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Six issues every presidential aspirant must answer

/ 04:00 AM October 26, 2021

Since the filing of COCs, I have yet to hear substantive solutions coming from our presidential aspirants regarding the country’s very serious problems. Maybe they are all holding back and awaiting the final line-up of rivals on Nov. 15.

But this early, people need to know their priority plans and programs, not their political attacks, debates, colors against each other. Plain and simple, we want concrete ideas and doable methodology in solutions. Economy, businesses, jobs and pandemic responses are generic promises that most voters ignore as repetitious. They are more concerned with gut issues in the next six years, when the pandemic is over.

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First, the declining crime index nationwide and protection of every citizen, young and old including foreigners. Admittedly, in the last five years, our people felt safer in communities, homes, streets and daily commute. Where do these presidential aspirants stand against criminality, the shabu problem of the poor, the high-end ecstacy-heroin addiction of the rich? Will the riding-in-tandem criminals-gun for hire, street hoodlums continue? Will the abusive killer cops return together with the political warlords? I’m sure all of us agree that against criminals and wayward men in uniform, an iron fist policy is effective.

Second, the cost of electricity (the highest in Asia) and other utilities including water. Actually, I’m terribly disappointed with President Duterte on this aspect, because he failed to lower our electricity cost even by a centavo in his term. He also failed to build “nuclear power plants” as promised, to jumpstart energy solutions. Honestly, we really need to review this issue of “privatization” of very important government assets. Now, who among the candidates will even mention this?

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Third, the greedy local businessmen who manipulate supply, demand and prices of food products (rice, pork, fish, vegetables, etc). Past administrations, including President Duterte’s, failed to prosecute and jail even one “food hoarder” or “price manipulator”. They buy cheap from the farmers, control the supply and sell at high prices in public markets. They are untouchable since the government repeatedly failed to confront them. Instead, it resorted to flood the market with imported goods to lower the prices, but is actually a weak “band-aid move”. Who among the presidential aspirants can defeat them?

Fourth, free medical and hospitalization for the poor and the working class. Who among the presidential aspirants can do this? There is already the Universal Medical Care Law, but many of its provisions are being ravished by corrupt Philhealth officials in cahoots with powerful medical groups, unscrupulous hospitals and medical practitioners, and siphon off its funds. Who will stop the rising prices and dismantle monopolies on medicines?

Fifth, free college education for one member of every household, in both rural and urban areas. This means ensuring that every family in the county will have at least one “college graduate” in the next six years. The Duterte administration had a good start by removing the “tuition” of 1.2 million students in government colleges and universities. Some LGUs in Metro Manila followed suit and even gave monthly P1,000 allowances for every student. Who among the presidential aspirants can continue this?

And sixth, the “real and continued protection” of all overseas Filipino workers (land-based or sea-based OFWs). During the pandemic, President Duterte brought home more than 1.2 million OFWs (documented and/or undocumented), free transportation with $500 each as livelihood support. In the past five years, this administration battled Saudi Arabian, UAE, Kuwait and even Hongkong employers to ensure good welfare for our OFWS. These policies should continue, but who among the presidential aspirants can do this?

As I have said in a previous column, we have today a “broken political party system” from which our leader-applicants in May 2022 will only have a very short six-year term to answer all our problems. This is why I am posting only the top SIX but doable issues that will measure their real resolve on people’s gut issues.

Their answers on each will serve as my main criteria in choosing the next president of our nation.

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