In the next presidential debates, if none of the questions in this article come up in the first ten minutes, switch the channel.
Plainly, if there is no mention of runaway crime and smuggling, dismal disaster readiness, the looming economic slowdown, then even The Cartoon Network would be a better way to pass the time than The Grace, Jojo, Mar, Miriam and Rody Show.
So here are the questions covering the most urgent and hugely troublesome concerns facing the nation (see “What the next president has to deal with” at http://www.manilatimes.net/what-the-next-leader-has-to-deal-with/242959/ and http://www.manilatimes.net/what-the-next-leader-has-to-deal-with-2/243378/ ).
Let’s hope the media ask these questions and the presidentiables answer them in the March 20 and April 24 debates.
1) Crime tripled from 324,083 incidents in 2010 to more than a million a year in 2013 and 2014, with even more estimated last year. If elected president, what specific measures will you undertake to fight this unprecedented explosion in lawlessness, which can only have been perpetrated by organized crime?
(Some officials claim that the trebling of crime is due to new reporting methods. In fact, reforms were instituted back in 2009, counting ten times more crimes than before. Data in 2011 and 2012 seemed to show lower crime, but in 2013, several police chiefs were investigated or suspended for misreporting. Since then, statistics are more accurate.)
2) Based on International Monetary Fund data, the undeclared or undervalued contraband entering the country tripled under President Aquino to $26.6 billion in 2014, boosting lawless groups with guns, drugs and contraband. How will you stop this unprecedented smuggling?
3) In 2011, more than 2,000 cargo containers disappeared in transit between Manila and other ports, mostly Batangas, with no investigation done by the government, not even the Ombudsman. Will you have your chosen Bureau of Customs commissioner investigate this scam — the biggest spate of smuggling in the country ever — and punish the contrabandits and the officials who connived with them?
4) Naval and air assets of the U.S. Seventh Fleet have cruise missiles that can hit China from the Philippines. How will you ensure that American warships, submarines, fighters and bombers rotating in the country do not carry nuclear weapons, which could provoke preemptive attack in a war, even one not involving the Philippines? If Washington sticks ot its policy of never confirming or denying the presence of nukes on its vessels and aircraft, will you still let its forces boost deployment under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement?
5) Since the U.S. has not pledged to defend Philippine territorial claims, unlike its iron-clad guarantee for the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands also claimed by China, how will your administration defend the country’s islets and shoals, and assert its rights under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea? In particular, will you acquire anti-access/area denial arms like anti-ship missiles and submarines, as defense experts have long urged, and which Vietnam is acquiring?
(Cost will be a key issue. Here are some facts: 200 BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missiles, made by India and Russia, can defend the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, at a cost of P35 billion, including support infrastructure and operational training. The funds can come from the Malampaya royalties, since the missiles can defend offshore oil and gas resources — an energy-related expense.)
6) Critics of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the Bangsamoro Basic Law contend that the CAB, its accompanying framework, annexes and addendum, and the BBL contain many unconstitutional provisions, and fail to include key Mindanao sectors. What will you do to address these criticism? Are you willing to renegotiate the CAB, with inputs from broad sectors of Mindanaoans?
7) Aquino never implemented the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act mandate to upgrade the Office of Civil Defense into a billion-peso agency tasked with upgrading both national government and local government units’ DRRM capabilities. Thus, state auditors found no achievements in the OCD’s LGU preparedness programs in the year before Typhoon Yolanda. Will you implement this provision of the 2010 law, as well as the People Protection Fund , which was supposed to relocate communities vulnerable to extreme weather due to climate change?
8) Many development experts, including former Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, have pointed to agriculture and rural development as a long-time area of needed improvement and investment. What will be your top three programs to channel development resources and jumpstart programs for the countryside, where most poor Filipinos live? Please note the key sectors to be prioritized, such as coconut farmers, fisherfolk, and other impoverished groups.
9) What one major project will you undertake for the poorest province in the country? What about the second-poorest, the third-poorest, and so on until the tenth-poorest?
10) Without necessarily giving amounts, who or which are your biggest campaign contributors outside of your family, and your political party? If these generous supporters ask for favors, what will you tell them?
11) The Aquino administration has constantly defended allies and associates tainted by anomalies. Will you investigate and prosecute those officials, including those who support you in the elections and join your ruling coalition, if you are elected?
12) In your first week in office, are you willing to issue an Executive Order to all officials and personnel in national government agencies and corporations under your authority, as well as in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, to speedily provide any information on government actions, policies, programs, and transactions requested by any citizen, subject to restrictions in law and jurisprudence, plus limits publicly declared in writing by those state agencies or companies, approved by the President, and subject to judicial review?
That’s it. Hang on, that’s just 12 questions, not 20.
Well, the remaining eight and many others can be added in the manilatimes.net comments section. Post away.