Quality education for students, more salaries and benefits for teachers, aid for small and medium enterprises, more livelihood opportunities for farmers, and public safety from illegal drugs, theft and corruption, pandemics, and natural disasters.
These are the main issues the tandem of Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III will focus on once they are voted in as President and Vice President, respectively, after the May 9 elections.
In an interview with journalists from across the Bicol Region on Saturday, the Lacson-Sotto pair also answered several national issues and revealed their plans to move the country forward once they get the people’s mandate.
“While ‘yung iba ‘yon ang pinapangako, ang sa amin sa track record naming dalawa, ginagawa na namin [While others are still promising these, if you look at both of our track records, we have already been doing these things],” Lacson said when asked how he would live up to his campaign promises.
He stressed that it has been his advocacy as a three-term senator to give more allowances to teachers and add more funding to the last-mile program of the Department of Education to provide better learning to Filipinos in remote areas.
As President, Lacson said he would strengthen these programs and earmark a budget for free tuition fees under his ‘Edukasyon Plus’ program. This includes a P5,000 monthly allowance and a government internship program for students starting at the senior high school level.
The longtime public servant also vowed to implement “future-proof” and timely strategies to help farmers and SME owners alike recover from the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dapat may fiscal stimulus, ano. [Sa] agrikultura, napakaganda ng programa namin na mag-intervene ang gobyerno na kung saan ‘yung produce, lalo diyan sa Bicol, ano, marami diyan may agriculture na—agricom sector medyo malaki-laki rin,” according to Lacson.
[There should be a fiscal stimulus. For agriculture, we already have a wonderful program where the government intervenes (to buy) produce, especially there in Bicol, with its broad agriculture sector.]
He cited the model in Davao del Norte, where the provincial government itself buys the harvests of small farmers, especially helping those who have pawned their lands and properties just to keep their livelihoods running.
The Lacson-Sotto tandem also guarantees to return the stolen and lost opportunities for businessmen and agricultural workers with their tight watch and prosecution of smuggling masterminds, which protects the national interest as well.
This will dovetail with their carefully-planned development projects for each barangay, the proper use of the national budget, especially in responding to emergencies, and in imposing a single standard to make corrupt government officials who stole from the country’s coffers accountable.
These can only be done, Lacson told the Bicolano journalists, if an orderly President will set a good example, one who would trigger a sea change from inside the government.
“Everything starts, everything begins, and everything ends with government. So, kailangan ayusin ang gobyerno, linisin ang gobyerno, nang sa ganoon maayos ang buhay ng ating mga kababayang mga Pilipino [So we need to fix the government, clean the government, so that the lives of our fellow Filipinos are improved],” the former national police chief added.
The Lacson-Sotto tandem is running under an advocacy of “Aayusin ang Gobyerno, Aayusin ang Buhay ng Bawat Pilipino at Uubusin ang Magnanakaw” (Fix the Government, Fix the Lives of Every Filipino, and Get Rid of Thieves).