where the demand for on-site/in-city housing program is being pushed by urban poor groups.

Bubuy Magahis, coordinator of Kilos Maralita said, “The present off-site relocation program denies the poor the right to the city.  Cities are not only for the 1% and the middle class.  The poor have the right to be with them and the State has the obligation to ensure that city spaces, including parks, are mutually shared by all its citizens whose majority in fact happens to be the poor.”

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