First Mega Cebu election forum kicks off with discussion on federalism, war on drugs, same-sex marriage

By Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo |March 12,2019 - 07:37 AM

The Mega Cebu candidates forum officially opened on Monday. /Cris Evert Ruffolo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — An urban poor leader, a farmer/broadcaster, a military man, and a federalism advocate, who are running for Senate seats in the May 13 elections, faced the Cebuano crowd on Monday, March 11, for the first edition of “Klarohay Ta! Mega Cebu Candidates Forum” held at the Fr. Albert Van Gansewinkel Hall of the University of San Carlos Downtown Campus.

Gary Alejano of Otso Diretso along with Richard Alfajora, Evangeline Abejo, and Conrado Generoso of the Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi (Katipunan) laid out their platforms of service and expressed their views on pressing societal issues.

Among the issues discussed were same-sex marriage, war on drugs, legalizing marijuana, lowering the age of criminal liability, federalism, and honesty of government officials.

Alejano and Alfajora said they are not in favor of same-sex marriage while Abejo was undecided, saying her decision will depend on the situation. Generoso voted for it saying that if the government acknowledges the marriage of people of different religions, it also needs to see same-sex marriage as a valid union.

All candidates noted the importance of parenting and close family ties in raising responsible and law-abiding children.

Federalism

Katipunan candidates emphasized the importance of having a federal form of government to ensure development in the countryside.

Generoso, who wrote in his resume that he was the assistant of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno at the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution and a former information officer of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), said federalism will decentralize power from “imperial Manila” and will lead improvement in the quality of lives of the people in the provinces.

He emphasized that the Katipunan party is advocating for the adoption of the Puno Draft Constitution.

“Federalism will provide us the tool with which we can formulate better solutions to the problems that we face,” he said.

However, Alejano said the Philippines is not ready for this form of government since it is weak in implementing laws.

Narco list

Alejano, a Magdalo Partylist representative, said he is in favor of setting up a commission to study those who were killed in relation to the war on drugs.

“I oppose the releasing of narco list without validation because it can be a blackmail tool for anybody (in the narco list) to tow the line. Marami nang mga bagay na binalewala ng administrasyon ngayon. We need to stand and speak up because the purpose of war on drugs is to sow fear and control you,” he said.

Asked to correct the misconception against him, Alejano said criticizing the government is a means of strengthening the country’s democracy.

He also defended Senator Antonio Trillanes IV against detractors.

Trillanes and Alejano were two of more than 300 soldiers who participated in the so-called Oakwood Mutiny on July 27, 2003. The soldiers protested on the alleged corruption in the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Sabi nila matulad ako kay Senator Trillanes pag na-upo. Wala namang ginagawa si Senator Trillanes na walang basbas ng Magdalo Executive Committee… He does his homework,” he said.

Abejo, Alfajora

A high-energy Abejo elicited claps and cheers from the audience for the way she responded to questions.

Abejo, who serves as Visayas vice chairperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission-National Urban Poor Sector Council,  was also candid in revealing that she was late for the forum because she had to fulfill obligations for a side job to earn money.

Her policy focus and platforms include strengthening urban poor policies through the process of regionalization, food security financial literacy, federalism, and participatory governance.

Meanwhile, Alfajora, a native of Barili, Cebu introduced his policy focus on the “deregulation of marriage” that “keeps the government out of the marriage.”

He said this move will equalize and empower religion in a multi-cultural society like the Philippines.

Alfajora also listed the integration of barangay tanods (village watchmen) in the Philippine National Police, franchising of motorcycle and public utility vehicles, and the creation of multi-level marketing business network commission.

Context

Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph, executive committee chairman of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), said the forum was organized for the public to hear what candidates have to say to achieve the goals for a liveable Cebu.

MCDCB is a body mandated to formulate development plans for the Metro Cebu area and coordinate their implementation. It is composed of businessmen, civil society organizations, local government officials and government agencies.

Klarohay Ta! is a series of national and local candidates’ forum, which will run from March 11 to April 29, 2019. The forum is non-partisan and multi-sectoral with a live audience, who can ask questions to the candidates.

It is organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., Commission on Elections, University of San Carlos, Central Visayas Network of NGOs, myTV and 888 News Forum./dcb

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