February 8 – As the nation begins the months-long election campaign season, a group of advocates bared their “ultimate wish list” as they launch the iChange: Vote for our Future initiative, an issue-based electoral campaign that seeks to ensure that issues that matter do not get drowned in the influx of personality politics and traditional campaigning.
Launched by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), iChange is supported by a wide network of advocates, including children’s rights groups, youth leaders, women’s rights groups, sexual and reproductive health campaigners, and rural development advocates who aim to empower Filipinos with essential information needed for them to decide and vote wisely in the May 2022 elections.
“As the campaign season officially kicks in, the chatter and clutter it will surely bring in might drown out the messages and calls for genuine change from the most vulnerable sections of our society. Through iChange, we hope to amplify these calls and elevate the conversation and center it around human development concerns that can and should be addressed by all candidates and parties,” PLCPD Executive Director Romeo Dongeto said.
‘Laser focus on human dev’t issues’
PLCPD hopes to engage both candidates and voters through iChange and mobilize public support for several campaigns linked to human development causes. The campaign will center on four key policy issues — (1) tobacco control, (2) children’s rights, (3) reproductive health and the prevention of violence against women and girls, and (4) inclusive and sustainable rural development.
iChange: Vote for Tobacco-free Generation will search for candidates who will champion pro-health, pro-children, and pro-youth proposals for regulating tobacco products, with the Legislature recently passing bills that failed to rein in the tobacco industry, and instead allowed a free hand for the proliferation of electronic cigarettes and other next-generation tobacco products in the market.
As the convenor of Child Rights Network (CRN), the largest alliance of organizations and government agencies pushing for children’s rights through legislative reform, PLCPD — through iChange: Vote for Children — will also call on candidates to adopt policies and platforms that put children’s welfare and development at the very core.
iChange: The GirlDefenders’ Vote, meanwhile, is set out to push for a comprehensive women’s rights agenda in Congress, including the enactment of the bill on adolescent pregnancy prevention, the implementation of mandatory comprehensive sexuality education under the RH Law, and meaningful budget allocation for preventing gender-based violence, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, iChange: Vote for inclusive and sustainable rural development is designed to amplify social enterprise advocates’ and farmers groups’ calls for equitable land use, adequate funding for social housing, and social protections for informal settler families and workers in the informal economy.
Alongside the launch of the iChange electoral campaign platform, PLCPD has also been tracking the position and performance of candidates running for the top three positions – from presidency to Senate – on various human development policy issues carried by the iChange campaign. These information will be shared by the group in the run up to the 2022 elections. “As the election frenzy officially commences, we take courage in the fact that voters want to look beyond personality and talk about policy issues and there are candidates who have been fighting – even before the election season – to ensure that primordial people’s issues are not lost in all the noise. We are ready to hit the ground running and ensure that we attain the change we need, not loose change or empty illusions,” Dongeto ended.