Let's make verdant dreams real.

Props go to the #ReaksyonTV5 for their grilling of my #1 senatoriable, Teddy Casiño. The panel led by program anchor Luchi Cruz-Valdez included PCIJ’s Mei Magsino and Philippine Star EIC Amy Pamintuan, an ensemble who kept the pressure level high all throughout the discussion.

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After going through the usual questions on his alleged linkages to the revolutionary New People’s Army and their Permits to Campaign, the panel did what other interviewers usually failed to do: talk about the issues. For the benefit of those who weren’t able to watch, here are a few notes on the points discussed:

  • The panel asked Teddy what he thinks about the taunting thrown his way by no less than President Benigno Aquino III himself on his 2.6 percent vote conversion showing in the then latest surveys. They also asked him what he thought of his 24th place showing in the said surveys.Teddy pointed out that even Aquino started with a much lower voter preference rating when he started to run for the presidency, and only experienced a meteoric rise to fame due to his larger-than-life parents Cory and Ninoy. Teddy said he was confident the ratings would improve dramatically during the campaign period as he shares his platforms, advocacies and analyses.

  • Teddy furthered that despite not having artistic fame or well-entrenched political dynasties, it is the Bayanihan kind of movement of dedicated and enthusiastic advocates that fuels his campaign. These supporters are completely different in motivation and commitment as opposed to professional operators and voting bases with which trapos spend millions on.

  • The panel pointed out the public perception of the Left as a fighter (a whiner, even) but with no concrete solutions presented. Teddy dispelled this by pointing out that the Left brings a concrete program of alternative policies and programs every time they engage in issue-based campaigns. He pointed out how media and critics tend to focus on the more ‘exciting’ critical exchanges and, of course, the standoffs in protest actions. Teddy presented three main programs of action: enacting genuine land reform and agricultural support, building Filipino industries to generate permanent jobs alongside meaningful wage increases, and the lowering of prices of utilities.

  • The panel also brought up the issue of the Left’s beef with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in PH. Teddy pointed out that the Makabayan only wants to defend the constitutionally guaranteed right of Filipino industries to be given priority, harking back to the golden age of industrialization during the 1950s.The discussion here became very interesting. The panelists pointed out that the advocacy for industrialization was indeed during the 1950s but belonged there, while utilities and industries receiving an influx of FDI became more efficient and productive. Teddy refuted this idea, sharing the sentiments of local livestock producers being threatened by the entry of a Thai agri-industry giant given a six-year tax holiday and duty-free importation rights.

    Local producers challenged government to grant the tax holiday and other economic privileges, which they said would result in the domestic livestock industry becoming more productive and generating more revenue than that of the Thai firm. This concrete example was a golden pitch for greater state support for domestic industries, but it would have been stronger if Teddy was able to explain why the country would benefit from greater domestic capital flow as opposed to the vicious cycle of FDI and export capital.

  • Teddy explained the exorbitant price increases as just one of the resulting impacts of completely privatized and liberalized public utilities and industries to answer the point on more efficient services from the private sector. It would have been a more convincing argument if he cited data on price increase trends post-deregulation of the oil and other utilities, but I guess this is hard to recall in the heat of the discourse.

  • The panelists pointed out how militants have taken to increasingly violent actions. Teddy rooted the growing conflict in the growing desperation of the masses as government agencies such as the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continue to ignore the worsening plight of the poor.

  • On the question of inter-conflict among the Left, particularly between the Makabayan bloc and the Akbayan, Teddy focused on the question of Akbayan’s continuing claim of legitimate representation of the marginalized and under-represented. Indeed, most of Akbayan’s officials have been appointed to high government positions. This makes them a political party in power that can no longer claim themselves to be marginalized, as opposed to Makabayan being a coalition of clearly oppressed sectors of society.

  • I personally wanted to hear more of the policy and analysis differences between Makabayan and Akbayan. Akbayan’s apologism to the Aquino government has resulted in seriously flawed and compromising policy positions, such as their shooting down of the Student Rights and Welfare Bill and their defense of the Cybercrime Law.

  • Panelists pointed out the growing opinion that the Party-list system was a failed system that only wasted government funds, which Teddy clarified was a direct result of dynasties, big business interests and trapos hi-jacking the system. He agreed that the system is seriously flawed, but that the repeal of the system would only result in the further marginalization of the exploited masses.

Overall, it was nice to finally hear talk of the economy and other big-ticket issues that government must be addressing. It was truly a feat for Teddy to be on top of the discourse where all three panelists were machine-gunning questions all at the same time. Electoral discourses should take a leaf or two out of this interview. Tama talaga si Teddy: it is high time to bring in a higher level of campaigning in the 2013 elections.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me point out that I am one of Teddy’s full-time volunteer new media officers. All views are mine, not our movement’s.

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