Critical questions for the presidential debates

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Extemporaneously and without assistance from consultants and technical staff, the seven serious presidentiables should be able to answer some raging questions on social, economic, and political issues. With competence, expertise and effective communication skills, of course.

They should include post-COVID recovery programs, poverty alleviation, employment generation, disaster preparedness, solution to insurgency and terrorism, national defense, foreign affairs, territorial integrity, crimes and corruption, as well as drugs and human rights. And what about power cost, internet connectivity, climate change and environmental issues? What are their thoughts on infrastructure development in relation to taxation, revenue generation and balancing of the budget? If these people want to lead the country in the next six years, they should put on the table their strategic and tactical program of action replete with timelines and financial plans.

Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Ping Lacson, and even tailender, Ka Leody de Guzman, will surely answer all these questions on these issues with spontaneity and sincerity, and a high level of credibility. But I cannot be sure about Bong Go, Bongbong Marcos, Isko Moreno (bolero), and Pacman. Bong Go and Bongbong may also answer these with a certain level of competence but it is their sincerity and credibility that are hard to discern. BBM is too identified with the highly-tarnished Marcos image. And Bong Go is too closely aligned with the president's many controversial actions and decisions. Pacman is sincere to the point of naivete, but, with due respect, he may find some international issues somewhat very hard nuts to crack.

So let them answer the following questions: First, what are your short-term, medium term, and long term solutions to the challenges of post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery? Give concrete action plans with timetables and budgets and focal agency to execute them. Second, what are your top three priority programs for poverty alleviation and what structural and legislative supports are needed to bring them about? Third, what five most important strategic imperatives should be adopted as a national policy to address the worsening unemployment program, and which should include aligning education and training with needs of the industry, and should also incorporate your policy and programs concerning outward migration of Filipino labor?

Fourth, what should be your priority programs on disaster preparedness as well as readiness for another pandemic? Fifth, what will be your policy and program on solving the decades-old insurgency program, as well as the Bangsamoro autonomy and devolution of national and central functions, personnel, and budgets? Sixth, how do you enhance the readiness of our armed forces for possible external invasion by China in the West Philippine Sea, and what is your view on the current government's attitude relative to our territorial integrity? Seventh, do you have concrete action plans on the perennial problems of crime, corruption, and drugs, as well as the nagging issue of human rights and terrorism?

Number 8 is about the environment in relation to natural disaster readiness. Number 9 is infrastructure development. And Number 10 is taxation and the budget. If these guys want to become the top honcho of this nation, they better have in their heads already a quick, credible, and easy-to-understand solution to all these problems. If not, there is no deadline for withdrawing from the race. They should either put up or shut up.

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