Last week, our six presidentiables presented programs which they believed could address present-day concerns. Among issues identified by Leody de Guzman, Isko Moreno Domagoso, Ping Lacson, Bongbong Marcos, Manny Pacquiao, and Leny Robredo were the following: (1) Improve efficiency and ease of doing business; (2) Upgrade economic productivity and improve participatory structures; (3) Address deficiencies in education and health sectors;(4) Build resiliency; (5) Develop a proactive and comprehensive COVID-19 response; (6) Revitalize farmers’ and fisherfolk sector; (7) Pursue anti-corruption through massive cleansing of bureaucracy; (8) Pursue multilateralism and alliances in the West Philippine Sea; (9) Protect OFW’s through bilateral agreements; (10) “Build, build, build” focus on infrastructure; (11) Streamline communications and digitalization processes; (12) Promote MSMES; (13) Promote sustainable anti-poverty initiatives; (14) End ENDO and contractualization; (15) Continue anti-drug war but focus on rehabilitation; (16) Strengthen checks and balances; (17) Institute reforms to end armed conflict; revive peace negotiations; (18) Promote socialized housing; (19) Hold social media accountable and combat disinformation; and (20) Ban political dynasties, impose wealth tax (de Guzman).
A major focus was on health and education reforms, push for Universal health care, reform in PhilHealth, building of public hospitals, increase in budgets for health research and salaries of health workers, free hospitalization, indigenous production of local medicines (Lacson, Robredo, Domagoso, Marcos. Pacquiao, de Guzman).
Educational reforms through budgetary increase from three percent to six percent of GDP (Robredo) and 4.3 percent of GDP (Domagoso; and doubling salaries of public school teachers (Pacquiao).
On initiatives to upgrade overall productivity, Robredo would strengthen maritime industries, revive the manufacturing industry and establish a transition framework away from fossil fuels towards use of renewable energy that would create “green jobs” and provide incentives to MSMES to prevent lay off of employees.
Domagoso would impose a moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands, foster a friendly mining policy to attract foreign direct investments, raise farmers’ incomes, lowering costs of agricultural production, establish the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Lacson would intensify funding support for MSMES through comprehensive and targeted fiscal stimulus packages, revitalize the agriculture sector by providing subsidies and end the “importation dependent mentality.”
Pacquiao would eliminate need to import fish by extending interest-free loans to fishermen so they can modernize fishing methods and boost harvest.
Marcos would ask companies to regularize employees; minimize importation of agricultural products, support suspension of rice tariffication.
De Guzman would also end reliance on imported agricultural products and raw materials and modernize agriculture.
On West Philippine Sea, Lacson would pursue joint exploration with other countries on the gas reserves; foster alliances with other claimant nations to stave off China’s expansionist polities. Robredo would also form alliances for enforcing the arbitral ruling, and pursue multilateral talks and exhaust all diplomatic options with China. Pacquiao will never allow China to bully the country but is open to dialogue on joint exploration as long as Philippine sovereign rights are recognized. Marcos would set aside the arbitral ruling and pursue a bilateral deal with China, reject US help in dealing with China on the maritime row. Domagoso would assert the arbitral ruling against China and defend Filipino fisherfolk’s sovereign rights. De Guzman would push for demilitarization of the West Philippine Sea and refuse to be an economic, political, and military battleground of the superpowers, and propose a “shared regional area of commons” among Asian neighbors.
It would be most desirable if the above issues could be further examined in forums organized by a multi-sectoral panel of academics and sectoral representatives.
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