Youth leader advocates vs. ‘trapolitos’

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Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond 'Mong' Palatino. Contributed Photo
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino. Contributed Photo

By The Philippines News Agency

MANILA (7-Mar-2013) – Kabataan party list Rep. Raymond Palatino is advocating more voter education so the electorate can be better informed and empowered to help curb dominance and proliferation of political dynasties nationwide.

He raised urgency for action, noting such dynasties attempt holding on to power by having respective younger generation of scions – ‘trapolitos’ – run for public office either to replace their elder ‘trapo’ or traditional politician-relatives occupying those posts at present or to seek other government positions.

“Political dynasties are good at re-branding,” he warned during State-run PTV 4’s ‘Hatol ng Bayan’ program for the 2013 mid-term polls.

He cautioned against such re-branding, however, believing merely fielding dynasties’ scions to perpetuate clan rule will get the country nowhere.

Voters must scrutinize platforms, qualifications, traits and track records of all election candidates so only the truly deserving can be elected, he said.

Ateneo de Manila University assistant professor Dr. Lisandro Claudio agrees.

“A study shows the country’s poorest districts are usually run by political dynasties,” he said during the program.

He noted such information must be disseminated particularly since many in the youth sector are interested in helping further move the country forward.

“I think it’s becoming clear to the youth that time has come to question our political dynasty system,” he also said.

Republic Act 8044 (Youth in Nation-Building Act of 1994) defines the youth as persons 15 to 30 years old.

“One challenge is for young people to seek public office if they don’t want old names to continue dominating Philippine politics,” Palatino said.

During an earlier edition of the program, University of the Philippines professor Roland Simbulan raised concern about political dynasticism being social reform’s nemesis.

He sees better chance for Congress to approve social reform bills if political dynasties no longer dominate that legislative branch.

Simbulan made the assessment, noting over half of congressional members belong to such dynasties and are unlikely to support bills that’ll negatively affect interests of their respective ruling clans.

“There’s conflict of interest,” he said.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution states that “suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines, not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least 18 years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election.”

Citing January 2010 Commission on Elections data, National Statistical Coordination Board reported a total 50.7 million voters registered for the May 10 national and local polls that year.

Kabataan party list also earlier reported available data show the youth sector accounts for about a third of total Philippine voting population.

“A big segment of Filipino voters belong to the youth sector,” Palatino said.

He noted the numbers indicate not only young people’s voting power but their potential to shape public opinion as well particularly since they have easier access to information due to technological advances.

Claudio observed poll candidates are increasingly suiting up to win youth votes.

He noted such development isn’t surprising as poll candidates realize the youth sector’s impact on election results can no longer be ignored.

“Past elections already show the youth vote is strong,” he said.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago nearly won the 1992 presidential race as youth voters then backed her up, he recalled.

Retired Gen. Fidel Ramos won the presidential race that year.

Claudio acknowledged the youth sector is still not fully involved in electoral affairs, however.

“Many among our youth are turned off by politics – they see no hope but the same issues and faces only so not all of them participate in elections and are active during campaigns,” he said.

To encourage more youth participation, he said the challenge is “to make politics not a dirty word anymore.”

Kabataan party list president Terry Ridon is skeptical Congress will approve bills aimed at ending political dynasticism in the country, however.

He’s convinced getting such bills approved is an uphill battle, noting about 70 percent of congressional members belong to political clans.

“We can’t expect them to pass a law against their own,” he said.

Palatino reiterated his call for more youth participation in Philippine affairs, believing the sector can influence outcome of polls and help chart the country’s future.

“The youth must realize that through their engagement, something good and concrete can happen,” he said.

Claudio also urged young people to unite and collectively express their concern on issues hounding them.

“I think the youth can achieve much if this sector agrees to speak with unity,” he said. (PNA)

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