Sectoral Reps Take the Limelight in Election Forum
Sectoral representatives from the community of informal settlers, the youth group, women and children sectors, the farmers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and indigenous people (IP), were the center of attention as they brought to fore their issues and concerns in yesterday’s forum, “Voices of Zamboanga: Sectoral Conversations with the Local Candidates,” at the Garden Orchid Hotel Convention Center, this city.
The youth representative raised the issue of proliferation of illegal drugs and rising incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the city. The Children and Women sectors reported child trafficking and the prevalence of bullying and corporal punishment in schools, and violence committed against women, respectively.
The challenges posed by living in constant fear of eviction and arson, and the resulting problems of squatting including poor health due to absence of a water system and flooding, were presented by the representative of informal settlers.
“Seco ya… maga animal nohay mas sakate para kome, ta seca el siembra. Falta comida na mesa. Maga farmers ta imferma na calor. Tormento el agua,” said the spokesperson for the Farmers group, describing the dry spell experienced by the members of the sector in the field.
The Indigenous People representative highlighted the case of the group’s continuing struggle in claiming ancestral domain, while the speaker for Internally Displaced Persons related the difficult living conditions in the transitory site, zeroing in on the water shortage crisis.
Three sets of “Conversations” were held during the forum. The first set composed of the candidates for vice mayor, namely: Luis Biel III, Cesar Iturralde, and Melchor Rey Sadain. This was followed by the aspirants for the mayoralty post: Alberto Cajayon, Maria Isabelle Climaco, Nur Sahibul, and Mario Yanga; and lastly, the congressional representative hopefuls: for District 1: Cesar F Climaco, Crisanto dela Cuz, Celso Lobregat, Taib Nasaron, and Anito Tilos; and for District 2: Manuel Jose Dalipe, Abdulkarim Ladjamatli, and Lilia Nuño.
There were three parts in each set of “conversations” in the program: first, the candidates presented their general programs and platforms; second, sectoral representatives brought forward their issues and concerns based on the social agenda drawn during the series of consultations and political discourses conducted by the forum organizer United Front for Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections (UF HOPE) the last few months in the barangays. The sectoral representatives also fielded in questions addressed to the political aspirants.
The third “conversation” consisted of an exchange between the electoral hopefuls and sectoral representatives where the candidates responded to the issues and concerns raised earlier by the sectoral representatives during the second round of conversations.
An open forum was held following the conversations, with a panel composed of representatives from the business sector, the academe and a socio-civic organization, who raised questions addressed to the candidates on various topics, including governance, environment, peace and security, basic services and livelihood.
A Covenant Signing signifying commitment to an honest, orderly and peaceful election by the electoral candidates and sectoral representatives, culminated the day’s event.
The forum was organized by ADZU, COMELEC and UF HOPE, the largest electoral coalition of multi-sectoral groups in Zamboanga, composed of the COMELEC, DILG, AFP/Joint Task Force, PNP, PPCRV, NAMFREl, LENTE, PAZ/ZABIDA, Silsilah, Kabalikat, D’Alert, academe, NGOs, and private organizations.