1 Sambayan


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

"Sambayan"  meaning “tent," refers to the newly launched coalition of leaders belonging to groups representing democratic forces in the country. At their initial  salvo, a recent media meeting at the Makati Sports Club, the group led by its Chair, retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, retired Associate Justice and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, retired Ambassador Albert del Rosario, retired Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Fr. Albert Alejo, and several other citizens, gathered concerned citizens to join them  in this task of  uniting  the fragmented democratic forces by securing a victory in the May 22 national election.

They hope to do this by selecting a single slate of candidates.

"This is not the way that this country should be run, and I don't think we lack the managerial capability or the vision," said Carpio. He then explained what he meant by "good governance and the attributes a leader must possess - "that he must lift us out of poverty, must make us feel proud, reject extrajudicial killings and all forms of dictatorship, one who does not rob us of our sovereignty and our right to our national territory.”

He noted how the present administration terrorized legitimate dissenters and how it had wasted precious time in handling the pandemic and the economy.

What the Filipinos ought to do, led by the government is to uphold the rule of law. Make a strong stand for the Constitution, and restore decency in the public sphere, reject all those identified with the dictatorship and authoritarianism,"  Del Rosario noted.

The key to all these, the convenors noted, is unity. All the groups and political parties representing the left, moderate, and the right have agreed to abide by the selection process, and to support the coalition's single slate of candidates.

The media event started by showing visuals of the current state of Philippine society – mishandling of the pandemic, hunger, violence and extrajudicial killings.

"How can our conscience allow this?" asks Carpio-Morales who said this was the reason for organizing 1Sambayan, an educational campaign aimed at helping the voting public in selecting trustworthy public officials, people with a track record of competence and integrity. In addition to these criteria, the aspirants must have "solid, well-informed platforms for addressing the country's problems, and a clear-cut plan on their implementation. They must be winnable, must be fully ready and willing to run for office, must have recall among the voting population, the aptitude to campaign and engage with them, and the verbe to compete with other candidates for the people's votes.

1 Sambayan will conduct their own online survey and take into account other surveys by reputable organizations. From the shortlist, 1 Sambayan members will do the selection. The convenor will undertake thorough interviews with each aspirant. This selection process is unprecedented in Philippine electoral history.

During the media launch, questions from participants during the face-to-face and online launch reflected concerns on the selection process, logistical concerns, as well as unforeseen problems due to the uncertainty of the times.  Considering that traditional parties, especially those from the administration are well-funded, how would Sambayan be  able to compete?  And how can it prevent potential cheating at the polls. “Who appear to be the likely candidates?” Here, the convenors cited Vice-President Robredo, former Senator Trillanes, Senators Lacson, Poe and Binay, Mayor Isko Moreno, and explained that these candidates include potential candidates for the vice-presidency. How does one beat the trolls, fake news and disinformation?

Former Congressman Neri Colmenares, also of the convenor group, said they are preparing a process that is transparent. Thus, if it is trusted because it is transparent, it would be acceptable. This would then contribute to unity. Cong. Magtuto said they will continue to work even after election to ensure that what was promised would be delivered.

The youth  and their role especially in the use of social media was deemed critical,  not only in winning the election but in sustaining the changes introduced.

Sec. Luistro underscored the importance of reaching out to the barangays through the barangay chairs who can help us reach out to the people in the more marginalized areas.

Former Negros Occidental Governor Lito Coscoluela noted that an equally important goal of 1 Sambayan, in addition to the selection of a common slate of candidates that meets the criteria,  is that 1 Sambayan could play an important role in strengthening civil society.

The over a hundred who texted during the two-hour launch expressed great optimism. A beacon of hope, a ray of light in the darkness!  A great idea in this age of COVID!

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