By CLAIRE R. MORALES TRUE
DAGUPAN CITY (via PhilAmPress) – All the five presidential bets promised directly or indirectly a better Philippines by the end of their term in 2022 if elected for a six-year term during the May 9 elections as they explained their plans and programs and responses to problems and issues confronting the Filipinos, including the overseas workers, and the country.
The pledge was made during the three-hour third and final debate at the University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City by the candidates — Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago; former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
After the debate, experts and analysts declared Duterte the winner and Poe and Roxas with impressive performance in their eloquence on the issues and their platform of government while Binay improved on his performance in previous debates.
For University of the Philippines Vice President Dr. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera, he believes Senator Poe was the best in terms of consistency in the three presidential debates.
Santiago, a lawyer, former judge and Cabinet member, assured that rule of law, peace, and order will prevail during her term as he promised a strong economy, with a vibrant agricultural sector bolstered by technological support.
Santiago also said there will be an “alternative city near Clark” in Pampanga to free Metro Manila from road and air traffic congestion.
Duterte, the leading candidate based on surveys despite his “blunders,” his curses and bad words, vowed to pursue peace with all sectors to be able to develop Mindanao, pitched for federalism, “correct certain injustices,” end contractualization of employes and create a department to help the overseas Filipino contract workers, among others.
To bring lasting peace in Mindanao, the government must be able and willing to talk and negotiate with the warring groups in the region. Duterte said adding “We cannot fight forever and we have to talk.”
He said he would also plant a Philippine flag on Philippine islands and reefs being claimed by China and call on China to stop. Earlier, he said he was willing to negotiate with China on the disputed territorial claims.
Poe declared that the West Philippine Sea is not the aquarium of China as she vowed solutions to disputes with China, including possible negotiations.
Poe said she would appoint a secretary whose job is only to address the traffic situation, particularly in Metro Manila which she wants decongested by developing Clark and other areas, even as she vowed to speed up work on ongoing expressway, LRT, MRT and other transport projects.
”I will appoint a secretary as ‘traffic terminator.’ His only function is to monitor every project that should be finished immediately, like the right-of-way,” Poe said
For the long-term solution, Poe said a subway system can also help in solving traffic congestion. ”Alam mo, posibleng magkaroon ng subway system para mas mabilis ang biyahe. Kung sabi nila binabaha rito, pero ‘yung subway sa ibang bansa, sa ilalim ng karagatan dumadaan, kaya pwede dito,” Poe said.
She said the Philippine National Railways (PNR) should be extended to Dagupan City and the line to Bicol should be revived. She also believes that Cebu and Mindanao, particularly in Cagayan de Oro City, should have their own Metro Rail Transit.
Binay said he will address the issues on housing, healthcare, education, and job security and promised to build an “ospital na de kalidad” and good public schools with computers.
He said the government would be more responsive, saying “wala nang kapalpakan, wala nang analysis paralysis.”
Binay said he offered concrete solutions to the people’s needs during the presidential debate in Dagupan City.
“Last night, seven very real people asked us – the candidates for president – how we can solve their very real problems. And our responses have shown that my opponents are really out of touch with our people,” Binay said.
“To the fisherman who was being driven away by Chinese soldiers from his fishing grounds in West Philippine Sea, one candidate says she will give him a radio. To the man whose father died of illness because the health center in his barangay is always closed, another candidate says, ‘But we already paid out P75 Billion in Philhealth benefits. (In short telling the man, Aba binigyan na kita ng pera, a.)’ To the little girl whose parents could not afford to buy her school supplies, another candidate says he will kill drug pushers,” he added.
Roxas said the country would be “maunlad at disente” as he vowed to pursue the Matuwid na Daan program of President Aquino. “Isang bansa na puno ng pagkakataon,” he added.
“Sampung milyong trabaho ang malilikha sa anim na taon n gating termino. Itong mga trabaho sa pagawaan, pabrika, call centers, sa turismo, construction, sa small-and-micro enterprises—lahat ito ay uusbong dahil magiging malago an gating ekonomiya,” he said.
Roxas tackled issues on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) territorial dispute, contractualization and job security, traffic and issues plaguing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
On the WPS issue, Roxas said that he would simultaneously address the personal problems being faced by affected fisherfolk while addressing the issue in the diplomatic front.
“We would enrol all affected fishermen into the government’s cash for work program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Philhealth and ensure that their children would all have fee education. This is to ensure that they would not be helpless while the issue has not been resolved,” he said.
At the same time, the administration bet said that his government would pursue the arbitration case the Philippines had filed in the United Nations (UN) as the country cannot deal with powerful China alone.
The Vice President said he has been in public service for 30 years and has fought for the poor, defended human rights and has always upheld the value of human life.
“In my 30 years in public service, I have always been on the side of the poor. I will always value the dignity of women, children and the marginalized. I continue to fight for human rights and will always uphold the value of life,” he said.