The third and last leg of the PiliPinas Debates 2016 had the presidential candidates talking about several topics that are relevant to the Filipino people.
The five candidates – Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief Mar Roxas, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago – gave answers to the issues about the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), healthcare, and the conflict in Mindanao.
The forum was held on April 24, Sunday, at the PHINMA University of Pangasinan, and aired on ABS-CBN.
The moderators were Kapamilya news anchors Karen Davila and Tony Velasquez.
HEALTH CARE. The candidates talked about their platforms concerning health for the poorest sectors of society.
Roxas talked about the current government’s healthcare programs, and he gave PhilHealth as an example.
“Ngayon po, 93 percent na po ang coverage ng PhilHealth, 93 percent of the whole population.
“One hundred percent ng lahat ng mahihirap, sigurado, gobyerno ang magbabayad sa pagpapa-gamot sa kanila,” he said.
He also wants to bring health programs to the poorest corners of the country.
“Importante ito dahil yung mga malalayo sa poblasyon, hindi nga nakakarating at nakakakita ng doktor.
“Sixty percent of our people die without ever having seen a medical professional.
“Kaya importante na dalhin natin ang mga pasilidad, ang mga doktor, ang mga nurse, ang mga BHW, lalung-lalo na sa primary health care doon sa mga pinakamalalayo, pinakaliblib na mga lugar,” he said.
Binay talked about the health programs in Makati City, where he said the poor do not die of sickness. He wants to bring this program nationwide.
“Sa akin, lahat ng barangay, magkakaroon ng barangay health center.
“Lahat ng barangay health center, kumpleto sa gamit.
“At lahat ng barangay health center, magkakaroon ng isang barangay health worker.
“Ang primary health, yung primary health care, e, ang problema sa primary health care, e, lulutasin natin, kasi walang consultation yun.
“Para ikaw ay makagamit ng benefit ng health care, kailangan, e, ikaw ay ma-confine, ha.
“Ngayon, babaguhin natin yun. Pati sa consultation, kasama sa health care.
“At yung mga gamot – gamot, pagpapa-ospital, e, libre. Libre sa mahirap,” he said.
Defensor-Santiago mentioned three things: PhilHealth should be universal, barangay health centers should always have adequate supplies, and a proper information campaign so that the public can avoid being sick.
Duterte boasted about his healthcare programs in Davao City, citing their emergency hotline 911 and access to free transportation service going to the hospital.
If he wins the presidency, Duterte also vowed to "commit the PAGCOR funds" with an estimated cost of P30 billion as a "trust fund," to be used for payment of hospital bills throughout the Philippines.
He also wants all hospitals, both public and private, to reserve beds for the impoverished.
“I will require all hospitals, hospital ng mayaman, hospital ng mahirap, to go back to that facility of reserving 8 beds or 20, depending on the capitalization.
“At... doon sila at huwag silang matakot because there is always money to pay,” he said, referring to the billion-peso funds from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Poe, on the other hand, wants to make sure that provincial hospitals are well-equipped to handle the sick.
“Sa pag-iikot ko sa buong Pilipinas, ito ang nakakaiyak.
“Sinasabi nila importante ang healthcare, pero sa mga ibang ospital, wala man lang tubig ang mga ospital.
“Katulad sa Catbalogan, galing ako doon. Paano mo pagagalingin ang mga pasyente kung hindi mo man lang malinis ang sarili mo?” Poe said.
She also wants to implement a zero-based billing for PhilHealth, and a scholarship program so that each barangay will have one doctor.
“Importante para may doctor, bigyan natin ng scholarship, one town, one doctor. Bawat isang town magkakaroon ng scholar.
“Pag nag-graduate sila na binayaran ng gobyerno, magsilbi sila ng apat na taon tapos magpapalit para hindi magkukulang,” she said.
DUTERTE VS ROXAS. Duterte and Roxas had a word war during the above segment, when Duterte questioned the Liberal candidate's claims about PhilHealth.
This was after Roxas declared that Duterte's plan to put up a "trust fund" for free healthcare services is already in existence under the Aquino administration.
Roxas claimed that PhilHealth has a billion-peso worth of trust fund and has even shouldered P75 billion worth of healthcare services to "6.5 million patients" for 2015 alone.
But Duterte strongly opposed Roxas's claim, insisting that Davao has not benefited from PhilHealth's so-called trust fund when the former applied for the said program two years ago.
“I do not believe you,” Duterte accused Roxas.
“You have made so many promises in your term in the government on. Lahat halos wala kayong naibigay sa tao.
“Puro daldal, puro announcement, puro lahat.”
But Roxas was prepared to fire back.
He dared Duterte to stop his presidential run if Roxas can give proof that PhilHealth has helped people in Davao.
“Kasi ang problema dito, kung hindi pumasok at hindi mo pinaniwalaan ang aktuwal na facts na datos ay babalewalain mo.
“Ito ang mga katotohanan. So, doon tayo sa katotohanan.
“Huwag nating lokohin ang ating mga kababayan na walang nangyayari,” he said.
Duterte did not back down.
“Well, this is a nationwide problem. Pati Davao nilinlang na nila.
“The people of the Philippines are listening. Is this guy telling the truth?”
Roxas shot down Duterte's argumentative style.
He said, “Ito yung style ni Mayor Duterte kaya huwag natin – sa mga kabataan, huwag nating tularan ito. [Crowd cheering]
“Ang importante dito, Mayor Duterte may sasabihin, tapos kung palagan siya or pakitaan siya ng facts, aatras, magsasabi na naman ng iba.
