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MANILA, Philippines – The volunteer movement seen in the presidential campaign of Vice President Leni Robredo is something unseen before, and may provide inspiration for people-driven campaigns, which can ultimately challenge political dynasties.
In the latest Newsbreak Chats episode on Thursday, March 31, Inday Espina-Varona, Rappler’s head of Regions, said the Robredo campaign was “showing the way” in terms of how volunteer movements should be, especially in the Philippines where campaign funding had long been synonymous to big-time donations.
“May pagbabago. First time ko nakikita ito sa kampanya na talagang independent ang volunteer organizations dito,” she said. (There really is change. It’s my first time to, in the Robredo campaign, that volunteer organizations can be really independent.)
“Right now they’re showing [with the Robredo campaign] probably like what [people] did with [United States president Barack Obama] some time ago: kakayanin ng ordinary na mga tao na mag-push ng kampanya (ordinary people can mount campaigns like this) through their own funding,” Varona added.
The campaign for Robredo and vice presidential candidate Senator Kiko Pangilinan is heavily fueled by supporters and volunteers. Her huge campaign events across the Philippines, dubbed as “people’s rallies,” are mostly organized by local volunteer groups usually called the Robredo People’s Council.
House-to-house campaigning, meanwhile, is led the same way.
Setting up for the future
For Varona, the volunteer system will “go a long way,” especially in the fight against political dynasties that have long plagued numerous localities in the Philippines. She said it would most likely take two generations more until the existence of dynasties are effectively challenged in a greater extent.
At this point, however, most political dynasties will continue to be entrenched whoever wins the presidency.
A study by the Ateneo School of Government found that dynasties increased by 1% or 170 positions per election period from 1988 to 2019, while at least four candidates for president and vice president come from political clans.
Ryan Macasero, Rappler’s Cebu bureau coordinator, pointed out that youth engagement in Cebu – not just for Robredo but for local candidates as well – is creating an impact. But there would be changes needed.
“There are a lot of brilliant ideas…if we’re able to make it easier to fund-raise from the community, get smaller donations, and to be able to mount viable challenge to these dynasties,” he said.
“Their takeaway from this campaign should be: if we work hard at it, it’s possible,” Macasero added.
Miriam Grace Go, Rappler’s investigative editor, said that whatever the outcome of the May 9 polls would be, it’s important for the volunteer groups behind Robredo’s campaign to realize the degree of influence they have established in their own localities, as well as their overall efficiency in mounting the movement.
“At least in their own local elections, meron nang epekto sa inyong community, pataas nang pataas,” she said.
“Don’t you think [the volunteers] are alternative candidates to begin with kung may ganito kayong leaders sa volunteer movement ninyo? Sana iyon ang huwag nating bitawan,” Go added.
(At least in their own local elections, there’s already an increasing impact on your communities. Don’t you think the volunteers are alternative candidates to begin with if you have these kinds of leaders in your volunteer movements? Let’s not waste the momentum.)
Read the stories in our Political Dynasties 2022 series:
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- Political dynasties 2022: Espinos still lynchpin of Pangasinan politics
- Political Dynasties 2022: Evardones reach Eastern Samar summit
- Political families crowd Eastern Samar candidates’ list
- Political Dynasties 2022: No heirs for Osmeña, Rama in Cebu City
- Political Dynasties 2022: Garin patriarch of Iloilo hard act to follow
- Political Dynasties 2022: Benitez clan guns for Bacolod City
- Negros Occidental big clans offer ‘soft’ support for Marcos
- Political Dynasties 2022: Zubiris rule Bukidnon after Fortich
- Political Dynasties 2022: Clashing families spring from Dongkoy Emano
- Political Dynasties 2022: Dongkoy Emano morphs into kingpin after EDSA revolt
- Political Dynasties 2022: Two families dominate Zamboanga Sibugay politics