WITH the aim of screening out candidates unfit for public service, a Church-based group came up with the LASER test, a set of questions that can guide voters in tomorrow’s elections.”
The LASER (Lifestyle, Action, Supporters, Election Conduct, Reputation) questions are meant to raise the quality and standards of our politics and politicians,” the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation Inc. said in a statement. The questions focus on whether candidates are involved in graft and corruption or supported by drug lords.
Dilaab used the same test in the 2004 elections and reported that at least one candidate known to be in cahoots with drug lords did not get elected.
The group however refuses to disclose its findings for this elections, but it has encouraged other groups who have applied the LASER test to candidates to share its findings with others. The questionnaire was disseminated to bishops and seminaries nationwide.
Below is the LASER test:
LIFESTYLE: “Does he or she have unexplained wealth?”
Public officials are mandated by the 1987 Constitution to lead modest lives. The lifestyle-check program, used by anti-corruption NGOs, judges whether public officials lead modest lives or not.
There are concrete steps people can do to determine the lifestyle of candidates.
If they are already public officials, the test will be an acid one; if they are only aspiring to become one, lavish lifestyles of the candidate or his or her family can be a good indicator of whether or not he or she will lead a modest life.
ACTION: “How will he or she fight against corruption and remain a person or integrity?”
Candidates need to be asked what actions they have done or will do to combat graft and corruption (and illegal-drug money.)
Specific issues should be addressed. They, for instance, should be asked how they will support the right-to-information bill, key to the anti-corruption crusade.
Furthermore, what mechanisms or personal practices will they adopt so that they will remain a person of integrity if elected?
SUPPORTERS: “Is he or she close to corrupt individuals or drug lords?”
The rumor mill plays a lead role here. Drug addicts, for instance, may be a good source for identifying who drug lords are supporting. Likewise, gamblers regarding gambling lords. “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are,” as the saying goes.
ELECTION CONDUCT: “Does he or she buy votes? Does his or her campaign funds come from drug money or other polluted sources?”
This is where citizens and Church-based groups monitoring elections come into the picture. They can provide data on those engaged in vote buying and those who violate campaign laws. If they can transgress the laws during the campaign period, they can do so with impunity later.
REPUTATION: “Has he or she been involved in corruption and/or drug issues?”
This is where government agencies like the Ombudsman’s Office, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, and other government agencies can contribute. There are actually individuals who have been administratively charged and yet have obtained a Temporary Restraining Order and are still running for office.
Carmela Ledesma is a third year journalism student at the University of Sto. Tomas. She is presently doing her internship with the PCIJ.