The second batch of the third and final session of the Harapan 2019 Senatorial Town Hall Debates was held on the evening of March 3rd, Sunday, wrapping up ABS-CBN’s coverage of allowing senatorial candidates to face the public and win their votes. You can find our summary of the session’s first batch here.
The final batch of Harapan 2019 senatorial candidates included the following:
- Atty. Ernesto Arellano (independent)
- Toti Casiño (Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino)
- Labor leader Leody de Guzman (Partido Lakas ng Masa )
- Senator JV Ejercito (Nationalist People’s Coalition)
- Elmer Francisco (Partido Federal ng Pilipinas)
- RJ Javellana (Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino)
- Dado Padilla (Partido Federal ng Pilipinas); and
- Atty. Dan Roleda (United Nationalist Alliance)
We at The Good Life have compiled and summarized the responses of these candidates in the given issues during the last Harapan 2019; some of their stands may convince that they are one to look out for in the May 13 elections.
Vision for the senate and first law implementation
Arellano discovered the need for attention towards the labor force, informal settlers, and other individuals whose needs the senate has yet to address. De Guzman envisions a senate for the common people and to push for job regularization rather than contractualization.
The first priority on Francisco‘s legislative agenda is a national industrialization to bring the prices of goods and transportation. Padilla envisions a nation free of drugs, that under a federal system there will be no criminals, poverty, and insurrection; meanwhile Roleda wants to focus on strengthening Filipino families through proper education, health, livelihood, food, and housing.
Health care for the less fortunate
Vying for re-election, Ejercito put forth the recently passed Universal Healthcare Law (which he authored) in order to give strategic assistance to individuals; Padilla reiterated this at it will benefit the poor, while Arellano stated that enlarging the law’s coverage is a social obligation of the government. Casiño on the other hand brought up the Early Childhood Development Program which gives children proper sustenance and nutrition at an early age.
Francisco suggested doing a proactive approach rather than reactive, citing his experience as a vegan (he doesn’t eat meat, seafood, or dairy) as it is cheaper and healthier. Meanwhile Roleda plans to make a law that instructs barangay health workers to visit house-to-house on a daily basis, and make mandatory for aspiring doctors and nurses to perform rural services in order to gain their licenses.
Arthur Valdez, a tricycle driver who posited the issue of health care to the senatorial candidates, proclaimed that he was not satisfied with their responses, saying “Parang may kulang po. Dapat noon pa po sana ‘yong batas na wala pong gastos sa ospital, ultimo piso, wala po sanang gastos (There’s something missing. Having not to pay for hospital fees should have been put into law already in the past).”
Bringing down crude oil prices
The issue in question heavily affects jeepney drivers who do not bring home enough money because of heavy expenses on crude oil. De Guzman explained that the problem was jeepney fares are regulated while gasoline prices aren’t, thus prompting to review the Oil Deregulation Law and suspend the TRAIN Law because of how it brings up the Encise Tax.
Ejercito, who voted to approve the TRAIN Law, explained that there is still a way to amend it especially in putting a cap on the Encise Tax for fuel. Javellana on the other hand wants to remove the Oil Deregulation Law, the Encise Tax under the TRAIN Law, and the value-added tax (VAT) on petrol, citing the needed return for the oil price stabilization fund.
Casiño suggests that having oil strategic reserves would balance out when to buy and save, and prompted to reinstate the Philippine National Oil Company. Francisco, who comes from a family of jeepney manufacturers, offers the alternative use of biodiesels which are cheaper.
Age discrimination in job application
The issue at hand concerns older individuals (aged 40 and above) who experience age discrimination when looking for new jobs. Ejercito states that such cases should be reported to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for investigation, especially if they fit the qualifications. Francisco reiterated the need for national industrialization to address the lack of job opportunities; Padilla agrees with the former two candidates.
Roleda brings up the notion he has always fought to install a help desk to address any form of discrimination against individuals trying to apply for new jobs. Casiño says that DOLE is insufficient in matching jobs appropriate to any given individual, while De Guzman blames the government for not being able to create permanent and stable jobs.
Service for the youth
Francisco wants to stop the passing of TRAIN 2 which will remove the incentives of eco-zone locators, affecting the potential jobs of five million people. Padilla shares that the government was able to provide free college education for children, and that there is now free training in TESDA.
Roleda wants to push for Equal Access to Free and Quality Education, including stipend and transportation, and that out of school youth be given comprehensive programs to integrate and bring them back into society. Casiño wants to strengthen the youth’s abilities in science, technology, information, communication technology, and arts & culture.
As the only re-electionist in the batch, Ejercito cites that he has always believed that “human resource is our most precious resource”, thus a need to invest in the youth and stimulate the economy through infrastructure development and transport modernization.