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Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

/ 05:23 AM February 08, 2022

Composite. photo of the presidential candidates for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

MANILA, Philippines — Following is a quick rundown of the promises of the candidates for president in the May 9, 2022, elections.

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Leody de Guzman #2

Photo for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

Leody de Guzman #2

■ Revoke the Philippine ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement because the lowering or removal of tariffs will harm local industry and agriculture.

■ Support moves to legalize same-sex marriage; every person’s sexual preference must be respected and the LGBT community is a part of society that needs to be recognized by the State.

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■ Oppose the abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as efforts to recover the hidden wealth of the Marcos family need to continue for it to be returned to the people.

■ Oppose the lowering of the age of criminality, as long as the root causes of poverty and the lack of opportunities are not addressed; the disadvantaged youth falling into petty crimes have been the Duterte administration’s favorite scapegoats.

■ Legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, in line with the development of indigenous materials for research and production of local medicines and therapies.

■ Work for the passage of a law banning political dynasties, for they have monopolized power in their “kingdoms,” stunted the people’s political maturity, and held democratic institutions and processes hostage.

■ Resume peace talks with communist rebels to pave the way for long-lasting peace by addressing the legitimate grievances of the marginalized.

■ Work for the passage of a law requiring all public officials, especially the elected, to release their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), including bank records with accompanying waivers.

■ Restore and institutionalize the University of the Philippines and Department of National Defense accord as part of upholding academic freedom in the state university.

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■ Pursue other electoral reforms, such as a ban on substitutions by withdrawal and on candidates charged with administrative and criminal offenses.

■ Raise the salary and benefits of health workers; offer them more incentives for staying in the country.

■ Push for a policy requiring employers to grant mandatory paid quarantine leaves to workers who get COVID-19.

■ Work toward the grant of decent and just wages, including raising to P750 the minimum wage not only in Metro Manila but the entire country; the last wage increase in the capital region was four years ago.

■ Adjust the government’s pandemic response by having more scientists and medical experts, instead of retired generals, taking charge; make mass testing more accessible by lowering cost; speed up vaccination by going house-to-house.

■ End reliance on imported agricultural products and raw materials; modernize agriculture by providing a wide range of assistance from the government.

■ Identify “questionable” loans incurred by the outgoing and former administrations and determine which loans really benefited the people; for those that did not benefit the people, payments should be renegotiated.

■ Shorten the daily work shift from the current eight hours to six hours, without diminution of wages and benefits, as part of a long-term solution to unemployment; the two hours deducted can be put together to create new job slots.

■ Support the legalization of divorce; allow married people disadvantaged by their contract to fully enjoy and maintain control of their lives the way they see fit.

■ Push for the demilitarization of the West Philippine Sea and refuse to be an economic, political and military battleground of the superpowers; reach out to Asian neigbors that also have maritime claims and propose a “shared regional area of essential commons” for a sustainable and rational use of natural resources in the contested region.

■ Impose a wealth tax amounting to a one-time 20 percent levy on the country’s 500 richest families as of 2020, which would target a yield of P1 trillion; recurring wealth tax on financial assets to be institutionalized, ranging from 1 percent to 5 percent based on a tiered-tax rate and a wealth threshold.

—JEROME ANING 

Isko Moreno #2

Photo for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

Isko Moreno Domagoso #3

■ Cut taxes on fuel and electricity by 50 percent and have government bear the forgone revenues in response to rising oil prices and power costs.

■ Impose a moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands to protect farmers from exploitation by property developers, and push for the passage of the proposed National Land Use Act to establish parameters and limits on lands used for commercial and housing projects.

■ Invest in fiber-optic technology to interconnect schools, government offices and law enforcement agencies in order to streamline communications in the bureaucracy.

■ Foster a mining-friendly policy to attract foreign direct investments and generate local jobs.

■ Allocate 1.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to housing per year to build 1 million disaster-resilient housing units in six years for the country’s estimated 4.5 million homeless persons (3 million in Metro Manila).

■ Raise the budget-to-GDP ratio of education from the present 3.17 percent to 4.3 percent, widen accessibility to quality education, and revise the curriculum in all academic levels with focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics program.

