Presidential bets offer solutions to traffic woes, sea dispute
DAGUPAN CITY — Presidential candidates attempted to outclass each other during the first round of the last government-sanctioned debate in this city when asked by ordinary Filipinos about how they will solve the country’s biggest problems.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte offered to jet ski to a disputed area of West Philippine Sea and plant the nation’s flag on China’s reclaimed airport.
“Pag pinatay nila ako dun bahala na kayong umiyak dito as Pilipinas,” he said, later explaining that he did not want to sacrifice the lives of soldiers.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, on the other hand, said the government should invest in a new railway system.
“We have to have an entirely new railway system…from Manila to Sorsogon,” she said during the final presidential debate held at the Phinma University of Pangasinan.
She said there should also be a new modern airport, and the Land Transportation Office should make sure that drivers’ licenses are issued only to those qualified.
Both Santiago and former Interior secretary Mar Roxas agreed that diplomacy is the key.
However, the senator was also interested in going on the offensive.
“Kung nandyan sila sa ating katubigan at kinukuha ang isda natin, tatawagin ko ang mga coast guard bombahin ko ang mga yun,” she said.
“Kausapin natin sila tapos sabihin natin we have world public opinion behind us,” Santiago added.
Roxas, on the other hand, said that Filipinos should accept the fact that the Philippine government is no match to China when it comes to military assets.
But he said Filipinos should not give up on their claims in South China Sea. He said this is why the government went into arbitration.
Roxas assured the public that Filipinos can rely on the influence of the international community if the government wins the case against China.
“Subalit di natin dapat isuko. Kaya tayo dumulog sa korte. Magpasya ang international para sa atin…impluwensya ay maaasahan,” he said.
Poe had a more practical suggestion, telling the fisherman who asked the question that she would increase the number of Coast Guards and give handheld radios to fishermen so they can ask for help from the authorities.
“Atin yun at dapat hikayatin ang ating mga kakampi na tulungan at wag nating isuko yun,” she said.
On the issue of traffic, Vice President Binay told a commuter that he plans to separate the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to have two agencies devoted to solving traffic and improving communications.
“Education, enforcement, engineering” are the solutions to traffic, Binay said. Hitting the Aquino administration, he said the current problem is the implementation.
Roxas, however, pointed out that the reason for the traffic is the earlier government decision to have a DOTC and a Department of Public Works and Highways. He said the two agencies should be merged so they can come up with more coherent plans.
Duterte admitted that there is no silver bullet to solving traffic. He said he would like to copy Santiago’s proposal of constructing a new railway system.
Poe said roads should also be cleared and widened and the law enforced against those who use the roads as their “personal parking lot.”
She said the current projects of extending the trains to northern and southern Luzon should be closely followed.
Roxas, the ruling Liberal Party’s presidential bet, pointed out that those projects were already being done.
He claimed that 12 new coaches for the Metro Rail Transit are arriving every month while the ground breaking for the MRT 7 has already been done.
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