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Church-based political party gears up for 2010 polls

October 4, 2008 6:53am
MANILA, Philippines - Despite its dismal showing in the 2007 elections, a Church-based political party will again field candidates for the 2010 national and local elections.

Online news site The News Today reported that the Ang Kapatiran, which advocates God-centered politics, launched its campaign for new politics in Iloilo Wednesday.

"The people's need for a real alternative to the dominant brand of politics remains," said Kapatiran founder Nandy Pacheco, who participated in the recently concluded national convention of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines.

Pacheco said their campaign would focus on the grassroots and lower levels.

For his part, party president Eric Manalang said they expect to field 4,020 candidates in the elections and expect half of them elected to office.

"2,010 in 2010 is our call for new politics," said Manalang.

He said the party will focus its campaign in the 200 towns and cities with the biggest percentage of young voters.

Pacheco said it is possible that they will also field candidates for President and for both houses of Congress, so long as the candidate adheres to their principles and platform of government of the party.

Last year, Ang Kapatiran fielded 30 candidates including three for senator and one for vice governor. Only John Carlos de los Reyes won, finishing second as councilor of Olongapo City.

Yet Pacheco said they were encouraged, not discouraged by their performance.

"We may not have won many seats but we got more than the votes that we expected showing that the people saw us as a viable alternative," he said.

The three party's three senatorial candidates - Martin Bautista, Jesus Zosimo Paredes and Adrian Sison - lost but each got an average of 700,000 votes.

Manalang said this is already a significant achievement because their party had minimal exposure and spent only P3 million for the campaign of their candidates.

He said they are now recruiting candidates especially "young with fresh ideas" especially from the 25-to-40-year-old age bracket.

"We want to tap young, homegrown leaders who believe in our principles and not just those with looks, money and family connections," said Manalang.

He said they will provide the potential candidates a six-month training on politics, value formation and party principles. These also include training on winning elections and politics in partnership with the Ateneo School of Government.

The party plans to put up around 200 training centers nationwide to be supported from the grassroots.

"People will have to share the burden if they want better government and governance," said Manalang.

Pacheco said the key issues they will push include their opposition to pork barrel, political dynasties, gambling and billboards containing pictures of government officials especially in government-funded projects.

The party is also actively campaigning against the controversial reproductive health bill which is being debated in Congress.

"Our party and our campaign is our response to the Church's call for the laity to be more involved in the bringing better government and fighting graft and corruption," said Pacheco. - GMANews.TV