Last Feb. 17, Sunday, ABS-CBN partnered up with Manila Bulletin to host the first of three Harapan 2019 Senatorial Town Hall Debates, in order for the public to learn about several senatorial candidates’ platforms and stands on current issues.
The first session of Harapan 2019 featured the following candidates:
- Re-electionist Bam Aquino (Liberal Party)
- Atty. Glenn Chong (KDP)
- Atty. Chel Diokno (Liberal Party)
- Atty. Larry Gadon (KBL)
- Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc (Liberal Party)
- Former Solicitor General Atty. Florin Hilbay (Aksyon Demokratiko)
- Former GMA reporter Jiggy Manicad (independent)
- Dr. Willie Ong (LC-MD), and;
- Former MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino (PDP-Laban)
While a lot was discussed over two hours, here are some key points brought up that senior citizen voters may find beneficial in selecting which 12 names they will vote in the upcoming May 2019 elections.
Tolentino’s stand on ENDO
ENDO, or short-term employment through contractualization, has been a very hot topic especially in the labor industry as many have called for its termination. Tolentino’s response to what should be done about it is to change the country’s labor code and ensure there is a security of tenure.
He agreed with Gadon’s suggestion that the government should strengthen the industrial sector, and added that he would like senior citizens and retirees (those aged 56 years old and above) to be included once more in the labor force.
Ong’s stand on inflation
The price inflation of commodities and livelihood products posited a problem for those unable to purchase necessary items. Dr. Ong noted that a long-term solution to inflation was to support farmers and the agricultural sector – to give them capital for their crops and irrigation.
As his platform circles around health care improvisation, Ong noted that price inflation also affected medicines, thus making it his goal to have free medical check-ups and lab tests from PhilHealth to offer a safety net for individuals, especially ill overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Gadon on martial law
During the Fast Talk segment of the debate, majority of the questions for Gadon were related to the Marcos family and martial law, as Gadon was proclaimed on his Facebook account that he was a “true blooded Marcos loyalist”.
When asked about whether he thinks there were human rights violations under Marcos’ martial law, he responded saying that more violations occurred under the Aquino administrations (Cory, who came after Marcos, and Noynoy, who is Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor); he even cited examples like the Mendiola Massacre and the SAF 44.
Gadon followed up saying that martial law was needed during that time as to not be conquered by communists. Thus for him, the Marcos family do not need to apologize for any human rights violations because the deaths that occurred then were of NPA rebels.
Marijuana and divorce, yes or no?
Several of the candidates were asked during their Fast Talk segments if they were for or against the legalization of medical marijuana and divorce in the Philippines. Manicad was the sole candidate against divorce as he believes “dapat matibay ang pamilyang Pilipino (the Filipino family must be strong)”.
Gutoc, Hilbay, and Diokno were for divorce, with the former explaining that abusive relationships today called for its implementation. Diokno explained that the law needs to take into account psychological incapacities, especially for troubled spouses.
Gutoc and Hilbay were also for the legalization of medical marijuana, with Gutoc citing having heard cases where it was extremely needed. Chong said he was for it if its effectiveness was proven. Tolentino was the only one against medical marijuana as he said he has not seen any “validated, scientific basis” that it is helpful.
Catch the next two sessions of Harapan 2019 on Feb. 24 and March 3, live on ANC, DZMM Teleradyo, and iWanTV (replay on ABS-CBN).