With the Presidential candidates cast more or less complete, the time has come for the questions we should ask each of them that will guide us in determining who is in the position to lead the country over the next six years. It shouldn’t be about Aquino versus Marcos again or looming authoritarianism against freedom and democracy. It should be what affects the average Pinoy and what they intend to do about it.
The following are some of the more important issues under each subject:
Agriculture – food security, agricultural products imports, increasing production to meet demand, reforms in rice production particularly the power of traders to control market prices, the development of an agricultural products export manufacturing industry similar to Thailand and Vietnam.
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Information Technology – what is the status of the national broadband network? Digitization of the bureaucracy, particularly the development of a blockchain backend system to automate transactions and minimize corruption, the development of a robust startup ecosystem encouraging local government units (LGUs) to implement a smart cities strategy, the continuing improvement of connectivity and internet speed.
Foreign Policy – independent, non-aligned or aligned with a major power or grouping? Regional foreign policy; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Quad. The US versus China rivalry. AUKUS (the UK, US and Australia alliance) which might lead to increased tensions due to the eventual deployment of nuclear-capable submarines by Australia.
Energy Security – the final decision on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), nuclear versus renewables versus geothermal. The reform of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to remove cartel-like behavior among producers and distributors. The policy on the Recto Bank service contract and joint-exploration in the South China Sea.
Public Health – implementation of Universal Healthcare. Pandemic response moving forward under the assumption Covid is endemic. The implementation of test, treat and trace. Improvement of frontline health services at the barangay level while the hospital capacity is being built-up. Working conditions and compensation of healthcare workers.
The Economy – economic recovery program. Will the new administration continue with the policies of the Department of Finance (DOF) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)? If not what will change? How to bring back revenue collection to pre-pandemic levels? Debt policy? Borrowing mix? Is 5% of GDP commitment for infrastructure projects still policy? How to transition from consumption-driven to export-driven economy?
Socio-political reform – What about federalism? Charter change (“cha-cha”) to reform the bureaucracy once and for all and minimize losses due to corruption. Switch from bicameral to unicameral parliamentary system. National security – end the insurgency once and for all. Renewed threat of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalists due to the Taliban control of Afghanistan and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Western Mindanao.
Education – the adoption of Education 4.0 for private and public educational institutions. How to help private educational institutions from the pandemic-induced drop in enrolment? Address the corruption in the Department of Education (DepEd) and the fraud in faculty credentials resulting in unqualified promotion to next higher rank.
These are the pertinent issues voters should be concerned about as we are in a crucial crossroad in the country’s history due to the pandemic. Don’t fall for the democracy versus dictatorship narrative of Yellowidiots turned pinkos and the Reds who are pursuing a self-serving agenda while corrupting the country’s youth by encouraging misguided activism. There are huge stakes in the future of the Philippines moving forward in the next six years.
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