“Ito ang hamon ko, ito ang hamon ko simpleng-simple.
“Sinabi ko ito, sinabi niya ‘Oo.’
“May mapapakita ako actual, naka-video ng mga tao na natulungan ng PhilHealth sa Davao City. Libu-libo po ‘yan.
“Sinabi niya aatras siya.”
Duterte countered, “Alam mo, nakikinig ang buong Pilipinas sa gobyerno araw-araw.
“E, si Secretary Roxas naman hindi nagpapaiwan.
“Ngayon, kung totoo talaga ang sinasabi mo at naniniwala ang Pilipino sa iyo at dapat ikaw ang maging presidente at bakit sa huli ka sa rating?”
But Roxas had the last word. “Simpleng-simple lang po, nakikita ng ating mga kababayan ang asal mo, Mayor Duterte, na hindi ka karapat-dapat.
“Kaya sa Mayo a nuebe, ang mananalo ang matuwid, ang mananalo ang disente, ang mananalo ang karapatdapat si – walang iba kundi si Mar Roxas.”
To which, Duterte unflinchingly remarked, "Susmaryosep!"
OFW ISSUES. The candidates were asked about their plans for OFWs. How will the government help them if they want to come home to the Philippines?
Poe wants to expand PhilHealth coverage to OFWs who are working abroad.
“Magkakaroon tayo ng portable Philhealth Card na puwede ninyong gamitin saan man sa mundo.
“Bakit? Dahil ang binibigay ninyong buwis sa ating bayan o kita sa ating bayan ay $26 billion.
“Sa VAT pa lang nun, P150 billion na, na puwede nating gamitin sa inyo,” she said.
Poe also said that the improving economy should give returning OFWs more opportunities so they don't have to fly back out.
Roxas thinks the solution to OFW problems are “common sense.”
“Halimbawa, sa iba’t ibang bansa, ang ating mga embahada at labor attache sarado pag weekend, kung kailan libre at may oras ang ating mga OFW.
“Papaano sila pupunta at hihingi ng tulong sa ating mga representatives kung sarado ang mga tanggapan?
“Isa iyan sa mga kilos na gagawin natin, bukas ang ating mga tanggapan.
“Para kung kailan nangangailangan ang ating mga OFW, may mapupuntahan sila,” Roxas said.
Binay said there should be a pension plan for OFWs.
There should also be better support from the government, like a 100-million-peso legal assistance for OFWs who face trouble abroad.
Defensor-Santiago agreed that there should be a legal assistance, adding that there should be a hotline so OFWs can call for help anytime.
She also said that the upcoming ASEAN integration should open more opportunities for OFWs across the region.
Lastly, Duterte wants to reduce red tape so OFWs can accomplish their requirements easily.
“I propose to create one government only to take care of the OFW.
“Lahat ng kailangan, permit, ano, diyan na nila kukunin sa administrasyon na ‘yan, sa… it's going to be a department to take care of them,” he said.
Duterte also said there should be a bank that would take remittances, and that the consul general should keep track of OFWs worldwide.
WAR IN MINDANAO. The last issue was about the conflict in Mindanao.
Defensor-Santiago wants to disable private armies in the region.
“Merong private army na kaiba pa sa Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“’Yan nanggagaling sa sa isang pulitiko diyan na maraming perang ninakaw sa gobyerno kaya kaya niya magbuo ng isang army.
“At tapos itong army na ito, hindi na madisiplina dahil sinasabi nila nagtutulong naman daw sila sa gobyerno.
“Kaya yun ang unang-unang tutukan diyan sa iba na ‘yan,” she said.
Roxas talked about further negotiations with armed groups. He said he will continue to push for the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law to put a lasting peace in Mindanao.
Duterte said he sympathizes with these armed groups. He said they are fighting to correct a “historical injustice.”
“The war in Mindanao runs deep.
“You know, this may sound funny to you but when Magellan landed in Leyte, Islam was already planted firmly in Mindanao because they belong to a different sultanate.
“Ang makakaintindi lang yung Sabah papuntang Malaysia.
“But, you know, the conquerors and the Americans and the Spaniards, kinuha nila ang Mindanao, which was already Islam.
“Kaya yung pumunta yong mga sundalo ng Espanyol pati Amerikano, giyera talaga.
“We have to talk and we have to correct the historical injustice,” he explained.
Binay wants to focus on poverty alleviation.
“Sa aking pamumuno, aangat at aangat ang buhay po dun sa inyong lugar sa Mindanao, at ‘yan ho ang magiging pangunahing dahilan kung paano ho tayo magkakaroon ng lasting peace sa inyong lugar,” he said.
Lastly, Poe wants to implement peace talks and infrastructure development.
“Doon sa mga terorista na nananakit o pumapatay, hindi natin dapat sila pagbigyan kung ayaw nilang makipagbalikan, makipagusapan sa gobyerno.
“All-out war sa mga nagbabanta sa atin, pero dapat all-out development rin.
“Sa Maguindanao, wala pa yata kayong provincial hospital. Isa ‘yan sa pangangailangan natin.
“Importante rin na pangalagaan natin ang imprastraktura sapagkat kung konektado kayo sa isa't isa, mas madaling mababantayan ang mga teritoryo natin sa Mindanao,” she said.