Akbayan takes poll campaign to Fil-Ams

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Rep. Bello asking support from Fil-Ams in San Francisco

LOS ANGELES—Akbayan’s Rep. Walden Bello began a campaign tour of Filipino American communities to raise support for his party and President Benigno Aquino III’s common reform agenda in the coming May elections.

Starting in this city on Valentine’s Day and proceeding to San Francisco the following evening, Bello brought political optimism to audiences consisting of former anti-martial law activists, community organizers, trade unionists, good governance advocates and longtime friends. He will also visit Washington, DC, Portland and Seattle.

His message to Filipino Americans–social reform and the fight against corruption can succeed in the current political system. Moreover, Bello said, progressive candidates must win in the coming May elections so that reforms gained through Akbayan’s alliance with the current administration can be preserved and built on.

In addition to Akbayan’s party-list campaign for Congress, the party’s Risa Hontiveros is running on the Liberal Party senatorial slate backed by President Aquino. In a narrow miss, she came in 13th in her last senatorial bid.

Audiences who gathered at a downtown residence in Los Angeles and at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 Hall in San Francisco responded enthusiastically to Bello’s appeal for support. He raised more than $8,000 for Akbayan’s campaign war chest in just the two appearances.

Biggest victory

Bello confessed that it was easier being in the opposition during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration than being in Congress and in the administration, working in coalitions in pursuit of good governance. “But it has been worth it,” he said.

The biggest battle his alliance won, he explained, was the Reproductive Health Act, which “finally legalizes family planning” in the Philippines. Bello reminded his audiences that family planning was “key to the economic growth of neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.”

“The battle of the century,” he said, “strengthened the separation of church and state. It is a step towards greater secularization of Philippine politics and it has created a sense of hopefulness in the public that change is possible despite opposition from powerful forces like the Catholic Church.”

Important signals

In fighting corruption, Bello explained that it was important for Macapagal-Arroyo and her cronies to be brought to justice. The prosecution of the former president and the removal of her protective ombudsman and chief justice were important signals to the public, he said. “You have to start from the top in fighting corruption, otherwise efforts to go after middle or lower level wrongdoers won’t have credibility.”

Bello reported that his party merely shrugged off criticisms by detractors in the Philippine media who called Akbayan the president’s “attack dog” for its relentless pursuit of Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies.

On the anti-poverty front, Bello cited the administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program.  Regular cash payments are given to parents on the condition that they keep their children in school—instead of making them work for a living to support the family–and bringing them regularly to public health clinic checkups.

The program “creates social conditions that will help break the cycle of poverty,” Bello said. “There are now close to 3.2 million families in the program on its third year.” Conditional cash transfers have proved effective in Brazil and Mexico and the program is supported by the World Bank.

Substantial differences

Bello, however, noted that there are substantial differences between Akbayan and the Aquino administration. Comprehensive agrarian reform, he said, is “too slow.” While Akbayan is pushing for a comprehensive economic strategy, the administration needs one instead of short-term policies.

Moreover, while Akbayan supports the president’s stance against China’s claims on Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea, it disagrees with tying the Philippines’ claim to the US-China “superpower dynamics.”

Despite these differences, however, Bello says his party is committed to finding common ground with Pres. Aquino because of the latter’s dedication to clean governance. “This president has not been tainted with any hint of corruption, not a single one,” Bello pointed out.

A positive outcome of the relationship has been Aquino’s tapping of Akbayan’s Risa Hontiveros for the Liberal Party senatorial team in the upcoming May 2013 elections.

Bello stated Akbayan has learned much during its initial years in Congress. “We are not purists. We’re able to deal with reality as long as we keep our principles. Coalitions are necessary to get things done in our work as progressives.”

Bello encouraged dual citizens to vote and to ask relatives and friends in the Philippines to vote for Akbayan in Congress and Risa Hontiveros and other progressives for the Senate.

He lauded Filipino Americans who lobbied Philippine Congress to facilitate overseas voting and continuing to demand procedural refinements. Bello also asked his audiences to continue pressing for social reforms and good governance and defending the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.

“There is really no border between you and us,” he said. With additional reporting by Rene Ciria-Cruz.

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  • Lala_Campos

    Good, old Prof. Bello.  I remember him as an articulate and engaging teacher. I voted for Akbayan for the longest time, but this May it wil be a toss up between Akbayan and Ang Ladlad. I still hope that Akbayan gets the maximum number of seats allowed. Goodluck, Sir Walden

  • $23601969

    Kapal ng mukha netong AKBAYAN

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/44RALU2ARTIM3I6BQV75HRDSLU greg

    kapal muka mimyo isa din kayong nag susunog ng babdila n g US tapos pupunta kayo dayan para mangampanya kapal mukha ninyo tala dapat iyong pinamasahe ninyo dyan donation ninyo sa ngangailangan . kapal talaga ninyo 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GEFKD23VGMA54XA4WH4R4AWQUM alfred

      Parang mali yata ang lugar na napuntahan ng  akbayan …dapat sa CHINA ang campaign ninyo…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YMRXSOYS6ZCDDW43HZ4Z2XKVMQ BrAX82

    AKBAYADDDDDDD!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reynaldo-Quijada/100000740291153 Reynaldo Quijada

    Because many of them are ok with RH, divorce, abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage? Anti Filipino talaga itong mga Akbayan. Dapat hwag iboto becaus they do not mind destroying our moral fiber as God fearing Filipinos.

  • kinutil

    Yan ang mga taong WALANG MUKHA hindi maronong mahiya pagkatapos nilang laitin ang AMERICA na siyang naging takbuhan ng million milliong PILIPINO upang mabuhay ng marangal at maiahon sa kahirapan ang bawat pamilya at pati na ang mga kamag-anak na nasa pilipinas,AT ngayon dahil ELECTION para silang maamong tupa ngunit ang kanilang BUDHI ay isang ULOPONG na handang tumuklaw ano mang oras. HUWAG IBOTO ang mga SALOT, itaboy papuntang CHINA na sya nilang kalahi.

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