MVP is education czar; PRC’s 60th year

BUSINESS whiz, sports patron and philanthropist Manuel V. Pangilinan will be installed as the “Education Czar” of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) during the latter’s 18th anniversary on October 24. Apart from his personal involvement, MVP is contributing P100 million for PPCRV’s education program.

Goals of voter education. PPCRV chairperson Tita T. de Villa and PPCRV spiritual director Angel N. Lagdameo (incumbent president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines), in the presence of Commission on Elections Chair Jose A. R. Melo, will install Pangilinan during ceremonies in Tondo, Manila. They will also kick off the “massive” voter education campaign of the electoral watchdog.

Focused on the poor and disadvantaged sectors, this education campaign has three goals: (1) to encourage voters to use “an informed and principled conscience-based process for choosing candidates”; (2) to enlighten them on the “correct and enjoyable use of the automated election system”; and (3) to engage them in “pro-active on-going involvement in good governance.”

PPCRV’s voter education program is supported by GMA Network boss Felipe L. Gozon, Inquirer Chairperson Marixi R. Prieto and the other movers and shakers of “Eleksyon 2010.” It also has the unqualified backing of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines and its 1,260-member schools nationwide. (Incidentally, CEAP’s president – Monsignor Gerardo O. Santos – celebrated his priestly Silver Jubilee yesterday.)

Indispensable to e-Hope 2010. The PPCRV education program is indispensable to an electronic, honest, orderly and peaceful election in 2010 (e-Hope 2010). Enlightening the voters about the “whats and hows” of the automation system has an essential sine qua non: the system itself must be known and knowable. There is no better way to know it and to clear up misconceptions, fears and doubts than the transparency and dialogue that Comelec has consented to do under e-Hope 2010.

Melo and Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento have agreed to answer in writing the questions and comments raised in this column during the last two Sundays as well as those sent to the Comelec head office by readers and/or e-mailed to rvsarmiento@pacific.net.ph. I am still awaiting the promise of Sarmiento to open an e-Hope 2010 website that will, among other things, publish these questions and answers.

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PRC’s 60th year. The People’s Republic of China has just celebrated its founding 60 years ago. On Oct. 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed atop Tiananmen Gate the communist victory over the Nationalist regime. Since then, the world’s most populous nation of 1.3 billion has succeeded in propelling itself as an economic, military and political giant.

From being feared as a warmonger during the Korean conflict and the Cold War with the West (essentially the United States), China has regained its rightful place as a respectable, peace-loving and progressive nation. Last year, it enthralled the world not only with the most magnificent Olympics ever held; it also showed its athletic prowess by capturing the championship.

This year, it will dazzle the world again, not only as the least affected by the global economic crisis that has crippled the United States, Europe and Japan but as the leader in rising out of the turmoil. By 2010, as it celebrates 35 years of diplomatic relations with the Philippines, it will replace Japan as the second largest economy on this planet; and by 2020, it may topple the United States as the largest.

PRC’s transformation over the last 60 years from a war-torn, backwater bully to a politically stable, economically resilient, technologically advanced and diplomatically respected nation in 2009 is reflected, no doubt, in its relatively young, new-generation leaders, led by President Hu Jintao, who have inherited the prosperity savvy of Deng Xiaoping, without forgetting the doctrinal legacy of Mao.

Yes, this unique combination of free market and stringent political controls has unleashed the Chinese entrepreneurial skills and given the country unprecedented socioeconomic growth. Though still assailed by Western critics for its alleged poor human rights record, repression of ethnic minorities and rule of law inadequacies, China is nonetheless at peace with itself and with the world.

Greatness and finesse. China’s phenomenal transformation also reminds me of PRC’s new envoy to the Philippines, Liu Jianchao, whom I first met at a private dinner party hosted by Metrobank top boss George S. K Ty on March 24, 2009 just a few weeks after his arrival in our country. About that time, the PRC handed a note verbale to the Department of Foreign Affairs protesting the signing of the Philippine Baseline Act (RA 9522) that allegedly impinged on Chinese claims in the Spratlys.

Dousing fears of an armed confrontation in the South China Sea, the young, well-bred and mild-mannered Ambassador Liu assured me and the other dinner guests that the PRC was committed to the peaceful settlement of international disputes saying, “All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community.”

Such finesse, I thought, is typical of what China is today: a nation confident of its greatness, never hesitant to be humble – even accommodating – to a poor, perplexed and sometimes-suspicious neighbor. (For more of China, access my Dec. 21, 2008 column “Understanding China” at cjpanganiban.ph)

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