USC hosts seventh Klarohay Ta! National Candidates Forum for 2019 Elections
Mega Cebu, together with the University of San Carlos, Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) and other sectors, hosted the seventh installment of Klarohay Ta! National Candidates Forum at the Theodore Buttenbrunch Hall, USC-Downtown Campus, March 27.
First time senate aspirants Ernesto Arellano (Katipunan Ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi), Edmundo Casiño (Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino), and Glenn Chong (Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino) were present in the forum as each delivered statements to fortify their political agenda.
The event aimed to provide an avenue for senate hopefuls to promote their platforms and hear their stances towards local and national issues, as well as their promises to the 3.2 million Cebuano voters. Several proposals were discussed in their opening statements.
Arellano, a lawyer, discussed unemployment to be the cause of poverty in the country. Addressing that the current minimum wage could not suffice the needs of the Filipinos. Further, he stressed his intentions in alleviating this problem should he be elected.
On the other hand, Casiño tackled several proposals such as the investigation of the preparators behind the Dengvaxia controversy and the suspension of the current Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 to cut electric bills by 50percent. In addition, he also discussed his intention to strengthen the agro-industrial sector, toughen relations with foreign nations, and continue developing the government’s K to 12 program.
Chong, former Congressman of Biliran, Leyte, emphasized his intention to terminate rampant electoral fraud, with his fingers pointed towards Smartmatic and COMELEC’s tandem throughout the forum. Citing to bring justice to the brutal death of his bodyguard, which was related to his accusations against Smartmatic in the incidence of vote manipulation in the previous elections.
The senatorial candidates were then asked for their stances of key issues of the country today.
On death penalty, Chong is in favor but only for heinous crimes and “scalawag police officials”. Casiño also agreed but only for high level crimes such as statutory rape, murder, plunder and for drug lords. Contrarily, Arellano disagreed, citing that “Life is a God-given gift to us, we have no right to take it under any circumstance,” further stressing that it is the state’s obligation to preserve life.
On federalism, Casiño emphasized that there are pros and cons to it and it is still subject to further studies. Chong on the other hand supports the change, citing the lapses and provisions in the current charter that has the need to be changed. Arellano also strongly supports federalism, emphasizing that it returns the power to the people, strengthening the country’s democracy.
On lowering the age of criminal responsibility, Arellano disagreed, stressing that the legislative body of the Philippines erred in doing so. He argued that children between the age of 12 to 15 “do not possess the capacity of discernment which would hold them criminally liable.” On the other hand, Casiño claims it is an inappropriate time to lower it down but rather, develop legislation to strengthen the juvenile court for the children to be able to rehabilitate with the same age group. Chong agrees, but emphasizes on rehabilitation. Arguing that children are vulnerable from criminals.
On the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, the three were not in favor. Citing that it is anti-poor and intensifies the difficulty in purchasing our basic needs. With Casiño saying that the act only “chokes” us to hunger.
On same sex marriage, Arellano was in favor, stressing that society should be able to provide a mechanism where people will be able to develop themselves. Further, Casiño was also personally in favor, but highlights that the current constitution prevents us from doing so. Chong is also in support, emphasizing the need to respect the rights of individuals and to give them equal rights in the law.
On withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, both Chong and Casiño support the move stressing that Filipinos know their culture,, practices and legislation more than any foreign body. On the other hand, Arellano opposes the withdrawal, citing that the drug war compelled the drastic move.
The forum ended with the ceremonial signing of commitment by the candidates of the symbolic Bugsay that represents the principles of Mega Cebu, pledging their support for the vision of the nation-centered proposal.
The forum delivered the concluding set of senatorial candidates after presenting 20 aspirants in the past two weeks, with the next set of forums focused on local candidates from the province of Cebu. Governor and vice governor aspirants will be featured on the next session slated on April 1.