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"Islands of hope" to go on campus tour

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:08:00 07/31/2008

I attended the press conference that launched the Kaya Natin movement at the Ateneo yesterday. Led by Governors Grace Padaca and Among Ed Panlilio, and Mayors Jess Robredo and Sonia Lorenzo, this group has the integrity, good intentions and enough dream power to help change things on the way to 2010. Kahit ano pa ang gawin ni Mrs Arroyo, there will still be enough clean and honest and brave people in government who will steer the country back to where it belongs -- in the front rank of Asia's vibrant democracies -- Danton


MANILA, Philippines—And then there were four.

Mayor Sonia Lorenzo has joined Governors Grace Padaca and Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio, and Mayor Jesse Robredo in a new movement for ethical leadership and good governance.

Expect to see them in universities not only to talk about electoral reforms and their campaigns against graft and gambling, but also to coax young leaders to run for public office come 2010.

“We will work toward promoting good governance, and encourage young people with integrity to run for elections and join government,” youth leader Harvey Keh said at the launch Wednesday of the movement “Kaya Natin!”

The movement aims to promote genuine and lasting change in government by promoting transparency, social accountability, people empowerment and electoral reforms, he said.

It was borne out of meetings among Padaca of Isabela, Panlilio of Pampanga, Robredo of Naga City, and later on, Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, to share best practices in governance with the rest in government and society.

The movement is eyeing as its new member Ifugao Gov. Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat Jr., who grew up in Manila, but opted to return to his roots in upland Ifugao and serve the people, advocating the preservation of the Igorot culture.

“We’ve demonstrated that this can be done. So we thought maybe we should form our group and expound on certain principles of good governance. This is for real. This can be done,” Robredo said.

Panlilio, who won over two political giants during the 2007 gubernatorial elections in Pampanga, agreed.

“People are telling us that we’re creating islands of hope. If we band together, we will have a stronger effect. But we can’t do this together. We need an external-based group,” he said.

Keh, director of Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government, facilitated the dialogue. He is a member of the movement’s secretariat.

Metro campus tour

For starters, the four local executives will go on campus tours in Metro Manila for a series of individual talks on their advocacy.

The tour kicks off at Far Eastern University on Aug. 7, and proceeds to Miriam College on Sept. 4, Philippine Normal University and Ateneo de Manila University on Sept. 5, University of the Philippines on Sept. 23 and the Asian Society of the Philippines on Oct. 2.

“We will also encourage the youth to register for the 2010 elections,” Lorenzo said during the launch at the Ateneo’s Walter Hogan Conference Center in Quezon City.

She added: “We plan to organize Kaya Natin! Leadership forums wherein we hope to invite young professionals and executives who may be interested to join our advocacy.”

Lorenzo, who was drafted at the last minute to run for mayor in 1998 after the original candidate was disqualified, implemented development programs that empowered citizens to improve the delivery of services in San Isidro.

Padaca, who toppled the powerful Dy clan in 2004 and won a second term in 2007 as Isabela’s governor, stressed the need to tap youth volunteers this early to ensure clean elections in 2010.

Wanted: Idealistic students

“We need college students with idealism and energy ... just to take pictures with their cell phone cameras. Let’s engage and involve them in this concern for electoral reforms,” she said.

Keh said the movement would travel to different localities, look for young leaders and train them on how to win elections for free.

“This is similar to the Ateneo School of Government’s ‘How to win an election’ program to encourage young people who don’t come from highly influential families, to give them training on how to actually run a good election and how to be able to do a post-election program so that the election will not be stolen from them,” he said.

No to endorsing candidates

The four executives, who will act as spokespersons for Kaya Natin!, however, ruled out endorsing a presidential candidate in the 2010 national elections.

“We don’t want our attention to be diverted by things that will divide us,” said Robredo, recipient of a string of awards not only for running Naga City well but for involving his constituents in governance.

“If and when the time comes when we agree on matters concerning the coming elections, it might be just a result of a natural flow of event.”

Open to every Filipino

The movement is also launching its own website mainly to give Filipinos working abroad easier access and closer interaction with the leading lights in local governance. It can be reached at

“Overseas Filipinos can sign up to be part of the activity. There will be chat sessions and video streaming wherein Filipinos will have a chance to interact with the local government officials,” Lorenzo said.

Keh said: “There are more Filipinos who want to help this country. We’d like to get them more involved.”

It is open to every Filipino who “believes and is willing to work toward promoting genuine change and ethical leadership,” according to Keh.

“Kaya Natin! is not just a movement, but more importantly, a way of life,” he said.


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