Gutierrez to Poe: Don’t mistake showbiz for substance

Last Monday, in an interview with ABS-CBN, I observed that compared to the other presidential candidates, Sen Grace Poe had the “leanest resume.” This statement was an honest, off the cuff, and, I would like to think, fair, assessment of Sen Poe’s track record in public service: She has been in government for barely five years, only starting in 2010 when, after reacquiring her Filipino citizenship, she was appointed to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Comparing that with the track record, for instance, of Sec Mar Roxas, whose career in public service spans over two decades, with distinguished stints in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and in the Cabinets of three Presidents, and the observation is clearly more than justified.

I was somewhat surprised, therefore, when Sen Poe took it upon herself to respond to this candid remark. While admitting that her resume was indeed lean, she attempted to brush aside the significance of this point by saying that this meant she had no “excess baggage.”

While I appreciate that she took time to answer the point, I do not think she came close to addressing the issue. Track record and credentials are key considerations in evaluating candidates for public office, particularly when that public office is the Presidency of Republic of the Philippines. Sen Poe’s cute “no excess baggage” sound bite might make for good showbiz, but it does nothing to answer the substantial question of her experience and qualifications. She shouldn’t mistake showbiz for substance. The voters, our fellow Filipinos, certainly deserve more.###

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Gutierrez: Candidates who raise issues about “integrity” should be ready to walk their talk

Each candidate coming out to sow intrigue and assail the integrity of their rivals should take a step back and honestly assess if they are ready to walk their own talk.

Part of integrity is being ready, willing, and able to put yourself up for public and legal scrutiny, whether it is in facing up to corruption charges or in forthrightly answering questions relating to your qualification for office. It is being transparent and honest about your personal and professional life. It is answering inquiries head on instead of dismissing every question or criticism as “black propaganda” or dodging the issues and whining instead about “dirty campaigning.”

Mar and Leni have received more than their fair share of unfair attacks these past few weeks. Everything from photoshopped pictures supposedly showing “epal” tarps along EDSA, to deliberate misquotes attached to memes circulated on social media, to five year old news stories rehashed as “current events,” to the filing of a CoC for President by a man named Manny “Mar” Roxas, to the unending barrage of unfounded accusations that Mar is behind everything from Duterte’s cancer rumors to Poe’s disqualification case to Binay’s legal problems.

But Mar and Leni haven’t whined, or complained, or screamed “black propaganda!” at the top of their lungs. Instead they have quietly, calmly, patiently answered every question, issued the necessary clarifications, and taken the appropriate steps to address each issue.

THAT is walking the talk when it comes to integrity.

As for the others, are they ready to claim the same?###

Bicam panel approves SK reform bill

Members of the Bicam panel are all smiles after the approval of the consolidated version of the SK Reform bill.

Members of the Bicam panel are all smiles after the approval of the consolidated version of the SK Reform bill.

 

The bicameral conference committee approved on Tuesday afternoon a measure seeking to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) amid criticisms that it has become a training ground for future traditional politicians.

“The new rules will shut out political dynasties and traditional politicians from overextending into the SK system, and co-opting its mandate as tool for youth representation by turning it into a mere rubber stamp,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, one of the principal authors and member of the Bicam panel, said.

After reconciling the conflicting provisions of the House and Senate versions of the SK reform bill, the bicam panel voted for an SK overhaul that will change the rules governing the SK processes and eligibility of leaders by insulating it from too much politics and placing greater emphasis on developing the SK leaders’ skills and capacity.

The proposed measure will be sent back to both chambers of Congress for ratification before it is forwarded to the President for signature.

Among the key provisions of the bill include a higher age limit, financial independence, mandatory training and skills development of SK leaders and banning of political dynasties.

In an effort to promote a higher level of accountability among the elected and appointed SK officials, the proposed reform measure sought to increase the age bracket for youths eligible to assume a post, from the 15-17 years old age bracket to 18-24 years old.

“By raising the age limit, we are also raising the level of accountability among elected SK officials, particularly as they are given greater autonomy to undertake SK decisions while ensuring that they are old enough to face charges of any potential wrongdoing,” Gutierrez said.

The proposed measure will also render SK financial independence, thus, giving the SK officials greater freedom in its operations, disbursements and encashment of their fund, income and expenditures.

To ensure there is adequate safeguards on the use, and against potential abuse of fiscal autonomy, the bill also provided for a mandatory training and seminar on leadership, program development and youth advocacy.

“By building the capacity of SK leaders to effectively identify and address the needs of the youth sector within their constituencies, we could prevent the waste of the people’s money to less than optimal, even unnecessary, projects, that does little in contributing to the development and empowerment of the youth sector,” Gutierrez said.

The consolidated bill has also adopted an anti-dynasty provision requiring that an SK official ‘must not be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to any incumbent elected national official or to any incumbent elected national official or to any incumbent elected regional, provincial, city, municipal or barangay official, in the locality where he or she seeks to be elected.’

“With these crucial reforms underway, we look forward to finally seeing the SK system living up to its potential of becoming an effective vehicle for advancing youth interests and a training ground for capable and effective leaders of the future,” Gutierrez concluded.

Members of the Bicam panel from the House of Representatives present include: Reps. Pedro Acharon Jr., Raul Del Mar, Anthony Del Rosario, Kaka Bag-ao and Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez.

Senate members present were: Sens. JV Ejercito, Koko Pimentel and Bam Aquino, who was the presiding officer.###