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Monday, June 17, 2024

7 of 9 VP bets debate in CNN forum

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Seven of the nine candidates have joined Saturday’s first major live and face-to-face May 2022 elections Vice Presidential Debate.

The participants — Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, former Akbayan Party-list representative Walden Bello, cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong, economist Manny Lopez, lawyer Carlos Serapio, and pro-life advocate Rizalito David — laid out their plans and programs during the forum held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and hosted by CNN Philippines.

Vice presidential frontrunner Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza skipped the event for personal reasons.

The first question raised was what position in the government he prefers if elected vice president.

Bello answered first and says he prefer as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, followed by David who wants the creation of a new agency he described as Commission on Moral and Cultural Restoration, then Lopez who prefers as secretary of the Trade Industry, while Ong says he can be assigned in the Department of Health where he can manage the distribution of pandemic relief goods. Serapio, on the other hand, said it will depend on the next president but he personally prefer the DFA portfolio.

Sotto said he wishes to lead the Department of Interior and Local Government if elected while Pangilinan wishes to be appointed in an agency that manages agriculture or fisheries.

Among the topics raised in the forum include the issues on the COVID-19 pandemic and what would be his administration plan if there will be another pandemic; the case of Pharmally and the President Duterte’s alleged betrayal of public trust; Micro Small and Medium Enterprises; the International Criminal Court, West Philippine Sea and maritime dispute; the oil supply implication regarding the tension between Ukraine and Russia; graft and corruption; political dynasty; the Marcos and Robredo presidency; taxation; education; the criminal justice system, and what they will do if assumed the presidency in case of emergency.

Sotto, running under of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and in tandem with fellow senator Panfilo Lacson, mentioned specifically that he will go after individuals involved in drug trafficking and fight graft and corruption.

If he wins, Pangilinan said he will prioritize helping the poor to improve their lives, push a program for food security, and allot P100 billion fund to help small businesses hardly affected by the pandemic. He said he and Robredo are pushing a program to give one gadget per
student.

On the maritime dispute issue, Panglinan said he will push to resume the presence of Navy and Coast Guard personnel in the disputed area.

Serapio, the vice presidential of Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi and running mate of presidential candidate Faisal Mangondato, said the constitution itself will provide that political dynasty shall not be definitely tolerated. He added there is incompatibility between objective of ending political dynasties in the country and the operating system.

Serapio said the present government structure has reached its point of incompetence. He wants the old system to be remove and replaced with a new one.

At the forum, Bello, running mate of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman, accused Sotto and Pangilinan of aiding President Duterte regarding the administration’s legislative agenda, especially during the pandemic, which he said, anti-poor and anti-small business policies that favors only foreigners.

Sotto said the legislations he pushed were all for the benefit of the people while Pangilinan said they did what was necessary to balance the current situation caused by the health crisis.

Ong, who is running mate of Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, promised to continue Moreno’s ‘Bilis Kilos’ program in case he has to assume the presidency.

Ong and Sotto favored to modernize the tax payment system by using the computer technology to get rid of corruption.

David, who forms a partnership with Democratic Party of the Philippines presidential candidate Jose Montemayor, wants to reacquire Petron to control oil price. He added the government must have its own oil firm. He was seconded by Bello.

Bello said he is in favor of full cooperation, and make sure there will be coordination between the justice system and  ICC. He added he will push a program to impose tax on wealthy people. “We propose to tax the wealth, 250 billionaires 1 to 3 percent in their income.”

Sotto on what a Marcos-Sotto administration look like, said “I have not given it a thought.”

Sotto also brushed the idea floated by Bello that he is a friend of President Duterte, saying as long as he is in the Senate, he is an independent. He also rejected Bello’s war on drugs figures.

He also said from 2016 up to Oct. 2021, there were 258,000 anti-drug operations and 378,000 arrests while there were only 6,021 that died. “If there EJKs, dapat 378,000 ang patay.”

Bello again questions Sotto for ‘not defending’ colleague detained Senator Leila de Lima. Sotto responds Why don’t you ask Sen. De Lima herself? I did not allow her to be arrested in the Senate.”

Bello also asked Sotto why he signed the anti-terror, the foreign investment amendment act, and why he never dissented from any major legislative push by the President.

Bello also tells the public not to vote for Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte to end political dynasty.

“If you really want to oppose dynasties, here are the two dynasties, the south and the north will get together to eat up the Philippines. The Marcos dynasty and the Duterte dynasty, we’re seeing how they represent really the greatest evil of the political system that we have,” he said.

Lopez said while there’s a clamor to rejoin the ICC, it has to be timely and look at the biggest issue hounding the Duterte administration in a balanced manner. He also supports the war on drugs. “I see the implications of our nation becoming a narco-state. On the same premise, I believe human rights should be protected.”

Lopez also said the president took the campaign loose proposition by the horn to bring in foreign interference based on their values and perceptions.

David, for his part, said he is ready to lead the nation and he will push for a special session to give power to suspend excise taxes, decrease value added tax, reacquire Petron. “We are destined to greatness.“

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