■ Provide interventions and support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by increasing credit availability for MSMEs from the present P1.5 billion to P30 billion, and easing the cost of doing business.

■ Build more public hospitals and healthcare centers throughout the country, with a target of providing 107,000 additional hospital beds in his first 1,000 days in office.

■ Provide scholarships to 10,000 medical students per year to achieve a ratio of one doctor per 1,000 Filipinos equitably distributed across the country.

■ Increase the salary of nurses and other healthcare workers; no details given yet.

■ Build tourism highways and develop tourism circuits throughout the country, along with increased investments in public infrastructure to strengthen the physical, economic, and digital connectivity among growth centers and rural economies.

■ Infuse more infrastructure development in areas or provinces with low human development index, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao, to bring about more inclusive economic growth.

■ Raise government budget for research and development (R&D), from the current 0.16 percent of the GDP to the global standard of 2 percent of GDP.

■ Raise farmers’ incomes by lowering the cost of agricultural production, providing risk-free capitals, building more irrigation systems, and establishing the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

■ Ban new importation permits for agricultural products during harvest season to protect local farmers.

■ Assert the arbitral ruling against China and defend Filipino fisherfolk’s sovereign fishing rights in the West Philippine Sea by following the example of Indonesian President Joko Widodo (who visited a disputed island claimed by his country and China in January 2020).

■ Pursue the Philippines’ historical claims on Sabah against Malaysia “the way we do it in the West Philippine Sea” against China.

■ Have LGBTQI representation in his administration and a gender-inclusive policy (although he opposes same-sex marriage).

■ Hold owners of social media companies accountable for the spread of disinformation among Filipinos by invoking the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

■ Pursue cases of corruption against past and present officials, including cases involving the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, and retain the mandate of the PCGG in going after the Marcos loot.

—DJ YAP 

Ping Lacson #5

Photo for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

Ping Lacson #5

■ Retain the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict but institute reforms by “correcting the mistakes” made during its first years of existence by allotting more funds for barangays that really need them to end local rebel presence.

■ Revive peace negotiations with communist insurgents, but turn them more into localized initiatives as there is this perception of the supposed “lack of sincerity” among leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

■ Revert from cash-based to obligation-based budgeting; adopt “zero-budgeting” schemes and stop the yearly wastage of funds.

■ Move for the digitalization of government processes, starting with the full and effective implementation of the national ID system as a way to curb corruption.

■ Undertake a “massive cleansing” of the bureaucracy by adopting a top-to-bottom approach in eradicating corruption, and apply the principle of “leadership by example.”

■ Push for the full funding of the Universal Health Care Act to the tune of P260 billion; one of the goals is to achieve the ratio of one hospital bed for every 800 people.

■ Increase the benefits of healthcare workers and set up a health station in every barangay.

■ Intensify funding support for micro, small and medium enterprises through “comprehensive and targeted fiscal stimulus packages.”

■ Retain and reform the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by providing not only cash assistance but also livelihood packages for the poorest of the poor.

■ Sustain the current government thrust in infrastructure development, but shift from “Build, Build, Build” to public-private partnership to encourage more private sector investments and help the government minimize expenditure.

■ Revitalize the agriculture sector by providing subsidies for seeds, fertilizers, farming equipment, irrigation, and other facilities to increase farmers’ productivity; end the “importation-dependent mentality.”

■ Support the decentralization of governance, which can cascade to local communities about P300 billion in funding that gets lodged with the central government and usually ends up unspent due to delayed implementation of projects.

■ Pursue joint exploration activities with other countries concerning gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea; foster alliances with other claimant nations to stave off China’s expansionist activities.

■ Advocate a holistic approach to solving the country’s drug problem; go after the “big fish” while showing compassion for the small fry; push for a wider information campaign by sending uniformed personnel to schools.

Adopt a more “proactive” approach to the health crisis; go for a more timely closure of borders and ease vaccine distribution; not in favor of military officials in charge.

■ Promote “responsible mining with a data-driven approach;”

■ Encourage participation of nongovernment and civil society organizations in looking after the environment

■ Devote more effort to uphold the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, but also invest more in local R&D to improve the manufacturing sector and provide local job opportunities.

Enable government to further exercise oversight powers over activities on social media.

