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Know more about your presidential and vice presidential candidates

On May 9, our nation will be holding its general elections. In total, thousands of national, provincial, and local positions are being contested as the campaign period continues to intensify. We are heedful of this as your Baguio Midland Courier celebrates its 69th year of public service while we reflect on our humble beginnings and push forward as the Exponent of the Wonderland of the Cordilleras and the Riches of Ilocandia.

"Political Will to Address Long-term Problems in the Cordillera Administrative Region" is the theme of this year’s Anniversary Supplement. Mindful of our place as sentinels in the Fourth Estate and sincere in our commitment to inform the reading public of important matters, we have invited the candidates for President and Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines to share their thoughts concerning our region.

Last month, we sent invitations to the five Presidential and six Vice Presidential candidates through their official channels. In the spirit of fairness and journalistic integrity, we informed each that all other candidates received the same proposition. We exerted earnest efforts and due diligence to reach and obtain their participation but sadly, not all were able to comply. Your Courier posed to each, respectively as candidates for the two highest positions in the executive department, the following question, "What plans and message do you have for the people of the Cordillera?" The following are their responses.

It is ironic that despite its rich soil, extensive rivers and vast forests and abundant minerals, Cordillera Region has a high incidence of poverty as evidenced by inequities of non-inclusive growth.

"Gobyernong may Puso" is committed to bring the benefits of inclusive growth to the people in the remotest areas so that no one will be left behind in the development of the country. Our platform is focused on addressing poverty, which is the root of the nation’s problems.

A cornerstone of our economic program is the development of agriculture and tourism, which majority of people in the Cordillera depend on.

We will make agriculture profitable through a range of strategies to make farmers and their families financially self-sustaining, encouraging young Filipinos to engage in farming and related livelihoods. Agricultural infrastructure – both hard and soft – is a key component. The government will ensure irrigation, mechanization, credit and storage facilities and farmers’ education and training.

To protect the income of Cordilleran farmers, we will intensify the drive against vegetable smuggling through increased cooperation between Bureau of Customs, Department of Agriculture and other intelligence coordinating agencies.

We will invest in roads and bridges that will bring the region’s fresh produce to various markets quickly to minimize spoilage, and bring tourists to Cordillera’s unique attractions. We will help in the realization of the Philippine Tourism Development Plan, which is to attract 10 million foreign tourist arrivals in CAR.

The DPWH will work with the LGUs in creating a rational infrastructure blueprint appropriate to the region’s terrain. The participation of civil society organizations, people’s organizations and the academe will be crucial to ensure responsiveness to the needs of the region, and to minimize corruption.

We will also support development of agriculture and tourism–related industries to create livelihood opportunities. We will increase support to potential job-generating industries such as cultural heritage promotion, bamboo–based industries and revival of the natural dye industry.

The Cordillera provinces are among the top ten most landslide–prone areas in the country, thus we will work with LGUs in putting up landslide mitigating structures in major landslide–prone areas, national roads, and communities. Crucial entry or exit points for disaster response mobilization will be upgraded or rehabilitated.

Illegal logging and illegal mining contribute to the risk of floods, landslides and destruction of habitats. The DENR Forest Management Bureau will strengthen the National Greening Program and ensure its strict implementation and efficiency.

We will encourage a Philippine Mining industry that is responsible, and compliant with environmental laws and human rights. We will strengthen coordination between the LGUs and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to regulate mining, without killing the industry.

We will strictly enforce requirement for free, prior and informed consent by communities to mining projects. We will go after illegal mining and logging operations; the DOJ and the Office of Ombudsman will prosecute government officials, private groups and individuals involved in these crimes.

Finally, we will not neglect the basic needs of Cordillera communities by prioritizing education and health by investing in schools, teachers, hospitals, clinics and medical professionals in all areas of the country. We will ensure an equitable share of internal revenue allotment for the region and that LGUs utilize financial support from national government for specific programs designed to improve and expand social services.

