Voter’s choice: Not corrupt bets

The top quality that Filipino voters look for in a senatorial candidate is “not corrupt”, according to a Social Weather Stations survey commissioned by the private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute.

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Stratbase ADR Institute, through its project Democracy Watch, commissioned the survey on the “Qualities that One is Looking for in a Senatorial Candidate of the Philippines”. 

The survey was conducted on Dec. 16 to 19, 2018, using face-to-face interviews of 1,440 adults nationwide, of which 1,363 were registered voters.

The survey showed that 25 percent of the respondents listed “will not be corrupt” as among the qualities they were looking for in a senatorial candidate. 

By area, 25 percent of the respondents in the National Capital Region, 26 percent in the rest of Luzon, 27 percent in the Visayas and 22 percent in Mindanao said they were looking for candidates “who will not be corrupt”.

The candidates who have “concern for the poor” emerged as the second top quality (22 percent) that respondents were looking for in the senatorial candidates. The third top quality was “good personal characteristics” that was listed by 21 percent of the candidates, while the fourth top quality was “trustworthy”.

“We deserve leaders who are not corrupt, have good character and are trustworthy,” said Dindo Manhit, Lead Convenor of Democracy Watch and president of Stratbase ADR Institute.

The other qualities cited by respondents were “has concern/helpful to those in need” with 20 percent; “walks his talk/fulfills promises” with 14 percent; “can give solutions to the problems of the country” with 9 percent; “approachable” with 7 percent; “has good leadership qualities” with 6 percent; “knows how to listen and confer with other people” with 5 percent; “has faith in God” with 5 percent; “has political will” with 3 percent; and “educated/intelligent/bright” with 3 percent.

“Filipinos always call for reducing poverty, create more jobs and fight graft and corruption in the government. None of these concerns come as a surprise since they affect the daily life of every Filipino,” Manhit said.

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“As these concerns have been consistently identified. It is time to ask the aspiring candidates what they aim to do to address such national issues.”

Among the eligibility requirements for candidacy in the House of Representatives and the Senate under the 1987 constitution are that the candidate must be a natural born citizen of the Philippines, at least 25 years of age, literate and a registered voter.

Manhit said Filipino voters should carefully elect members of Congress whose legislative power went beyond the creation of laws. 

“The Congress has power over the president in times of national emergency and a state of war; impeach and hold constitutionally mandated public officials accountable; propose charter change; and even, conduct necessary hearings in the process of creating laws. As open the eligibility is, voters must understand the demands of this responsibility, of being a public servant,” he said.

“Analyzing a candidate's credibility, competence and integrity is a responsibility therefore of a voter. These can be measured by looking into their education, experience, records and advocacies/platforms.”

Stratbase ADR Institute said that, since the passage of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Malversation on July 12, 1991, the plunder law had only convicted one public official. Others who were accused, some of whom were from the Senate, were pardoned, acquitted or on trial but still running for elections.

“This raises the question, are the anti-corruption laws in the Philippines strong enough to keep public officials in check of their duty? If not, then shouldn't we elect officials who show integrity and commitment to even start discussion or discourse on the amendment of these laws? Laws should be initiated and amended to promote transparency so that the people are included in the discourse and may participate further,” Manhit said.

Claudette Guevara, secretary general of Democracy Watch, said another important issue in the election was the continued toleration of political dynasties in the Philippines

Guevara said while the anti-political dynasty law was stated in the 1987 constitution, it had only been “explicitly” implemented or made into law under the Sangguniang Reform Act of 2016 and the Local Government Code.

The Anti-Political Dynasty bill (and all its different version) had been passed from Congress to Congress since 1987 and still remained pending, she said.

In a study conducted from 2007 to 2016, political dynasties comprised about 75 percent of the government. More accurate data showed a rise from 75 percent to 78 percent among district representatives; from 70 percent to 81 percent among governors; and from 58 percent to 70 percent among mayors.

“From the reports of the Office of the Ombudsman, corruption is rampant among LGUs and Congress. While they enrich themselves further by abusing the power vested in them, poverty increases, the quality of social services decreases and the people suffer,” Guevarra said.

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Topics: Social Weather Stations , Stratbase ADR Institute , Democracy Watch , Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
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