—MELVIN GASCON 

Bongbong Marcos #7

Photo for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

Bongbong Marcos #7

■ Continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial drug war but focus on the prevention aspect instead of the enforcement side; improve rehabilitation centers rather than treat drug addicts as criminals.

■ Set aside the 2016 arbitral ruling and pursue a bilateral deal with China concerning the disputed waters; reject US help in dealing with China on the maritime row with Beijing.

■ Continue Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program; upgrade aging seaports, airports and railways to make the country a major logistic hub in Asia; modernize the Pasig River ferry system.

■ Support the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to improve the country’s energy situation.

■ Remain unsupportive of moves to craft an anti-dynasty law, since the dominant political families in the country are not necessarily bad; “so, why will you make them illegal?”

■ Grant tax amnesty for MSMEs hurt by the pandemic, and tax holiday for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.

■ Increase the budget for health care and medical research, especially to strengthen the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (so the latter would be able to produce its own vaccines).

■ Publicly disclose his medical records if elected president.

■ Allow mining operations in order to raise revenue and revive the economy (but wary about permitting open-pit mining due to the difficulty of controlling the pollution it causes).

■ Minimize importation of agricultural products and support the suspension of the rice tariffication law because it has ravaged local agriculture; focus instead on improving local production.

■ Legalize abortion for women who are victims of rape or incest, since they should be given the choice to do what they want with their bodies; but it’s still up to Congress.

■ Offer training programs to displaced overseas Filipino workers on skills that are needed in the international labor market, then pursue diplomatic efforts to convince other countries to hire them again.

■ Revive the BLISS housing program (of the Marcos administration) and build high-rise complexes in urban areas; because the land is limited, this is better than horizontal, house-and-lot developments.

■ Abide by the court rulings on the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth cases; strengthen the antigraft role of the PCGG, which is tasked to handle the recovery of ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates, as it has not been conducting many investigations.

■ Talk with big corporations about the labor issue known as “endo” (workers at the end of their contracts, without security of tenure); ask the companies to change their system so some workers may become regular employees entitled to benefits.

■ Release his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (although he was initially against making such documents public lest they be used for political purposes).

■ Appoint officials with no history of involvement in corruption; strengthen the system of checks and balances to minimize fraud; let the law take its course if any member of his Cabinet is shown to be involved in corruption.

—LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND NESTOR CORRALES 

Manny Pacquiao #9

Photo for story: Race to the Palace intensifies: Promises of the presidential bets

Manny Pacquiao #9

■ Build a “mega prison,” with a hospital, as the main detention facility for government officials arrested for and convicted of corruption; it will have signal jammers and surveillance cameras that can be monitored from Malacañang.

■ Require all government officials to release SALNs and sign a bank secrecy waiver, undergo regular performance audits; establish special courts for corruption cases.

■ Never allow China to bully the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, but be open to dialogue on joint exploration as long as Philippine sovereign rights are recognized, protected; create a panel to pursue focused peace talks with China.

■ Continue the war on drugs and criminality but in the “right way”—with no extrajudicial killings, respect for human rights, and mandatory use of body cams in law enforcement; this campaign is to be funded from savings generated from an anti-corruption drive.

■ Have five of his wealthy businessmen-friends set up businesses in the Philippines and adopt a Filipinos-only hiring policy; support to MSMEs through interest-free loans and more one-stop shops, online portals ensuring graft-free and hassle-free applications.

■ Support Charter change and shift to a federal form of government to decentralize power between central and local administrations; preside over consultations on federalism himself.

■ Remain opposed to a policy prohibiting unvaccinated people from using public transportation and other restrictions on their mobility; not in favor of forcing them to get COVID-19 jab.

■ Prioritize approval of P50,000 across-the-board minimum wage for health-care workers (HCWs) in the public and private sector; use savings generated from an anti-corruption drive (present minimum wage for government HCWs is P20,000; private sector, P 13,000).

■ Provide cheap internet access to more Filipinos with the use of low-orbit satellites; compel service providers to deliver bandwidth promised to subscribers.

■ Pursue a “one student, one gadget” program and internet connectivity to help poor students keep up with the demands of “new normal” education; to be funded by savings generated from an anti-corruption drive.

■ Favor mandatory ROTC program for students but not mandatory military service.

