CFA Video Salutes “Candles in the Dark”

SEPT 30TH 2008

Afew good men and women of courage are among the subjects of CFA’s upcoming video documentary entitled “Candles in the Dark: Lessons in Good Governance.” The personalities featured are: Ed Panlilio, Grace Padaca, Jesse Robredo and Heidi Mendoza.

Last year, the people of Pampanga voted Ed Panlilio – a priest-on-leave – governor of the province. They junked two rivals. One was the governor at that time, who was said to be responsible for the provincial government’s dismally low revenues from quarrying. The other was the wife of a man alleged to be a big-time gambling lord. In Gov. Panlilio’s first six months in office, Pampanga earned P120 million in lahar quarrying fees. Contrast that with the P30 million earned by his predecessor, Mark Lapid, during the latter’s last full year in office. Many jueteng operators are also angry at Panlilio because his serious campaign against gambling has deprived them of their former income.

A polio-stricken radio commentator in Isabela, Grace Padaca, got fed up with reporting news about the mismanagement of her province by the powerful Dy family. With almost zero money and no political machinery, she ran for Congress. Despite alleged widespread cheating against her, she lost by only 44 votes. In the following election, she ran again – this time for governor – also against a Dy. This time she won by a margin of more than 40,000. Since then, Padaca has greatly improved the lot of the farmers in her province by buying their crops at more than what unscrupulous middlemen used to offer. Like Panlilio, she waged a war against gambling. Lately, she has been going after illegal loggers to stop the deforestation of her province. For her accomplishments, Padaca was given this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for Good Governance.

Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo also won the Magsaysay Award in 2000. Robredo was cited for turning around Naga City’s decline and making it a first-class city. Robredo did this by making quality and immediate public service the cornerstone of his city government. He favored transparency and accountability. And he engaged the lay citizenry into a dynamic working relationship with the government.

Former COA (Commission on Audit) auditor Heidi Mendoza worked with the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate a high-profile case where an Army general was sentenced to a lengthy jail term with hard labor. Ms. Mendoza has since joined Dilaab Foundation, an NGO dedicated to corruption watch.

CFA is producing the video as part of its efforts to promote citizenship education.