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In hopes of pursuing an issue-based election for the 2010 elections instead of a personality-based campaign, civil society groups headed by the Ateneo School of Government, the Transparency and Accountability Network, Haribon Foundation Inc., the Local Government Development Foundation, presented the Citizen’s Reform Agenda for 2010 last Sept. 2 in Mandaluyong City.
The Citizen Reform Agenda 2010 has been continuously supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in its efforts to promote issue-based politics, especially to the members of media. According to Klaus Preschle, country representative of the KAS, past projects investigating election campaign trends in 2004 and 2007 (“Spin and Sell”, “Selling Candidates” publications in cooperation with Newsbreak, Ateneo School of Government, and PulseAsia) show that while popularity was still vital in getting elected into office, studies in 2007 show that voters now are looking for political messages and political issues. However, past studies have also shown that little attention has been paid by the media in emphasizing issues and platforms on the front page, and still focus on personalities. He further stressed that media plays a crucial role in elections as it serves to mediate between the government, those aspiring to be in government and the people.
The reform agenda 2010 is also the product of more than a year of sectoral consultations and discussions with more than 100 civil society groups on a variety of issues: (1) corruption; (2) political and electoral reform; (3) environment and sustainable development; (4) local government reforms; and (5) human development. The reform agenda aims to prsent a series of key issues that the involved groups hope politicians running in 2010 will address—however, it remains to be seen whether or not the agenda as it is will inspire media to evaluate the programs of candidates and political camps.
However, some participants in the group raised concerns as to whether or not the media should play roles in advocating issues, as opposed to media remaining objective and nonpartisan in its reporting strategies.
Social Weather Station president Mahar Mangahas also presented expectations of the Filipino people for the 2010 elections, stressing that ‘change’, especially from the Arroyo government, will be the driving issue for most voters—a change in leadership and a change in the style of leadership. Political lobbying and campaigning firm PUBLiCUS general manager Malou Tiquia also added that campaigns in 2010 will most likely move towards making use of alternative, technology-based mediums, such as the internet: blogs, social networking sites, twitter accounts, as part of their campaign strategies.
The presentation ended with an open forum involving several media players active in political reporting, namely John Nery from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ms. Glenda Gloria, chief operating officer of the ABS-CBN News Channel. (ANC), Howie Severino, editor-in-chief of GMAnews.tv, Ms. Ellen Tordesillas from the Vera Files, and hosted by Pia Hontiveros of ANC and Pia Arcangel of GMA News.