■ Double salary of public school teachers through savings generated from  an anti-corruption drive and realigned allocation of intelligence funds; ask Congress to legislate wage increase for private school teachers, and order National Wages and Productivity Commission to revamp rates for this sector.

■ Broaden the Commission on Higher Education Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program by increasing the number of deputized higher education institutions implementing it; provide incentives to companies who sponsor undergraduate employees availing of the program.

■ Eliminate the need to import fish; extend interest-free loans to fishermen so they can buy bigger boats, modernize fishing methods and boost harvest

■ Prioritize free housing for victims of calamities and sustainable housing communities for informal settlers or families who are only renting; use savings generated from an anti-corruption drive.

■ Push Congress to craft a 50-year master plan for infrastructure and disaster resiliency, to be funded and implemented by every administration; include construction of disaster-resilient housing for those living in danger zones, earthquake and typhoon-proof multipurpose domes stocked with water and supplies, effective flood control, underground cables for power and communications

■ Prioritize free hospitalization, checkups, and maintenance medicine subsidy for senior citizens; to be funded with savings generated from an anti-corruption drive.

—JULIE M. AURELIO

Leni Robredo #10

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Leni Robredo #10

■ Restore trust in government by implementing the Ease of Doing Business Act and hastening digital transformation in government processes.

■ Allot P50 billion yearly for six years to complete socialized housing projects and build safe and affordable in-city housing; if the intended resettlement projects aren’t finished yet, demolitions and forced evictions would not be allowed.

■ Pursue a P192-billion job creation plan to strengthen key industries.

■ Strengthen Filipino maritime, aquaculture, and shipbuilding industries (“blue industries”), especially since the country already has the second-largest maritime domain and is the second-largest supplier of maritime workers in the world.

■ Revive the manufacturing industry and establish a transition framework away from fossil fuels and thus create more “green” jobs, like green transport (e-vehicles and sustainable systems).

■ Create a national program for the unemployed where those who were displaced from their jobs will receive aid equivalent to three months of their salary to tide them over.

■ Pursue the end of “endo” schemes and “contractualization” to protect workers.

■ Protect the welfare of OFWs by entering into bilateral agreements with countries that host OFWs; also upgrade their skills so they won’t be underemployed abroad.

■ Allot P500 billion to fund an ambitious, encompassing COVID-19 plan covering healthcare systems and workers, and aid for those under lockdowns.

■ Support MSMEs so they can recover from the impact of the pandemic and provide incentives so they don’t have to lay off employees.

■ Ensure that all benefits under the Magna Carta for Health Care Workers, including hazard pay, are not only given promptly to healthcare professionals but also expanded to cover free and regular COVID-19 testing, paid COVID-19 sick leaves, medical insurance, and allowance for food and transport.

■ Push for more accessible mass testing to reach the acceptable 5 percent positivity rate as recommended by the World Health Organization; establish free mobile testing hubs in high-risk areas.

■ Reform the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and assign experts in health insurance and actuarial science in the agency.

■ Push for the resumption of in-person classes for students in low-risk areas so they can reopen schools.

■ Increase the country’s education budget from the current 3 percent to 6 percent of the GDP.

■ Implement a national learning assessment program that will look into the opportunities that the students missed because of the pandemic; create a remediation program to address these gaps.

■ Craft a better compensation package for teachers.

■ Raise the national budget for health care to make it better equipped.

■ Establish more tertiary hospitals across the country, especially in rural areas.

■ Hasten the rollout of the universal healthcare system.

■ Continue the war on drugs “with modifications”; less focus on street-level enforcement but more on targeting global supply and rehabilitation of users and dependents.

■ Continue the “Build Build Build” program but with a stronger focus on rural development and creation of “green” jobs aligned with efforts addressing climate change.

■ Revive peace talks with the CPP-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines to help end the decades-long insurgency.

■ Form alliances with other nations as leverage for enforcing the 2016 arbitral ruling upholding the country’s position on the West Philippine Sea issue.

■ Pursue multilateral talks and exhaust all diplomatic options with China concerning the disputed waters.

■ Operationalize recommendations given to the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs to solve the country’s drug problem.

■ Strengthen and modernize the country’s national defense.

—KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING 

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