Four senate bets lay out plans should they win the 2019 polls

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(L-R) Senatorial candidates Richard Alfajora, Ernesto "Lawin" Arellano, Toti Casiño and Glenn Chong

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — Four among the 62 candidates in the May 13 midterm elections bared their plans should the people vote them in the Senate.

Senatorial bets Glenn Chong, Toti Casiño, Lawin Arellano and Richard Alfajora shared their priority legislations and stands on key issues in the country during the CNN Philippines’ Senatorial Forum Sunday.

Here is what they had to say:

Yes to honesty, majority for federalism

Amid recent public speculation of proliferation of lies among senatorial candidates, all Senate bets have maintained that they have been honest in their campaigns. The senatorial candidates also said they would prioritize the environment in their plans given the recent water shortage crisis in Metro Manila.

However, not all were acquiescent with the environment department’s proposal to open deep wells to resolve the issue. Alfajora voiced his dissent on the move, while Arellano, Casino and Chong agreed with the proposal.

Meanwhile, as Congress continues to debate on a shift to a federal form of government, majority of the candidates said they were in favor of the transition. Only Casino was against federalism.

Sovereignty in the ICC withdrawal

The senate bets were divided on the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Arellano and Alfajora were convinced involvement in the ICC did not interfere with the country’s sovereignty, however Chong and Casino disagreed.

Chong argued that the country should operate without submitting to foreign powers. Meanwhile Casino said the withdrawal allows the country to prove its capacity for self-governance. Arellano said if the country’s democracy is clean of anomalies, it should not veer away from international scrutiny.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he will pull the country out from the international court’s jurisdiction following a case filed against him for in relation to his violent anti-drug campaign.

Alfajora said instead of ordering to leave the ICC, the President should make a stand and fight for his case.

READ: Senate bets bare opposing sides on PH exit from ICC

Resource management

Three candidates agreed the capital region’s water woes stemmed from the privatization of water service. Arellano, Casino and Alfajora agreed the government should oversee the management of water resources.

On the other hand, Chong said the root cause of the problem has yet to be determined. However, he urged the government be better in monitoring operations that involve the providing for the people’s basic needs.

Customers of east zone concessionaire Manila Water have suffered from water service interruptions since March 7. The water concessionaire attributed the shortage to the decreasing water levels at the La Mesa reservoir in Quezon City due to the dry spell.

Casino and Alfajora also suggested to look into alternatives sources of energy such as solar and nuclear to address the country’s power supply woes. Chong said the government should also study energy requirements to brace for limitations on power supply.

Electoral reform, federalism among priority legislations

Chong and Alfajora said they would push for reforms in the electoral system through introducing new technologies.

Chong said he would prioritize pushing for a hybrid polling system to ensure transparency and speedy results for elections. He emphasized that using Smartmatic machines would allow for corruption to seep into the system.

“In the case of Smartmatic, we do not know how it is counted. We do not understand how the machine counts it. So dito po papasok ang dayaan [that is how cheating occurs],” Chong explained.

On the other hand, Alfajora proposed a “touch screen, online, hack-free” voting.

Casino, a former information technology consultant for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said he would amend the Automated Election System Law, emphasizing that erring Comelec officials should be strictly held accountable.

Meanwhile, Arellano said he would push for federalism, adding that it would effectively eliminate poverty through providing equal opportunities and resources to the public. Alfajora also mentioned he would push for a federal form of government.