Tuesday, January 5, 2010

As I See It: Look at bets’ track records—Dick and Bayani

By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:28:00 01/05/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

Original Story: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100105-245720/Look-at-bets-track-recordsDick-and-Bayani

THE PRESIDENTIAL-VICE PRESIDENTIAL “performance team” of Sen. Richard Gordon and former MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando were the guests at the Kapihan sa Manila for the first time last Monday, and the two told the people to vote according to the performance records of the candidates, not on their pedigree or survey ratings. In a pointed reference to rival presidential standard-bearers, Sen. Noynoy Aquino of the Liberal Party and former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi, Gordon asked: “Why do we allow hacenderos to rule our country always?” Aquino, who is leading in the surveys, and Teodoro, who is kulelat, are both members of the Cojuangco clan who owns Hacienda Luisita.

Hacenderos have been the bane of our country and the oppressors of the poor since the Spanish times, Gordon said. That is why the Land Reform Law and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law were passed by Congress to emancipate the Filipino farmer, but until now the hacenderos still want to rule the country, he said.

They have not even been able to run Hacienda Luisita properly, how can they run the whole Philippines with its numerous problems? Gordon asked. The hacienda is at present beset with labor problems. It was exempted from distribution to the tenants as mandated by CARP during the term of President Corazon Aquino, Noynoy’s mother and Gibo’s aunt.

What Bayani and I are offering the people is proven track records, Gordon said. “Performance, not pedigree.” Look at my performance as mayor of Olongapo, as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), as secretary of tourism, and as senator, Gordon said. Look at the performance of Bayani as mayor of Marikina and as chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Compare them to the performances of Noynoy and Gibo as congressmen for several terms, and recently as senator and defense secretary, respectively. What have they done? What significant bills have they authored?

Noynoy is banking on the assassination of his father and the recent death of his mother, does that qualify him as a good president? Gordon asked. My father (Olongapo Mayor James Gordon) was also assassinated and my mother also died while mayor, but I never used them to boost my candidacy. But there is no mention of the role Noynoy’s grandfather, Benigno Aquino Sr., played during the Japanese Occupation. (Aquino Sr. was president of the Kalibapi, the pro-Japanese and the only political party allowed in the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation.)

The best thing to happen to Noynoy was that both of his parents died early, commented somebody from the audience. Both parents of Gordon also died early, the father by assassination just like Ninoy, commented another, but he never used that to attract votes.

But what are they going to do if they are elected? Gordon and Fernando were asked. What reforms are they going to push?

Obviously, there are many reforms needed, said Gordon, but his priorities would be agriculture, education and health. We must assure that the people don’t go hungry. They cannot work if they are hungry. They cannot work either if they are sickly. And they need to be educated so they know what to do. People justify corruption if their families are hungry.

Fernando, an engineer, said he wants to guide the Philippines into the technological age. A lot of good things can be achieved now with technology, he said.

What Cabinet position would he want if elected?

“I want to head this special body to guide the nation into the technological age,” Fernando replied.

What department would he assign to his vice president? Gordon was asked.

“Obviously, the Department of Public Works,” Gordon answered without hesitation. “At least a third to half of funds appropriated for public works projects are lost to inefficiency and corruption,” he said. “Fernando, being an engineer who knows the ropes, should be able to stop that.”

“Or he can be secretary of transportation,” Gordon added. “Products are expensive because of transportation costs. Improve transportation and costs will go down. Plenty of money is lost due to the traffic jams. All of that lost money are added to the costs of the food we eat.”

“The biggest mistake we have committed was to neglect the railroad and to depend on cargo trucks to ship produce from the producers to the consumers,” Gordon continued. “Costly transportation is also the reason we have a serious squatting problem in the urban areas. Workers want to live close to their places of work to save on time and fares. But they don’t have to be squatters in urban areas if they can commute to their homes in the provinces through fast trains. Workers in Tokyo, Japan, for example, commute everyday to their homes as far away as the equivalent of Manila to Tarlac or Pangasinan and La Union because of the Bullet Train.”

Gordon and Fernando continued: “And that’s the reason for the traffic congestion in Metro Manila. Cargo trucks from the northern provinces going south of Manila have to pass through Metro Manila, even when they have nothing to do there, because there is no other way, and thus contribute to the traffic jams. With the railroad, cargo doesn’t have to pass through downtown Metro Manila.”

Another cause of traffic jams is that huge truck-trailers carrying container vans from the piers to their final destinations compete with downtown traffic. There used to be railroad tracks from the piers to the Tutuban terminal and, from there, to points north and south of Manila. Why not rehabilitate these tracks and transport cargo from the piers through the railroad so cargo trucks don’t have to add to the traffic congestion?

Gordon said one of his priorities would be to rehabilitate, modernize, and expand the railroad.

Original Story: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100105-245720/Look-at-bets-track-recordsDick-and-Bayani

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