MANILA, February 6, 2004 (STAR) GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc - Politicians are complaining that they’re not hearing enough about platforms from one presidential aspirant. Reporters are grumbling that another refuses to give interviews. A spokesman is ranting that a business group is shutting out his candidate while gladly accommodating another. In the end voters are not getting what they need to know for an intelligent choice.

It doesn’t help any that Comelec lawyers are at a loss about their job. They’re restraining television networks from airing features on candidates, instead of thanking them for making the Comelec’s mandated information drive easier.

Timely perhaps is the issuance by Pagbabago@Pilipinas of "acid-test questions" to get national candidates to talk details instead of motherhood mouthfuls. These questions will be sent to all aspirants for president, vice president and senator. Groups that will hold forums and sponsor debates among candidates are encouraged to ask some, if not all, of the questions. P@P will have the replies published before election day. Before then, the candidates might get the hint about the public desire for sedate discussion of the pressing issues of the day:

1. How will you make the economy generate enough jobs and incomes sufficient for our basic needs?

2. How will you keep our communities in cities and countrysides peaceful, safe from crime, free of illegal drugs, and protected from armed violence?

3. How will you protect and restore our environment for future generations?

4. How will you ensure that every Filipino will always have enough to eat?

5. How will you enable every Filipino to obtain adequate, affordable housing?

6. How will you deliver a responsive government that is free of scandal and is a source of pride rather than shame for Filipinos?

7. How will you make the civilian bureaucracy and the military true, faithful amd effective servants of the public interest?

8. How will you repay your utang na loob to campaign contributors without compromising the public interests?

9. How will you rally and inspire Filipinos to work together in carrying out a strategy for succeeding in the world?

10. In the event former president Estrada is convicted, do you believe he should be pardoned?

11. Will you support public funding to enable present couples to choose among legal health services to achieve their desired family size, and to encourage future couples to want smaller families?

12. Will you support the fulfillment of the constitutional promise of land reform in the whole country no later than the year 2010?

13. Will you oppose any provision in the annual government budget whose execution requires mandatory prior consultation with legislators? Will you support a presidential veto of any such provision in an enrolled budget bill? Will you withhold release of funds by the budget department for any such provision that slips into law?

14. Will you support the attainment of a negotiated settlement of the communist and Muslim insurgencies no later than the year 2010?

15. Will you support all measures necessary, with adequate protection for the poor, to improve government’s efforts to consistently yield total revenues of at least 15 percent of GDP from the year 2006 onward?

16. Will you support the immediate elimination of government control or management of any media enterprise, either through privatization or by instituting multipartisan and multisectoral control of government media organizations that cannot be privatized?

17. Will you support full public access to complete and updated individual service records of all appointees in the PNP from the position of station chief and higher?

18. Will you support the vigorous prosecution of all cases to recover ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos era and after?

19. Will you support all measures necessary to bring down costs of electricity to consumers to levels comparable to those of our main international competitors?

20. Will you support the increase of real public spending per student enrolled in elementary and high school to match as soon as possible and then to maintain thereafter the level equivalent to that reached in 1987?

Some candidates will have their aides answer the questions. That’s all right. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If they win, the public will hold them to their replies.

* * * The Lourdes School Quezon City grand homecoming and 49th foundation rites will be held on Feb. 21, 2004, starting at 4 p.m., at the high school building. This year’s theme: Staying Alive. For details, call Abby Aquino, Alumni Office, tel. no. (02) 781-6475.

* * * Catch Sapol ni Jarius Bondoc, Saturdays at 8 a.m., on DWIZ (882-AM).

* * * E-mail: jariusbondoc@workmail.com

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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