PNS –Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. Wednesday pushed for a “national covenant of peace and cooperation” binding to national candidates and all stakeholders in next year’s election to avert election-related violence, a senior spokesperson for the candidate revealed.
The covenant could be hammered out and signed under the auspices of the PPCRV “to shift the focus of the election to a campaign of ideas and platform of government,” said Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay.
“This election means so much for a nation in transition. We should take every step to ensure that violence does not influence the ballot. A national covenant of peace and cooperation, to be signed by all stakeholders, is a giant step in that direction,” Magsaysay said.
Before registering his candidacy for the 2010 election at the Commission on Elections Tuesday, Teodoro and running mate Edu Manzano joined their relatives, friends and supporters at the Manila Cathedral for a mass offered for a “Peaceful and Honest Election.”
He vowed a leadership of “healing and political reconciliation” and to make cooperation among all leaders, regardless of party affiliations, a hallmark of his administration “so that the greatest amount of reforms and benefits would be ploughed back to the people.”
“Working together offers us the best chance of helping our country get back to the path of development and progress,” Teodoro said.
Magsaysay, in a press statement, said the Maguindanao massacre—unmatched in the scale of its savagery—was a wake-up call to the nation.
“More than winning, candidates and their supporters must ensure that electoral exercise is peaceful and credible,” she said.
“The Filipino nation as a whole should emerge as the winner,” he said.
Magsaysay said Teodoro has reiterated his call for the exercise of free expression and respect for a free press.
She said Teodoro believes that “only a free flow of information in a democratic society” can help the electorate make informed choices when they vote.
“The citizens’ right to information on matters of public concern is best served by a professional, robust and honest media,” the bar 1989 topnotcher and Harvard trained lawyer was quoted by Magsaysay as saying.
All candidates have a duty under the Constitution to ensure the protection of journalists and the free flow of ideas and information, he said.
“All players in next year’s elections should recognize the role of the fourth estate in ensuring transparency and fair play. A working democracy cannot exist without journalists,” she said quoting the Lakas-Kampi CMD standard-bearer.
Fifty-seven people, 30 of them newsmen, were killed in the infamous Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao last November 23. It is the worst election-related violence in the country’s history.
Earlier, Teodoro earlier called for a stricter implementation of the laws on firearms possession and ownership to curb the flareup of violence. He also proposed the immediate suspension of civilian permits to carry firearms in election hotspots throughout the country.
Last Tuesday, Teodoro promised to continue wide-ranging reforms that are beneficial to the public, especially in the area of social and economic reforms.
In his platform of government Teodoro said he will focus on reforms providing quality education for poor but deserving students, improving incentives for all government workers, enhancing research and development, upgrading disaster response capabilities, adding more infrastructures and communication networks for all the rural areas in the country, developing further the Filipino entrepreneurship, and fast tracking research and development in information technology.