by Randy Tuaño
Lecturer, Department of Economics
To help communities monitor the promises of candidates after they win in the elections, the Bantay Pangako project was formed in January by several Ateneo professors and civil society groups. The group requested the Pugadlawin political reform network, headed by Dr. Benjie Tolosa, then chair of the Department of Political Science, to spearhead the project.
Bantay Pangako modeled itself after what has been undertaken by other civil society groups.
One of these is the “Silingan Ka!” (You Are My Neighbor!) project in Zamboanga Sibugay in 2001, which aimed to raise consciousness on issues that should be at the forefront of local elections. A covenant-signing process was then held between Silingan Ka’s representatives and the elected politicians, on the programs to be implemented after the elections.
In the mold of the said models, Bantay Pangako aims (1) to help poor communities in developing their own electoral agenda based on their needs, and (2) to present these agenda to candidates who can agree to undertake these if they win the elections.
An integral part of this is a covenant-signing process between the candidates and the community leaders. The communities, after the elections, are expected to monitor the winning candidates’ performance based on the agenda they signed. This process is closely linked with the Pinoy Voters’ Academy, a training program of the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), which aims to deepen the electorate’s political consciousness.
Dreams come true
So far, Bantay Pangako has been making progress:
- In February, Pugadlawin held dialogues with the leaders of Ateneo de Naga University, and made contacts with leaders of social action offices in
, so that similar efforts can be made in their respective areas. It also tasked its members who were working for the Ateneo School of Government (ASG) and the SLB to start conceptualizing the issue. Xavier University
- In turn, a training manual was developed to help communities who want to undertake a Bantay Pangako process. The manual was developed at the end of March by the staff of ASG, the SLB, and the Office for Social Concern and Involvement (OSCI), and the leaders of the Ateneo Student Catholic Action (AtSCA), the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA), and the Caucus of Development NGO Networks.
- Similar efforts were undertaken in
Naga Cityand in Cagayan de Oro City, where leaders in and NGOs organized a movement called "Managsilingan Kita!" (similar to “Silingan Ka!”) in Xavier University and Tacloban. Iloilo
last April 28, the AtSCA organized a Bantay Pangako process for its areas in Marytown, Park 7 and Kaingin. There, the AtSCA was able to help the communities develop their own agenda and present these to selected candidates for Quezon City councilor, who promised to implement substantial parts of the program. Quezon City
We hope that Bantay Pangako will not end with the May 14 elections, and that communities will continue to monitor the winning candidates’ promises. We also expect the Bantay Pangako process to be expanded before the elections in 2010.