Sa "Gobyernong may Puso", walang maiiwan sa Cordillera.

The country’s progress in the last six years has been rooted in the people’s renewed trust in the government’s banner program “Daang Matuwid”, the principle that has steered our country to where it is now. We have not only restored integrity, transparency, and accountability in government but also put the Filipino family back at the center of government decisions through policies and programs.

For instance, there are roughly 80,000 families in the Cordillera whose lives were improved because of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

We invested heavily on better infrastructure facilities and services in the region. Additional classrooms were constructed through the public-private partnership and more classrooms are under way. We have built roads, which have improved connectivity in the region. Travel time from Baguio to Manila has been shortened from five to seven hours to just three hours, which is crucial to the agriculture, trade and tourism.

In addition, the government has allocated P533 million for community development and livelihood projects in the region under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan program. Apart from livelihood projects and social protection programs, the fund will also be used to construct bridges, water systems, post-harvest facilities, and other community infrastructures. 

These are just a few of what Daang Matuwid has accomplished for the people of the Cordilleras, which were made possible only through honest and participatory governance. 
Under a Roxas-Robredo administration, we intend to ensure the continuation and completion of existing programs and projects that truly benefit the people. 

Through the “Bukid Revolution,” we will ensure improvements in agriculture productivity and connectivity will lead to jobs creation not only in the agriculture sector but also the manufacturing and services sectors.

One pillar of our comprehensive agriculture development plan is to further increase investment and accelerate development of infrastructure facilities and services, such as farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities. These will be done in the Cordillera, which is an agriculture region.

On the calls for Cordillera autonomy, our support will materialize through the expanded Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) that provides additional resources (based on population size) to local governments, on top of their internal revenue allotment.

For the empowerment of the women of the Cordillera, we will build the capacities of indigenous women to engage in the formulation and implementation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Plans and Programs (ADSDPP). 

In the education sector, we will ensure that facilities and infrastructures for education are complete, especially in far-flung areas in Cordillera, so Filipino children get competent education.  A “Valedictorian Fund” will be made available to provide financial support of P100,000.00 every year for tertiary education of every public high school valedictorian nationwide. A yearly assistance of P10,000.00 will also be given to the top 10 graduates of every public high school. 

In the health sector, construction of Barangay Health Units complete with facilities and health personnel will be a priority. We will also continue and improve existing health programs such as the free maintenance medicine program as well as free immunization. 

These are not mere promises. We have already proven that these can be done under a decent government.

We have come far since 2010, but we can bring our country much further if we stay and work together. Indeed, the best is yet to come for our country, for every Filipino family—for every family in the Cordillera.

According to the 2010 Census of Population and Housing conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, Baguio City is home to 318,676 residents. However, Baguio’s daytime population is much larger as it continues to attract tourists, entrepreneurs, and students putting a strain on utilities and other basic services in a city that was originally built for 30,000 persons. The city has the highest population density in Cordillera at 5,541 people per square kilometer, almost 68 times that of the region.

The inner city and suburban roads of Baguio were not designed to serve the current volume of Baguio vehicles. According to city records, in 2010, there are 6,892 private vehicles. These city roads also accommodated 18,346 jeepneys and taxis in 2010. 

Baguio’s three major traffic problems are dwindling parking spaces, the absence of PUV terminals, and the small number of government employees tasked to manage traffic each day.

Urban centers face similar problems. Clearly, something must be done. My suggestions are:
• ​Order a review of the number coding scheme;
•​ Promote bicycle and pedestrian lanes;
•​ Impose, with legislative support if necessary, a progressive taxing scheme for the purchase of more than one car per family, as well as regulations for car loans;
•​ Require large malls and commercial centers to provide areas for proper bus stops;
•​ Consider imposing a fixed salary system for drivers in the public transport system to discourage the practice of stopping whenever they see potential passengers; and
•​ Continue and replicate the point-to-point bus system.

