-- ASOG launches Fact Check to verify candidates' stands

April 18, 2013
Arlet Coronado

The Ateneo de Manila University, through the Political Democracy and Reforms (PODER) program of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) launched Tuesday morning their latest election related project called “FactCheck 2013”.

Under the project, faculty members and researchers studied the senatorial candidates’ claims, positions and track records on five main issues - the Reproductive Health Law (RH Law), the Sin Tax law, the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, the prosecution of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and former President Gloria Arroyo, and the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro.

“Elections should serve as a viable means for citizens to interact and dialogue with both their current and perspective leaders” said Atty. Jaime Hofileña, Vice President for Social Development of the Ateneo de Manila University. “Crucial in this is the veracity and quality of information made available especially by the candidates, the prospective leaders during the election period. It’s upon such information that voters and other critical stakeholders should base their decisions.

On its launching day, Fact Check speakers presented the unity of the stands of the two political parties, TEAM Pnoy and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on coalition politics and the Freedom of Information Bill. Professor Joy Aceron, program director of PODER and Professor Rene Raymond Raneses of the Political Science Department led the discussion.

“Ideally, they form coalitions out of similar platforms and principles” explained Prof. Aceron. By gathering information about the general stand of each parties and the reform agenda presented by the Aquino Administration, PODER presented the stand of each senatorial candidates.
For coalition politics, PODER presented five critical reform agendas or issues in the Aquino administration. At large, members of the Team PNoy showed support for the administration.

“This is very significant because it means that the Administration recognizes that having a supportive Senate is crucial in terms of advancing the reforms they want to achieve” explained Prof. Aceron.
There are of course exceptions. In the RH law, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manuel Villar and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III opposed the stand of the Administration. Escudero also opposed the stand of the administration regarding the Sin Tax law. “This is an interesting area of inquiry as to the basis of the position of Escudero but take note that he was one of the guest candidates of UNA initially. And this is where we are thinking that internal dynamics in the administration could also be a factor,” explained Prof. Aceron.
In the cases of Gutierrez and Arroyo everyone is supportive.
With regards to the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro, all are supportive, except for Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV who does not have a clear stand.

TEAM Pnoy is largely supportive but some of their members might need to explain their exact positions on the reform agenda passed by the administration.
UNA stated that they are not the new opposition and Professor Aceron said “they are actually telling the truth.” They are not opposing the administration since their stance on these issues are really different, varied, with no unified stand on the administration’s reform agenda and issues.”
The top 20 leading candidates stance on the Freedom of Information Bill was also discussed, and nine of them either co-authored or co-sponsored the Bill. These are Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Richard Gordon in the Senate, and Risa Hontiveros, Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito in the House of Representatives. Escudero, Pimentel, Jack Enrile, and Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay showed and voted in support of the FOI.
Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, Aquino, Grace Poe, Ramon Magsaysay, Ernesto Maceda, and Margarita “TingTing” Cojuangco have no track records of their positions regarding the FOI.
Fact Check 2013 aims to have their second discussion on April 25, 2013.