As the New Year begins and our country enters another election year, many Filipinos continue to long for the kind of “tsinelas” leadership that the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo practiced in his more than 20 years in government service. Hopefully, we will demand this same kind of leadership when we discern who to support and vote for in the coming 2013 elections.
In order for this to happen, all of us must do our own small share towards promoting good governance and leadership with integrity in our country.
Here are some simple and practical ways that ordinary Filipinos can do to help continue the legacy of Jesse Robredo.
1. Vote and participate in our elections
Billions of pesos are lost every year due to graft and corruption in our government. These funds can easily provide adequate housing to the homeless, social health insurance to the poor and college scholarships to our youth. It is therefore important that we choose the right leaders for our country, and this begins by performing our duty as responsible Filipino citizens to vote, support and campaign for effective, ethical and empowering leaders every elections.
2. Know the duties and responsibilities of our government officials
Do you know the duties and responsibilities of your Councilor or Vice-Mayor? Chances are like many Filipinos, you don’t. How can we demand better service or accountability from our government officials if we don’t even know what we need to expect from them? Thus, as good citizens, we need to understand and educate ourselves about the roles and responsibilities of our government officials and their respective offices.
Recently, the Ateneo School of Government, Kaya Natin! Movement and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) launched Gov 101: A New Voter’s Guide to the Philippine Government, a booklet that describes what services we can expect from our government officials.
To know more about Gov 101, you can contact (02) 990-3282 or send an email to [email protected] .
3. Give your time to volunteer for clean and honest elections
Unfortunately, our country has been known as having elections which are often marred by rampant cheating, vote-buying and electoral fraud. Sadly, this has discouraged many good and well-meaning Filipinos from running for public office.
Due to limited resources, our Commission on Elections (COMELEC) cannot ensure that it will be able to police all corners of our country thus, we need to support and volunteer for organizations such as the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) that help ensure clean and honest elections in our country. Hopefully, this will help more leaders like the late Jesse Robredo to be elected in our country.
4. Keep yourself informed and take a stand on issues concerning our country
In this age where information has become very accessible due to the internet and mobile technology, there is no excuse for us not to know what is happening in our country. Make time to read the newspaper and listen to the news regularly to understand the different socio-economic and political issues that are currently being discussed or debated upon. Aside from this, make your own stand known about these issues by using the power of social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
In a strong democratic society, it is the true will of the people that should be followed and if we don't do our own share to express our views, insights and opinions then we will always be dictated upon by the selfish interests of a few.
5. Volunteer and participate in organizations that promote nation-building
As you have seen in the life of Jesse Robredo, he was not only involved in the promotion of good governance but also in other advocacies close to his heart such as public education reform and uplifting the quality of life of persons with disabilities. You can also help continue his legacy by also making time to share your resources and volunteer as well for organizations or institutions such as Kaya Natin!, Synergeia Foundation and Physicians for Peace that aim to do their own small share in nation-building.
If every Filipino will make time to volunteer in a particular advocacy that they feel strongly about then our country would be able to solve so many of its social problems. We have to realize that government alone will not be able to solve all our problems, we need to also do our own share as citizens to move our country towards the kind of future that we want to attain.
Hopefully, the leadership and sacrifices made by the late Jesse Robredo will not just be a feel good story for every Filipino but it will hopefully inspire each one of us to do our own small share towards working together for a better future for every Filipino.
Comments are welcome at [email protected]
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Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and is also the Lead Convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.