There is no machine that can measure whether a person has a capability to be the host of honesty and leadership. All candidates say they are poor, but all of them run expensive campaigns funded by big business. This places them at the mercy of corporations with vested interests. That is the way the present system works. That’s why Sen. Bongbong Marcos and I are running – for a real change.

A genuine leader should do the following:

Model the way. First, the leader should follow what he is teaching.

Inspire vision. He must lead his people to a good place where we have not been before.

A good president enables others to act. First, enable your Cabinet members to act, then enable every Fillipino to act.

Encourage the heart. Leaders differ from managers through being more in touch with the emotional aspect of leading. Showing appreciation and creating a community sentiment provides an honest environment where employees can thrive.

There is no leader in this country, there are only managers, and they manage a firm of billionaires. We are run by billionaires! They decide how they create gods, since they don’t have any plans in their heads. They decide how many children should a family have, and many other policy issues that could be decided by democracy itself.

We are not a real democracy. We are a sham democracy. We are a pretend democracy.

We want to change the fate of this government. We want to educate our country the status of our democracy where every vote counts.

Come and join us for I can see the future in the horizon, and that future lies in your hands.

To the people of the Cordillera, I would like to greet you all Dios iti agngina!

The people of the Cordillera have always been an important part of our nation. As the only landlocked region in the Philippines, the Cordillera has a great potential in terms of agricultural industrialization. I have said many times before that the foundation of our economy is agriculture. If the foundation is not good, whatever we do, not much will happen.

On our part, we took care of the agricultural situation in Ilocos Norte. When I went in as governor, our production was 60 percent of our consumption. When my term ended, it was already 300 percent and we started exporting. I strongly believe we can do the same in the Cordillera.

We have seen the effects of unbridled importation and the smuggling of agriculture products such as rice, onions, and garlic on our farmers. With the removal of tariff barriers, our farmers may suffer more unless the government gets its act together to provide a comprehensive package of support, which I will provide should I succeed as vice president.

This is a timely endeavor as we are now entering the full implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) where each member country committed to open their markets to each other and the first sector that would be hardest hit in the Philippines is agriculture.

As a booming tourist destination, the Cordillera offers a cool respite for Filipinos, especially during this summer season which is one of the hottest on record. I firmly maintain tourism is a vital instrument for economic growth. Take a look at Thailand where tourism is one of its major sources of revenue.

One of my achievements as a former governor of Ilocos Norte was making the province a major tourist destination, not only for local but also for international tourists. This was achieved through infrastructure development as well as constant marketing. Before, I was personally making visits to China, where I forged a sisterhood agreement with the Shandong province with the goal of increasing the number of Chinese tourists to Ilocos Norte.

At the same time, however, we recognize the significance in maintaining the cleanliness of our tourist destinations and the preservation of our heritage sites.

To this end, I filed Senate Resolution 650: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, which expresses the sense of the Senate to urge government agencies to work collaboratively to save the rice terraces of the Philippine Cordillera from degradation.

Under a Bongbong Marcos vice presidency, we will increase public spending and strategic investments in tourism development and promotion, which will result in long-term benefits, especially in terms of job generation and increased income for local governments.

The windmills of Bangui, for instance, built under my term, are now regarded as a tourist attraction, aside from being an alternative source of energy.

The Igorots are a hardy yet humble people and the Cordillera is the most diversified ethno-linguistic region in the Philippines, with its major languages having sub-dialect variations. Despite this, we all share one land and one sky.

I urge all registered voters of the Cordillera to come out and vote on election day. May 9, 2016 will go down in history as the day that the Northerners practiced their right to suffrage and voted for a fellow northerner who has their interests in mind. Mabuhay ang Cordillera! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

I would like to take this opportunity to present myself to you as national candidate. I am Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV, Senator, and now running as Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The Cordillera Administrative Region is considered one of the richest regions in the country in terms of natural resources. The Cordillera has contributed to the bulk of agricultural produce distributed to nearby provinces and Metro Manila.

