USC Hosts Fourth Klarohay Ta! National Candidates Forum for 2019 Elections (A.M. Session)
The morning session had the attendance of four party-lists, including, Alliance Advocating Autonomy (1-AAAP), Ako Bisdak, Bayan Muna, and Magdalo; represented by nominees Mike Pato, retiree Rear Admiral, Ernesto Enriquez, Bayan Muna regional coordinator, John Ruiz III and Elmer Cruz respectively.
The chair of the Political Science Department at USC, Brenette Abrenica, acknowledged the incident that took place last March 18, 2019 at the third senatorial forum, emphasizing the ground rules and mechanics for the candidates, as well as for the audience.
Candidates were then tasked to address their response to the question, “what can you offer Cebu Province in general and Metro Cebu in particular?”
The candidates delivered their opening statements. 1-AAAP representative, Mike Pato, made a point of autonomy and federalism being their party’s advocacy and affordable public housing as his personal advocacy.
Furthermore, Pato said that the two most important things that are needed include more money or greater part of income that Cebu generates from its own project, and the right to decide for the people.
The first nominee of Ako Bisdak, retiree Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez discussed the party’s three basic platforms for the government; cultural reintegration, infrastructure connectivity and economic integration, under this, the program of tax reforms. Enriquez also stated to think as one, and that regional development was the solution he proposed to solve the problems of Mega Cebu, calling it Mega Visayas.
Bayan Muna representative John Ruiz III, talked about how their party, since 2001, has been standing for underrepresented and underprivileged sectors. Ruiz stated that the party has been pushing for advancement in agriculture by supporting the farmers, agrarian reform, empowering people through housing projects, having national industry, developing public transportation, creating the social fund and SSS pension plan for senior citizens, taxing big and foreign companies, being against the TRAIN law, and acting as the voice for the development of the Visayas.
Magdalo party-list representative, Elmer Cruz highlighted how their party has been functioning well in legislation, stating notable bills that were enacted into law under their authorship and co-authorship which includes Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, Free Irrigation Act and Philippine Identification System Act. Cruz also pointed on oversight, making sure that no one in an executive position is abusing their power, as well as being the voice for those against China’s economic control over the Philippines,citing the dam project proposed to be funded by the foreign, as an example.
The on-going campaign was conferred among the candidates.
On the issue that party-lists are losing their essence by being infiltrated by political figures and groups, all the candidates disagreed. 1-AAAP stands on its autonomy or federalism advocacy even before Duterte while Ako Bisdak was proud to say that they are ordinary people and have no politicians in their party. Bayan Muna stood on its advocacy against dynasty law and the need to pass the genuine party-list and nominee law. Magdalo has been consistent and never relied on political party in decision-making.
The worries of Mega Cebu woes in regards to water and food security were then raised. Cruz said that collaboration is needed, and whenever the Philippines would have transactions with other countries, there must be transparency. Ruiz proposed a series of small dams instead due to the probable damages that these big dams might cause. Enriquez announced plans on growth and decongestion of Cebu, as well as connecting Cebu to Bohol through bridges and pipes to have supply of water. Pato discouraged dams and advocated autonomy to plan the solution.
On Federalism, 1-AAAP and Ako Bisdak agreed. Bayan Muna were against the currently proposed federalism and believed the local government code should be strengthened instead. Magdalo did not support federalism and said that empowering local government units (LGUs) must be prioritized.
On the country’s progress in spite of recurring problems of water and food, Pato said that there must be a change in the system; solve conflicts within LGUs, and as an example, Yolanda projects must be pushed through instead of the law recognizing lands as wilderness when it’s not. Cruz focused on collaboration and long term planning while Ruiz said that the country should develop its own, with the government recognizing their role in the development plan. Enriquez looked into the cause of problems and cited Singapore’s system in water management as an example for a probable solution.
A question from the audience asking how people would benefit from Bayan Muna when they are against the government, simply answered that it was a wrong notion. Ruiz emphasized that they are not anti-government and instead are questioning the government.
The two new party-lists, 1-AAAP and Ako Bisdak stated their prioritized legislations. Pato proposed amendment of section 15 of the constitution and autonomy in Cebu andEnriquez proposed infrastructure connectivity, tax code, franchise code, and local government code.
For the Mega Cebu Development Authority Bill, if they would be given a seat, the three candidates except for Bayan Muna fully support the bill. Ruiz said that they needed to further their studies upon this. Enriquez supported Mega Cebu having the proposed Mega Visayas.
On death penalty, Bayan Muna and Magdalo were against it, stating that justice system must be improved instead. Ako Bisdak approved but only for drug traffickers as did 1-AAAP but for heinous crimes, stating Christine Lee Silawan’s tragedy.
With long-term actions, youth participation is encouraged by Magdalo through educating peers and strengthening democracy. Bayan Muna stated that the youth must be engaged in patriotism and love for the country through letting them participate. Ako Bisdak emphasized cleanliness in politics and making the youth know that their vote counts, thus it should not be bought. 1-AAAP encouraged the youth to build their future as leaders through studying well, keeping away from drugs and being active.
Closing statements then followed. Cruz stated that they were the voice against China’s aggression towards the country. Ruiz emphasized the stand against the TRAIN law and belief in ending incontractualization. Enriquez stated that they are for the people whilePato emphasized the need for autonomy and federalism as well as prioritizing shelter for the people.
Commitment signing of candidates of Bugsay principle by Mega Cebu to show and support that the advocacies are for the country then concluded the event.
The local candidate’s forum would follow this coming April.