#UPsaHalalan: Senatoriables discuss stances on national issues

by ELISHA PADILLA

Senatorial candidates addressed inquiries on topics ranging from territorial disputes, to preferred presidential candidates during a UP sa Halalan 2016 event entitled “Senatorial Forum 1-Pagsusuri sa Pagbabago: Forum on Governance, Transparency, and Social Transformation”, held last March 30, at Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

The senatoriables present were: Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares; Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian; former senator Richard Gordon; Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; and former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The forum proper was divided into segments: introductory speeches; flash questions on pressing national issues; Q and A with a round of panelists; a series of light and personal questions; an open forum; and summary of points.

Stances on issues, briefly

Candidate FOI Law Pork Barrel Anti-Political Dynasty Law Consitutional amendment
Colmenares Yes No Yes No
Gatchalian Yes No Yes Yes
Gordon Yes Yes Yes Yes
Romualdez Yes No Yes Yes
Zubiri Yes No Yes Yes

 

Freedom on Information Law

            During the flash questions segment, the candidates were asked whether they are in favor of certain bills and amendments. All of them were expressed support for the passage of the Freedom of Information Law.

Pork Barrel

            On the other hand, only Gordon was not against Pork Barrel.

“What you mean is you don’t want pork barrel that goes to the pockets of your politicians. That’s what you need.” Gordron stated when asked to further explain, adding that not everything could possibly be accounted for during budget plannings.

 

Anti-Political Dynasty Law

            While all senatoriables said they are in favor of the Anti-Political Dynasty Law, they have expressed reservations and nuances encountered on the passage of this law.

Gordon said it would be easy for a candidate to say he or she is in favor of the Anti-Political Dynasty law just to be popular.

“Define political dynasty. If political dynasty is guns, goods, and gold then go after guns goods and gold, but do not reject people just because they have family [in public positions],” Gorden said, adding in jest, “Otherwise, Romualdez will never win, Marcos will never win, you will never win, Gordon will never win.”

Romualdez on the other hand said the definition of political dynasties should be operationalized within the bounds of the Constitution. “There are these definitions and nuances that we have to tackle on the plenary… the balancing of interest there is to look at term limitations. We have the Anti-Political Dynasty law but we have to look at term limitations.”

Anti-Political Dynasty bill principal author Colmenares then explained that in the current Philipine context political dynasties are not good. “Yung apelyedo mo habang binibigay, pinapatayo ng building, waiting sheds, nagbibigay ng relief, nando’n siya, kasama… Kaya there is no failed elections under a political [dynasty].”

“Strikto masyado ang bill ko, isa lang ang panalo. Nakiusap ang mga congressman, ‘Puwede bang dalawa?’ Ang sabi ko naman puwede naman nating pag-usapan sa plenary basta pumasa sana ang anti dynasty bill, kaya lang, unfortunately, ‘di siya pumasa,” Colmenares added.

 

Constitutional Amendment

            “Tingin ko dapat ang gobyerno buhos ang suporta, kapital, sa lokal na negosyo’t industriya bago niya buksan ang Pilipinas sa ibang industry,” Colmenares said.

            “We need to liberalize some of the industries… We need foreign investments in creating jobs” Gatchalian, who is in favor of economic charter  change, said although he is strongly against land ownership of foreign entities. The rest of the candidates except Colmenares share the same sentiments.

“You cannot make your constitution rigid,” Gordon said, citing the return of the US bases as an example. “Wala tayong flexibility. You cannot just say, ‘Time out, China, don’t invade us; we will amend the Constitution first.”

Zubiri also expressed his support in federalism to better represent different regions in the country. He cited the case of Mindanao which he said contributed 37 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) yet received only 18 percent of the budget. He also contrasted the Metro Manila’s infrastructure development with that of other regions’.

“We build 10-billion [peso] worth of bridges where there are no rivers and yet we could not build bridges where there are rivers,” Zubiri said

 

Aside from explaining their stances on these issues, the senatorial candidates also discussed their plans on environmental conservation, education, territorial dispute, food security, and disaster risk management.

This is first of the two senatorial forums that will be held at UPLB, under the UP sa Halalan 2016 project. The second senatorial forum will be held on April 5. Prior to these, presidential candidates Jejomar Binay and Rodrigo Duterte had visited UPLB on separate events to discuss transparency and governance. [P]

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