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Nine senatorial hopefuls face-off in Harapan 2019

Updated

By Leslie Ann Aquino

To help voters get to know the 63 senatorial candidates in the May midterm elections, ABS CBN organized a series of senatorial town hall debate called “Harapan 2019” which started Sunday.

PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO/ MANILA BULLETIN

PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO/ MANILA BULLETIN

The senatorial debate featured nine candidates: re-electionist Bam Aquino, former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, lawyer Larry Gadon, Samira Gutoc, Doc Willie Ong, former broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad, and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino.

Re-electionist senator Koko Pimentel was also invited but failed to attend the event due to an important matter.

The candidates declared their positions or stand on different issues such as health service and minimum age of criminal responsibility.

On health service in the country here are their different views and suggestions:

Chong is pushing for a strategic health initiative especially in far flung areas.

“Noong ako’y Congressman pa lamang, nag-institute po ako ng strategic health initiative. Pumili po ako ng mobile clinic at nilagyan ko po ng 32 doctors, dentists and nurses. So I would like to institute that system nationwide for far-flung barangays para mayroon pong immediate intervention po para sa ating mga liblib na lugar,” he said.

Ong said there should be scholars trained that will come from Mindanao.

“Dapat magti-train tayo ng mga scholars na galing doon mismo sa Mindanao, sa lugar nila. Bibigyan natin ng salary. Libre ‘yung education nila para pagbalik nila maging doktor sila, magsisilbi sila doon at ligtas sila,” he said.

Gutoc said doctors to the barrios should be institutionalized.

“Importante po Doctors to the Barrios should be institutionalized, doctors for barrios should be given subsidy, barangay health workers and programming by the doctors led by doctors themselves should be a priority by the LGU, if not, the national DOH,” she said.

Gadon cited the lack of information on health as something that should also be addressed.

“Hindi naman kailangan lahat ng lugar ay mayrong doktor eh, pwede ka namang mag-hire diyan ng mga nurses na pwedeng magsaksak ng mga vaccines, noh?
Ang problema ganito, kulang sa information campaign…Kaya tinatamaan ng sakit, hindi kumpleto ang vaccine,” he said.

Diokno said “medical access” is something that everyone should know.

“Education is also needed kasi ‘yung isyu kasi ng medical access ay kinakailangan alam ng lahat,” he said.

Manicad said health should be prioritized by the government.

“Pagkain, kalusugan, dapat po maging prioridad ng pamahalaan. Dapat po buhusan ng pondo ng pamahalaan ang kalusugan,” he said.

Aquino said scholarships should be given to those who want to become doctors.

“Ngayon ho libre na po ‘yung kolehiyo sa ating state university and college. ‘Di na po malayo na magdagdag tayo ng mga scholarships para po sa mga potential doctors ho natin….I’m sure 44,000 po na medical students kayang-kaya ho nating tustusan,” he said.

Tolentino believes strengthening the local government will be of help.

“Palakasin natin ‘yung mga pamahalaang lokal. Maraming problemang nasyunal, ang solusyun, lokal,” he said.

Hilbay said the doctor to the barrio program should be in the educational system.

“Kailangan pong ipasok sa educational system ang Doctors to the Barrios program. Kailangan nating magkaroon ng batas kung saan ‘yung ating mga bata gustong maging doctor. Pwede silang magkaroon ng access sa mga special scholarships para kapag sila ay nabigyan ng scholarship, pwede silang maging Doctor to the Barrios,” he said.

Cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong said he strongly feels that the Senate should have lawmakers that would prioritize good and sound health policies that seem to be lacking in the Philippines.

Ong said that despite Filipinos having access to a vast array of health service through PhilHealth, the cost of medical services still hinders them from availing of a remedy for their illnesses.

“Nakikita ko talaga kulang na kulang tayo sa kalusugan dito sa bayan natin..Parang walang silbi ang PhilHealth natin, di mo magamit pang check up—pang in-patient lang (I can really see that our nation lacks in the area of health. PhilHealth seems to be useless, you can’t effectively use it for check-up, you can only avail it if you are in-patient),” Ong pointed out.

Should he win in the upcoming midterm polls, Ong said he would train his sights in making maintenance medicines more affordable or free for the public.

“Kasi sa ibang bansa nagagawa, dito sa atin hindi kaya, (In other countries they can do that, but not here in our country),” he argued.

Ong, who is known for his health tips and advice on social media, had earlier said he hopes to continue the legacy of the late Senator Juan Flavier.

As to the issue on the minimum age of criminal responsibility here are their views:

Gadon: Sang-ayon ako sa pagbaba…Dahil ang mga bata ngayon mas matalino. Alam naman nila kung ano ‘yung mali at tama. Ngayon kung ang problema ay ‘yung pasilidad, eh ‘di ‘yun ang bigyan ng pansin.

Manicad: Trese anyos po ay naniniwala ako na dapat ibaba dahil base po ito sa karanasan…Subalit, hindi po sila dapat isama sa mga hardened criminals. Dapat po ay sapat ang pasilidad para sa kanilang rehabilitasyon.

Chong: I tend to view itong pagbaba ng minimum age of criminal responsibility as a way of removing these children away from the marketplace of crimes. Kasi hindi po natin maipagkakaila na may mga sindikato pong gumagamit ng mga bata. By lowering the age, we actually remove more of these children away from them, from the marketplace of crime.

Hilbay: Ang kulang ay ang aruga ng estado, hindi ang edad kung saan kailangan tratuhing kriminal ang mga bata. ‘Yun ang kulang, ang aruga ng estado.

Aquino: Hindi po ako sang-ayon sa pagbaba ng edad or ‘yung minimum age of criminal responsibility. Alam n’yo po ‘yung mga bata po dapat tulong ang kailangan po nila hindi kulong. Wala pong bata ang nangarap o 12 or 13 years old na nangarap maging drug courier.

Diokno: Hindi po ako papayag na ibaba nila ang age of criminal responsibility. Ang dapat parusahan diyan ang mga sindikato, hindi ‘yung mga bata. Biktima din ang mga bata.

Gutoc: Tutol ako. Tutol ako. Bahay Pag-Asa, hindi buhay parusa.

Ong: kung magkakaroon na ng maraming Bahay Pag-Asa, hindi natin ilalagay sa kulungan, para sa akin, puwede ibaba ng konti, hanggang 13 years old.

Tolentino: Sang-ayon po ako, sang-ayon po akong gawing 12, 13 coming from 15…Pag sila ay na-convict, papasok po sila sa isang reformative justice system…magkakaroon po ng parang Boys Town, magkakaroon po ng isang kulungan na kung saan pagkatapos nila ay makakabalik sila sa lipunan, sa mainstream lipunan na may dignidad ‘din at kikilalanin bilang isang reformed individual. #MatalinongBoto2019

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