The Commitment Covenant: A concept paper for a new Philippine Congress
This is a simple plan to for a new Philippine congress.
“THE COMMITMENT COVENANT”
A CONCEPT PAPER FOR A NEW PHILIPPINE CONGRESS
By: ATTY. EDUARDO V. BRINGAS
Chairman, 1-Vote Our Hope Movement
(COMELEC Accredited Citizen’s Arm for the May 13, 2013 Elections)
There are certain traits that are common to Filipinos like having extended families; keeping the honor of the family name; and believing in GOD. These traits normally serve as deterrent for a family member to go astray. Moreover, in the hierarchy of Filipino family values, social stature and the neighbor’s impression rank among the highest. These are the primary reasons why the acquisition and maintenance of material wealth and power remains the priority of the Filipino family. By GOD’s grace, these traits and values may serve as catalysts for Philippine politics to change for the better through “Commitment Covenant.” Let us begin with the Philippine Congress.
The “Commitment Covenant” is a voters’ empowerment tool designed to bind the candidates on issues or matters they want to be resolved or addressed by the former if elected to public office. The scheme requires the cooperation of candidates, accredited citizens’ arm, the media, the religious sector and Comelec.
In general, the “Commitment” for candidates is to fulfill what the voters demand if elected and for the latter to include the committed candidate/s name/s in their short list. Upon the other hand, the “Covenant” refers to the binding agreement between the candidate/s, the voters through their representative i.e., Citizen’s Arm, the Media, COMELEC and GOD as represented by the pertinent religious group where the candidate is affiliated.
While the term “Covenant” may already include “Commitment” (e.g., obligations with suspensive condition), it is necessary to make such emphasis to immediately distinguish it from the promises and agreements being made by politicians. Thus, the term commitment should always involve the process of voters making the demand to the candidates; the candidates making the commitment to fulfill the demand within a specified period, if elected to office; and the commitment on the part of the voters to write in their short list only those who signed the commitment covenant will be placed in their short list.
The role of media is indispensable for the success of this endeavor. Before the event, media shall amplify the voters’ education activities of various NGOs and citizens’ arm of Comelec by educating the people themselves about the scheme to help the latter make their choice. Thus, for purposes of the district representative, party list and senatorial candidates, the people may narrow down their choices by having their own short lists. Remember that the commitment covenant is a demand of the people on the candidates to fulfill a certain task. It is a reciprocal obligation where the voters, in exchange for the candidates’ commitment to fulfill what they demand, shall include their names in their short list, thereby increasing their chances of winning and getting a seat. However, the final decision on who to vote shall remain with the individual voters.
The voters’ short list shall contain the names of candidates who commit to do the people’s will. The result of the commitment covenant signing shall be published with the help of media partners. The people shall find out who among those invited signed the commitment covenant. Those who did not sign the commitment covenant (i.e., those who were invited but did not attend and those who attended but did not sign) have their own personal agenda as priority over and above the people’s will and should therefore be disregarded in their list. Nevertheless, those who did not sign may still redeem themselves by signing the commitment covenant within 1 week from the first posting of the lists.
The signatories to the Commitment Covenant are: 1. The Candidate; 2. The Citizen’s Arm authorized signatory representing the people; 3. Comelec representative; 4. Media representative; and 5. The authorized signatory of a particular religious group chosen by the candidate, representing GOD. In case the candidate is an agnostic, the same shall be indicated and his belief is respected.
Nevertheless, the same candidate is likewise expected to respect the people’s belief (i.e., as stated in the Preamble of our Constitution, we, the Filipino people, implore the aid of the Almighty GOD) through the Citizen’s Arm and the latter shall then draw lots as to the particular religious group whose representative shall sign the document in accordance with their faith.
The people – to pray for the Nation and the individual candidates who made the commitment; to all voter to have their individual ticklers where they will indicate, based on evaluation, a. The list of all candidates for Congress within a particular district, b. From the list indicate who signed and who did not sign the Commitment Covenant; and to publish the results
The Comelec – Shall make sure that all election laws and the Constitution have been followed in the course of implementing the procedure herein. If necessary, provide guidelines for the exercise of the people of its power as voters
Media – a commitment to cover the activities prior to, during and after the elections, free of charge. The social media to spread truthfully updates on issues directly or indirectly involving or affecting the Commitment Covenant.
Church – To pray for the candidate, unless the latter refuses. To declare, in accordance with the will of GOD, the blessings and curses attributed to the candidates actions.
The Candidate – To make a commitment and when elected, to fulfill what has been committed. To sign the Commitment Covenant and be subject to its terms and conditions.
The commitment covenant shall, among others, contain the following:
A brief statement regarding the fact that all the signatories, especially the candidate have the same vision of a New Philippine Congress – that will strive to achieve the following: a. Transparent in all its activities and dealings; b. Pork barrel free; c. independently minded members without regard to party affiliation and guided only by good conscience; d. Bias in favor of justice, equality and the common good; and e. The true servants of the people.
An undertaking on the part of the candidate that if elected he or she shall strive to live a life in conformity with the standards of a true statesman and shall fulfill the demand of the people within the specified period, and should it not be provided, within such reasonable period, taking into consideration the matter or issue that needs to be resolved.
