Updated Mar 31, 2019, 10:19:26 PM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — Four of the 62 candidates came to CNN Philippines’ last Senatorial Forum and bared their plans should they clinch a seat in the May polls.
Political reforms are top of the minds of community organizer Bernard Austria and lawyer Joan Sheelah Nalliw.
Austria vowed to push for changes in the political party system, while Naliw promised to work to adopt the proposed draft federal constitution of President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee.
“Walang loyalty sa party, kaya walang malinaw na programa para sa taongbayan, walang malinaw na prinsipyo kung anong gagawin. Kaya nangyayari sa atin, nagkekengkuyan tayo … ‘Yung iba pwedeng sumayaw, ‘yung iba gumagastos ng ₱400 billion sa pangangampanya,” Austria said Sunday.
[Translation: There is no loyalty to the party, so there are no clear programs for the people, their principles are unclear on what they should do. So what’s happening with us is that we make fools of ourselves … Others can dance, while others spend P400 billion on their campaign.]
Meanwhile, Naliw said, “We really need a system change here. Kasi kung gusto natin ng pagbabago, dapat overhaul na siya. Hindi lang baguhin ‘yung piecemeal legislation kasi sistema na ang problema.”
[Translation: We really need a system change here. If we want change, we need an overhaul. We can’t change things through piecemeal legislation because the system itself is the problem.]
But Austria said it is not the Constitution that has a problem, but the political party system, which he said can be fixed by letting them receive funding from the government.
Aside from overhauling the Constitution, Naliw also vowed to push for the Freedom of Information bill, which has languished in several Congresses.
Labor lawyer Sonny Matula and doctor Willie Ong, meanwhile, will be prioritizing issues they are most familiar with.
Matula said he will push for an end to contractualization, a national minimum wage, social security enhancement and the protection of workers’ right to organize unions.
Ong said he will be using his oversight function as a senator on the Universal Health Care law, which he views to be insufficient to solve the country’s health woes.
Drug war, China
The Senate bets took a slightly different stance from the administration on the drug war and the country’s deals with China.
While Naliw wants the government’s drug war to continue, she also said the government should review its approach. Ong is also against stopping the drug war, but reminded the administration that the drug problem is not just a criminal problem, but also a health concern.
Austria said drug addicts are victims and should not be killed. He said the government should protect their rights and dignity.
For his part, Matula wants to create a “high-level commission” which would investigate the killings related to the drug war and urged the government to look into its drug campaign.
Meanwhile, Austria, Matula and Ong all said that the government should be cautious in its dealings with China, amid concerns of the Philippines falling into a debt trap.
Solving water woes
Most of the four Senate bets at the forum said consumers should be saving water in response to the dwindling water supply.
“Tayo din mismong mga tao may responsibility sa pag-conserve ng tubig na ito. Isipin po natin, hindi lang po tayo ang nakikinabang dito, kundi ang buong sambayanan,” Naliw said.
[Translation: We, ourselves, have the responsibility to conserve water. Think about it, we are not the only ones who are benefitting for his, but all other people.]
Ong and Austria said the government should invest in technology to save more water in irrigation.
“Baka dati ‘yung technology masiyadong maraming tubig na gagastos, baka may crops na konting tubig lang ang kailangan,” Ong said.
[Translation: Maybe old technology uses too much water, maybe there are crops that would need less water.]
Austria also said water utilities should be brought back under the control of the government because private water concessionaires have failed to deliver services.
Austria, Naliw and Ong said traffic congestion in Metro Manila can be eased if national government offices are transferred to nearby provinces.
“Kaya nagkakatrapik tayo dito sa Metro Manila kasi nandito ‘yung development, nandito ‘yung focus,” Austria said.
[Translation: The reason why Metro Manila is so congested is because development is focused here.]
Ong also said cities should be made walkable.
“Dapat maganda ‘yung pwede mong lakarin, covered ang walkway, mayroong upuan para hindi na lahat sasakay,” he said.
[Translation: The walkway should be good and covered, there should be somewhere to sit on so that not all would have to ride a vehicle.]