USC Hosts Last Klarohay Ta! Candidates Forum for 2019 Elections (Afternoon Session)
Mega Cebu, in partnership with the University of San Carlos, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., and the Commission on Elections, along with a handful of private companies and organizations, held the last round of its Klarohay Ta! Candidates Forum for the 2019 Elections on April 29, 2019 at the Theodore Buttenbruch Hall of the Downtown Campus. This time, the forum intended to inform Cebuano voters of what the candidates have to offer Cebu and was attended by local candidates from the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) slate, namely, North District Representative Candidate Raul del Mar, Vice Mayoral Candidate Mary Ann de los Santos, and Mayoral Candidate and the incumbent mayor, Tommy Osmeña.
After introducing themselves with their respective track records, the candidates present were first asked about their solutions to help resolve the water crisis in Cebu. Congressman del Mar stated that he had been coordinating meetings and studies with the Metropolitan Cebu Water District to identify and develop additional sources of water including means of desalination in order to ensure a satisfactory supply. He also mentioned the building of water impounding structures for mountain barangays, as well as, the strict implementation of having rain water catchments in each home. Mayor Tommy Osmeña lamented that there must be a restraint to the extent of economic growth in Metro Cebu because growth in the countryside is neglected and at the same time, the extraordinary demand for water continues to grow.
He also mentioned corrupt corporations, specifically citing Ayala Corporation, for the depletion of water sources led by private wells. He complained about the corporation’s inability to build a dam after allegedly extracting water from Carmen River to supply its land developments in Liloan. Osmeña explicity said that these are some of the ways in which big corporations have cheated the people of Cebu. Apart from that, the potential of desalination must also be tapped according to Osmeña. He also explained how certain movements including USC’s, “Save the Water Shed”, have only created diversions that take us away from actual solutions to the water crisis. Meanwhile, Vice Mayoral Candidate Mary Ann de los Santos cited the need for private homes with deep wells to be accounted for.
On the issue of traffic, Congressman Raul del Mar stated that he had already submitted his proposal to reduce traffic to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation . He dubbed his proposal “Over and Under” since roads can no longer be widened, hence his proposed solution to build roads in the form of flyovers, tunnels and perhaps even a subway. According to del Mar, DPWH has found his proposal viable. On the other hand, de los Santos underscored the importance of following basic traffic rules as immediate solutions to the problem of traffic. Meanwhile, Osmeña explained how cities become congested because of the underdevelopment of the countryside. He even said that 80 percent of the country’s infrastructure funds go to Manila and in a way, Metro Cebu has also become congested because of its rapid economic growth. If more areas for growth are opened throughout the province of Cebu, then traffic can be relieved in congested megacities.
Osmeña also cited his plans to work on the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), stating that the problem with building subway stations is that billions in investments are needed and at the same time therefore billions in losses are blown out to keep it running. He further talked about his plans for the BRT in detail and announced that once its construction takes into effect, the transit system will begin in Bulacao and end in Talamban. He says that investing on public transit may cause inconvenience to private vehicles but this can shift the attention to public transit and ultimately, directing our focus towards public transit is the most practical and most economical solution to alleviating traffic in the city. Congressman del Mar proceeded to state that he has had no confirmation if plans for the construction of an Light Rail Transit system in Cebu have been approved by Duterte’s Build Build Build program.
On the environment, Osmeña stated that the political will of banning plastic bottles has to come from the people and if he is elected mayor and people decide that that is what they want to do, then he himself will implement the ban. On garbage disposal, Osmeña mentioned that he plans to further the trash for sardines exchange that has already begun in the city after seeing its positive effects. Meanwhile, De Los Santos agreed that the construction of green open spaces is part of smart urban planning. She and Osmeña also touched on the potential of a waste to energy program to address the overwhelming amount of garbage produced by Cebu. On his standard for a clean and presentable Cebu City, Osmeña states that solutions must be made for Cebuanos first and then the tourists and visitors will only follow.
On health and programs for the urban poor and the homeless, Osmeña cited the new Long Life Program, where people who are out of work are hired and paid a hundred pesos to deliver maintenance medicines to the houses of beneficiaries. Phase 2 and 3 of the program are also currently being developed. Osmeña mentioned that this is one proof of his administration’s economic use of funds. He also states that there is no criteria to avail of the Long Life Program and encourages more people to register themselves to the program, explaining that health is a worthwhile investment. Congressman del Mar also explained that they have a free hospitalization program where patients can be admitted in the rising Cebu City North District Hospital. De Los Santos also expounded on the administration’s City Hospitalization Assistance and Medicine Program and further explained that the Cebu City Medical Hospital is now under developments so that patients can begin to avail of their services for zero charge in the next few months.
Upon being asked if there was anything they would like to raise to Duterte if given the chance, Osmeña said that he had already conversed with Duterte and complained to him about his use of the police in politics. When asked by Osmeña to expound on this, Mary Ann de los Santos narrated an encounter with the police when her driver was apprehended at gunpoint for allegedly failing to stop at a checkpoint inside a private road. “There’s too much harassment already. It happened to me,” said de los Santos, further explaining that harassment had been directed to the BOPK slate and to its supporters. Meanwhile, Congressman del Mar says he would ask the president to look into the alleged encounter with the police and to sign his bill into law, which is the Magna Carta for the Poor.
Asked what would happen if Osmeña becomes mayor and Mike Rama becomes his vice mayor, Osmeña simply assured the audience that Rama will not become vice mayor.
This forum concludes the series of Klarohay Ta! Candidates Forums that ran from March to April held by Mega Cebu to inform local voters of the platforms that can be offered by running candidates to the province of Cebu.