The undertaking shall contain a provision that in case he reneged or failed to do the people’s demand within the period given without any valid reason, he shall be reminded of his commitment and is given another 3 months to fulfill the task. If full compliance is not made on due date, his or her name will be place on the Shame List and shall remain therein until it is fulfilled or until his or her term ends. In this regard, he or she and his immediate family shall voluntarily give up the position and not run in the next elections.
Upon the other hand, should the candidates performed the task within the period specified, his or her name shall be placed on the List of Honorable Statesmen. These lists shall be posted on websites and other prominent areas subject to Comelec guidelines. Finally, the candidate shall declare that he or she is waiving his or her right to retaliate or respond by filling any civil, criminal and/or administrative case against those directly involved in the advocacy, unless it is clearly shown that what has been reported is false and only intended to besmirch the name of the candidate.
The procedures are as follows: 1. The citizens’ arm shall invite every candidate to attend a symposium.; 2. The symposium on right governance shall be attended by main 5 signatories and their constituents if any; 3. On the day of the symposium, the usual program shall be followed, and thereafter, the explanation regarding the activity and challenge to the candidates to sign the Commitment Covenant; 4. After signing, the people through media shall come up with the list of those who signed and made a commitment and those who did not. 5. From the list, the people shall jot down candidates who made the commitment; 6. The winning candidate shall – at the start of his or her term be reminded of his commitment; 7. Citizen’s arm shall monitor compliance with commitment/undertaking; 8. Citizens’ arm will put the name either in the Shame List or List of the Honorable Statesmen; 9. The winning candidate can still have time to rectify his mistake by fulfilling his commitment within the remaining period of his term. Thereafter, and consistent with his other undertaking, he and his immediate family shall not run for the next preceding elections and in return, his name shall be removed from the Shame List.
As stated, the Filipinos in general believe in GOD, a living GOD who showers HIS blessings on those who obey HIM and hurls down curses on those who disobey. This alone is a strong deterrence for the candidate not to follow his or her promise? Nevertheless, a candidate who eventually wins a seat in Congress would have to protect the name of their family. His failure to comply with his commitment would cause him and his immediate family disgrace. His name cannot be removed in the Shame List unless he is able to fulfill his commitment within the remaining period of his term or he and his family gives up the elective position by not running in the next elections.
While it may be true that some politicians may be branded as having calloused hearts because money and power have blinded them, I believe that this is only because they know that the issues can be watered down or even used to their advantage by hiring PR firms and lawyers who twist the truth and foil the ends of justice. This cannot be done anymore with the above scheme precisely because the truth is already laid down in writing even before the candidate wins and takes his or her seat in Congress. With the cooperation of Media, the people through the Citizen’s arm, the religious sector and Comelec, the evil that has been deeply embedded in our system may be eradicated.
All things told, however, no matter what plan or scheme we can think and implement, even to the letter, its success will always be dependent on GOD. Psalm 127 states: Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Towards this end, I hereby commit myself before my GOD and the Filipino people that in the event I am elected as a member of Philippine Congress, I shall:
(1) Make every effort to live a life of a true statesman;
(2) Do my best to fulfill any of the people’s demand I have chosen below during my term, within a reasonable period, to wit:
a. Enactment of a law that will ensure a consistent improvement in the standard of living of the people, especially those living below poverty line and infrastructure;
e. Enactment of a law delimiting pork barrel;
f. Enactment of a law that will strengthen and improve free quality education from grade 1 up to college level; and/or
g. Others Please Specify ______________________________
- In the event that I renege or fail to do the people’s demand I chose to fulfill within a reasonable period during my term without any valid or justifiable reason/s, I shall be reminded of my commitment and I will be given another 3 months to fulfill the task. As used herein, reasonable period in general shall be within twenty one (21) months from the time I took my oath or affirmation as an elected member of Congress.
- I acknowledge and hereby agree that after the 3 month grace period, my unjustified failure to fulfill my undertaking shall have the following effect: (a) I shall suffer the wrath of my GOD; and (b) My name shall be placed on the “Shame List” and shall remain therein until I fulfill my commitment. At the end of my term, if I still have not fulfilled my undertaking without valid or justifiable reason/s (e.g., like when the commitment has become impossible to fulfill despite earnest efforts either because of force majeure or the majority is against it or such other similar circumstances), my name may only be removed from the “Shame List” if I and my immediate family (i.e., first civil degree) shall voluntarily give up the position I held and not run in the next election.
- Upon the other hand, should I perform the task within the period specified, I will reap the blessings of my endeavor and have my name placed on the List of Honorable Statesmen, unless I opt to exclude my name therein.
- By signing this “Commitment Covenant”, I am waiving my right to take action (i.e., whether by filing a civil, criminal and/or administrative case or any other means) against those directly involved in the advocacy, unless it is clearly shown that what has been reported is false and only intended to besmirch my reputation.
- Finally, my commitment shall serve as my covenant GOD and to the Fiipino people and I shall perform my duties as an elected representative and servant in accordance with the Constitution and my faith in GOD!
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereby set my hand this 24th day of April, 2013 at Manila Polo Club, Makati City.
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People’s Representative People’s Representative People’s Representative
BISHOP EFRAIM TENDERO BISHOP REUBEN ABANTE
Religious Sector Religious Sector Religious Sector
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Media Representative Media Representative Media Representative