Asian Dragon Magazine gave the five presidential candidates 20 questions, sounding them out on hot button issues such as investments, a business-friendly environment, poverty, climate change, education, the South China Sea and Muslim Mindanao, food security, and state corruption. Readers should get a good idea of the candidates’ priorities and direction. It’s you who would have to discern whether the questions were really answered by the candidates themselves, or by their spin doctors. Sit down with a pad paper, tablet, or computer, note down the pros and cons of each of the five candidates, and ask yourself: Who am I prepared to see at the helm? Who will do right by the country?
What are your top three priority issues for the nation?
One, remove income tax of those earning P30,000 and below. Will it create a dent in the government budget itself? It cannot. The government is guilty of underspending. We have trillions of pesos in savings; this government wanted to be known as a government with a lot of savings, but this is not the job of government. My administration will crack down on smuggling and corruption to ensure that the tax reform will not affect government budget.
Second, we will replicate nationwide the social services we have achieved in Makati. Allot P65 billion to provide free books, school supplies, and uniforms to millions of students. Provide work, give free medicines to all. When I came to Makati, it was already bankrupt, P200 million in debt. When I left Makati, we had P11 billion.
Third, expand the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to include senior citizens ages 60-64. The limitation of the program is, it does not provide healthcare nor does it benefit senior citizens.
As I declared in the past, my top three priorities are education, health, and agriculture.
1) Infrastructure development:
a. Road networks for agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism
b. Agricultural facilities, including irrigation, mechanization of production, post-harvest and storage facilities
c. Fast and reliable mass transport system, including rail, rapid bus transport, and other alternative forms of land transportation
d. Air and sea transport infrastructure
e. Information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure for fast and reliable Internet connectivity for education, business, and communication
f. Power generation plants and facilities, including renewable energy
g. Flood management infrastructure
2) Peace and security
a. Improved crime prevention by upgrading strategies, equipment, and capabilities of law enforcement authorities
b. Independent foreign policy that adheres to the: i) preservation and enhancement of national security, ii) promotion and attainment of economic security, and iii) protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas
c. Engagement with all parties—the MNLF, the MILF, the IPs, the Christians—in Mindanao towards a lasting peace. We commit to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and to a constitutional Bangsamoro Law.
d. Resumption of peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF and full implementation of existing agreements
3) Accessible and efficient social services for all Filipinos
a. Accessible education and health centers
b. Increased coverage for housing, education, health insurance, and pensions
c. Direct assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable sectors
d. Immediate relief and recovery support to victims of natural disasters
Our goal is to provide every Filipino with jobs, security, and hope so that they are equipped with all the tools to seize opportunities for success. As such, our priorities consist of job creation, social protection and defense, and quality education. These are necessary elements for a decent life.
The real problem of the Philippines as a developing state is not poverty, but graft and corruption. The country is not corrupt because it is poor; on the contrary, the country is poor because it is corrupt. My administration will face corruption head on.
We will seek to improve the economy by investing heavily on infrastructure development, boosting the manufacturing sector, and modernizing agriculture.
My government will address poverty and hunger by investing in people. We need to educate them, take care of their health, and feed them so they will become productive members of a growing work force.
Read the profiles of the five presidentiables and the full Q&A with them inside Asian Dragon Magazine’s April-May 2016 issue, available in all leading bookstores and convenience stores nationwide. You can also purchase the issue from the Asian Dragon Magazine App, free to download on Google Play Store, iTunes, and Amazon. For orders and other inquiries, contact tel. nos. 361-7491 loc. 811, 845, 846.
Asian Dragon Election issue April-May 2016 (Cover art by Dessa Reyes)