US group seeks good governance and end of Duterte rule in 2021 elections
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Just as the Philippines is into another major lockdown, Filipinos in the US have virtually launched an electoral organization called 1Sambayan (One Nation) to field candidates for the 2022 elections to end the Duterte presidency.
Filipinos abroad were a major factor in Pres. Duterte’s victory in 2016. Now, many Filipinos in diaspora have changed their hearts as the Philippines battles against poverty, corruption, and the pandemic.
Jesuit priest and activist Fr. Albert Alejo, a convenor of the electoral body, quoted Pope Francis in his inspirational speech. “May spirituality itong ginagawa natin – political love. Charity goes beyond the personal. The good Samaritan helped someone (beyond his race). Politics is ethics applied for the wider good. God bless the activists. We should express love that transforms society.”
The launching event on August 11, 2021 was attended by over 180 participants in the East and West Coast and hosted by Ginger Leopoldo and actress Giselle Tongi.
Prior to the launch, Canada had already launched its own chapter. 1Sambayan will field a single slate of one President, Vice President, and 12 senators in the 2021 Philippine elections.
Dr. Joseph Carabeo from Pampanga said during the launch that the Philippines’ battle cry right now is “malusog at palaban na sambayanan” (healthy and vigilant country).
Addressing the participants in the US, Carabeo said that he understood that Filipinos abroad are equally disturbed and worried for their family and neighbors in the Philippines. He is the founding president of the Community Medicine Practitioners Association (COMPASS).
“We are in a restrictive ECQ. Government’s response to COVID19 is inutile and mostly criminal in nature,” Carabeo said.
The Philippines has recorded over one million in COVID19 cases, registering 150 deaths per day. “But this is underreported. As we know, palpak ang reporting. Reporting is flawed and delayed,” he said.
The government’s COVID19 response, according to Carabeo, is a microcosm of the chronic neglect of the Philippine healthcare system. Health care frontline workers continue to serve without hazard pay nor additional staff.
“Instead of health promotion and education, government has been more militaristic and punitive. Mas marami pa ang penalty dahil walang mask, walang social distance. Sana binibigyan na lang ng mask or why penalize drivers with exorbitant fees?,” he added.
“Ang mamamayan ay pinapatay. Pati health workers pinapatay (the citizens and health workers are being killed),” he said.
With unabated government corruption, such as undelivered medicines and the recent unaccounted monies worth 67.3 Billion Php earmarked for COVID19 procurement, Carabeo said many people and health care workers have died.
The current vaccination rollout is slow and the government’s goal has now been reduced to 50 million instead of the 70 million to reach herd immunity.
So what kind of health strategy is being implemented? Government is not set to reach herd immunity, queried the doctor.
“I don’t want to be the harbinger of doom. But that’s what’s happening now. Our goal is to be healthy and vigilant,” he said.
UP Regent Renee Louise Co, for her part, said that the Filipino youth needed to be in an environment where they can holistically grow and thrive.
1Sambayanan USA chair Yves Nibungco addressed the need for “grassroots organizing for the upcoming Philippine elections” and for Filipinos in the US to take an active part in the elections by participating in the absentee voting program.
As Alejo encouraged, “let us bring back good governance in the Philippines.”# (Featured collage: Fr. Albert Alejo, Dr. Joseph Carabeo, Renee Louise Co, and Yves Nibungco)