The fast-paced climate change has been very alarming and is now considered a global dilemma. It can affect various sectors of society and for the Cordillera, the most vulnerable would be the agriculture sector. Now more than ever, the region is experiencing the negative effects of extreme weather conditions and massive environmental destruction. As a plan of action on these issues, I strongly support the revision of existing laws on environmental protection that will strengthen the implementation of penalties for violators and promote environmental sustainability. 

Furthermore, I would seek to strengthen the agriculture sector while we face the unavoidable consequences of climate change. We need to modernize our methods to increase production while reducing production costs. With the ASEAN integration, competition is tight and we won’t survive if we remain as we are today. We need the support from government, the access to capital and basic infrastructure development.  

In the Senate, I proposed a bill to enable farmers to own post-harvest facilities with support from the government.  The bill will also allow farmers’ cooperatives to acquire facilities at cost to be amortized for a period of time. The farmers’ control and ownership of the storage and transport facilities in production will increase their income. I also filed a bill that condones unpaid interests, penalties, and surcharges on loans secured by farmers, fisher folks, and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

It is also necessary to engage our youth in agriculture. I filed a bill that institutionalizes the Young Farmers program, which aims to strengthen the participation of the youth in agricultural productivity and equip them with technical and entrepreneurial skills, provide them with production and marketing support, and aid them in capital formation with the hope that they may contribute to food security, generate employment in the countryside, and energize the agri-fisheries sector.

There is so much the national government can do for you, but you must raise your voice so you would be heard. We need to be even more persistent in pushing for your interests.
Truly, these are challenging times ahead. From what I see, as our country prepares for the ASEAN integration process, it could learn something from the Cordillera. The Cordilleras is the epitome of diversity in history and culture. The provinces composing the Cordillera have unique and distinct cultures and at times even in one province there are several sub-groups. This variance in culture might have caused conflicts but due to a conscious effort to focus on common ground rather than diversity, development and progress ensued.

Ultimately, I believe that the Philippines’ competitive advantage over the other countries is its people. Filipinos are known to be creative, resilient, hardworking, good-natured, and hospitable. We have always faced adversity and we have always come out victorious. Today, we are more proud and eager to show what the Filipinos can actually do.

Other news
:: This conundrum called Cordillera autonomy
:: Our current language ‘barriers’ – any takers?
:: Advocating PWD rights, one jeepney ride at a time
:: Why cultural heritage needs to be preserved
:: The politics in garbage
:: Locating the youth in political platforms today
:: Protecting and preserving eco-tourism sites in the Cordillera
:: Political will key to saving Baguio’ last ecological frontiers
:: Poverty reduction as primary election agenda in Cordillera
:: CAR leaders as champions of Disaster Risk Reduction
:: #BaguioandCordillera: Sustaining an effective traffic management

Baguio Country Club
Cordillera Career Development College
Department of Tourism – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Informatics Institute
Medline International Training Institute

Baguio Central University
Baguio Multicultural Institute
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Health – CAR
Department of Tourism – CAR
Fox Elite Immigration Consultancy
King’s College of the Philippines
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
Philippine Veterans Bank
Philippine Women’s University – Baguio
Pines City Colleges
Regional Development Council & National Economic Development Authority – CAR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
Sutherland Global Services
University of Baguio

Assumption Medical Diagnostic Center
Baguio Center Mall
Baguio Heart and Lung Diagnostic Center, Inc.
Baguio Water District
Banco De Oro
Barangay 92.7 FM
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
C & Triple A Supermart
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Cordillera Kidney Specialists, Inc.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Public Works and Highways – CAR
Department of Science and Technology – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
John Hay Management Corporation
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
Philex Mining Corporation
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – Cordillera
Pines International Academy Inc.
Pugad: Pugo Adventure
Rianella Printing Press
Social Security System


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