#TheFilipinoVotes: Seven hopefuls bare plans if they win Senate seats in 2019 polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — Seven senatorial hopefuls bared plans on how they would solve the Philippines' pressing problems should they win a seat in the 2019 midterm elections.

CNN Philippines' second senatorial forum was joined by former Interior Secretary Raffy Alunan, former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and former Quezon 4th District Representative Erin Tañada.

Here is what went down at #TheFilipinoVotes: Senatorial Forum Part 2:

Key legislations

The hopefuls also identified priority bills they would file should they bag a Senate seat.

Ex-Interior Secretary Alunan wants to reintegrate ethics and values formation in the education system.

"We've lost it, and that's why we have to recover it in our institutions and by making sure that our families instill the proper values in our people," he said.

Colmenares, a Left-leaning activist, said he will file a law repealing provisions on the value-added tax in electricity, water, and oil charges – and a law against contractualization.

The former Bayan Muna Representative will also push for additional Social Security System (SSS) pension and a minimum national wage of P750.

Gutoc said she will push for "peace education."

"Peace education guarantees against bullying,  peace education guarantees a population not sleeping against rape jokes by some of our elite, peace education reminds us of decency and respect," she said.

Hilbay said he aims to widen the scope of the current conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Roque promised to push for the full implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law, which he previously filed in the House of Representatives.

"Importante po gamitin ang oversight function ng Senado para masiguro na ang korapsyon ay hindi maging hadlang na magkaroon ng libreng pagamot at magamot ang lahat," he said.

[Translation: It's important to use the Senate's oversight function to ensure that corruption would not stop the country to provide free medicine so that everyone can be treated.]

The former Duterte spokesperson also wants to file a "Zero-Hunger bill" to end hunger in the Philippines in 10 years.

Roxas, a former Trade Secretary, eyes repealing provisions on the additional excise taxes for petroleum products under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) and the second tax reform package.

"'Pag nagmahal ang transportasyon, nagmamahal ang lahat ng pangunahing bilihin," he said.

[Translation: If translation becomes expensive, everything else follows.]

Roxas vowed to also oppose plans to remove incentives from foreign investors, and address the country's internet access.

Tañada, the son of former Senator Wigberto Tañada, said he will look into wage meeting rises prices.

"Makatarungan pa ba ang ginagamit na regional wage boards sa pagtakda ng sweldo dito sa ating bansa?" he said.

The former solon claimed solving the regional wage problem may also address the issues on road congestions in Metro Manila.

Ex-DILG chiefs on drug war

Two former Interior Secretaries also revealed their stances on handling the administration's drug war – as more than 5,000 have been killed in various anti-drug operations and multibillion-peso shipments of methampetamine hydrochloride have easily entered the country.

Roxas, who was Interior chief under former President Benigno Aquino III, said the problem should be dealt with  from the demand side – saying that parents have to guide their children better.

For those addicted to illegal drugs, Roxas said the Philippines needs rehabilitation centers, doctors and experts to solve their addiction.

On law enforcement, Roxas said he will push for intelligence funds to look for big-time drug lords. He slammed the current administration as only poor drug peddlers have been arrested.

"Lahat ng mga naaresto nakatsinelas, lahat ng mga naaresto 'yung mga mahihirap…lahat ng mga naaaresto ay mga low-level criminals. Saan 'yung malalaki?"

[Translation: Those who have been arrested are in slippers, all those arrested are poor, low-level criminals. Where are the big ones?]

Meanwhile, former Secretary Alunan likened the country's illegal drug situation to 'a raging forest fire.'

"Marami pang scalawags sa four pillars of the criminal justice system: police, prosecutor, judges, jails. Anybody can free themselves from the clutches of justice and the law," Alunan said.

Reforms in the Human Security Act and the Revised Penal Code should be implemented, he added.

Alunan was Interior chief during the term of former President Fidel Ramos.

Crowd-stirring answers to Yes, No questions

Some of the senatorial aspirants answers to the Yes/No questions stirred cheers and jeers from the audience.

When asked if Congress should compel the President to make his medical records public, only Alunan and Roque answered 'No."

Roque and Alunan were also the only ones to answer "No" when the aspirants were asked if Philippine media is under threat in this country.

All of the candidates were in favor of legalizing divorce on grounds of abuse or irreconciliable differences, and the legalization of medical marijuana for ailments such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and severe pain.

It was only Colmenares who said the Bangsamoro Organic Law will not help establish long-lasting peace and uplift the lives of Filipinos in Mindanao.