Free rides, purple hearts, Text hotline mark party-list groups’ early poll drive

Drivers who are members of Transmission (Transport in Southern Mindanao for Independence, Solidarity and Nationalism) gave free rides to the public in at least three routes Thursday in support of party-list contender Anakpawis.

Editha Duterte, regional spokesperson of Anakpawis Southern Mindanao told MindaNews it was the drivers’ way of helping the group in the campaign to win more seats in Congress. 

In 2004, Anakpawis won two seats in Congress, represented by Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano.  Kabataan Youth Party also launched an SMS (Text) hotline called "Kabataan Txtpress" in a bid to catch public attention.

"We will use the most accessible technology for the youth, which is SMS (short message sending), to gather their concerns in the fastest and most convenient way," Karla Hyasmind Apat said in a press statement.

The party plans to use the hotline to receive views of the youth on current issues and to encourage their part in the discussions.  Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan and other militant groups running for party-list representation are among the first to post bills and posters here as the campaign period for senatorial and party-list elections began Monday.

The party-list system, based on Republic Act 7941 which was signed into law in 1995 and first tried in the 1998 national elections, was aimed towards program-based politics rather than on personalities and “trapos” (traditional politicians) .

Anakpawis has authored a number of bills including the Repeal of R.A. 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Act (HB 1065); the nationalization of Petron Corporation (HB 4206); the 125-peso across-the-board wage hike for the workers (HB 1063); and the 3,000-peso across-the-board salary increase for employees (HB 1064), among others.

Grace Gamalinda, Gabriela's coordinator for Davao City said they will also go to barangays and organize women's fora to help raise public awareness on women's issues.

She said they expect to have an easier campaign because "every household has a woman who could relate to the issues we are raising," she said.

Duterte stressed, however, that even before the elections they were already in the streets raising public attention on various issues. "That's what we really do, this time we will just focus it on the elections. The issues are really the same," she said.

Anakpawis will launch more campaign strategies, Duterte said. She said they will make use of the May 1 Labor Day mass actions as a "miting de avance" (grand rally).

Campaign materials of party-list groups like Suara Bangasamoro, Amin (Anak ng Mindanao), Bayan Muna and other militant groups were posted on walls, trees, fences along the streets of Davao side by side with candidates for senator.

Members of Amin took a top down vehicle Wednesday night in a posting operation carrying with them bundles of posters and large pails full of paste.  "Regina", a food vendor in Davao's Rizal Park said she could not understand the party list system yet but she is ready to listen to them if ever they approach her to campaign.

Dolfo Cabanit, a shopper along San Pedro Street's textile shops said he voted for a party list in 2004 but his choice did not win.

"I want to vote for a party-list more than a person because at least they have a stand and an issue-oriented platform in Congress," he said in the vernacular.