As a citizen who wanted change, and is also aiming for a much deserving candidate to vote, we mainly focus on the candidate’s stand on issues the next president of our country will have to focus on: corruption, social inequality, foreign policy, climate change and disasters, the overseas Filipino workers, and peace in Mindanao. We also consider our own criteria, basis on which we are going to accord our respective votes such as the aspirant’s performance on his/her terms of service, authored bills and resolutions, platforms, and its health.
Miriam Defensor Santiago an expert in constitutional and international law, a former Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge and was elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court who happened to stepped down because of her illness, claimed that she will run and participate on the Presidential election this May.
Santiago had been on the Presidential race way back 1992 when she was defeated by Fidel V. Ramos. She is back with her attempt to win the race when she claimed her interest in Presidency on 22 July 2015. She stated that she had been working for the government from the very start so she wanted to end her career through participating in the Presidency election to change what must be change.
She caught everyone off guard by declaring her presidential bid on 13 October 2015, during the signing session of her book, Stupid is Forever More. It was the second day of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections when she proclaimed it.
It is stated in Santiago’s platform that she has plans to continue the government’s cash transfer program with adjustments on the leakages of the program, to support as well the Supreme Court on the Priority Development Assistance Program and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Additionally, she also has plans to “aggressively fight the war against illegal drugs”. Santiago has promised to improve the tax system and increase the government efficiency and also aims to invest in public infrastructure, agriculture sector and government institutions.
Miriam Defensor Santiago’s stands on the issues of the country are as follow;
Due to the abuse of the now-dysfunctional pork barrel system, she filed a bill that seeks to expand the responsibilities of banks in preventing money laundering activities. In my part, this is actually a good proposition because nowadays we cannot trust all the people on the government. It is like each of them has their own dirty secrets and darker sides. Now, let see if these people behind all the banks can be trusted.
- SOCIAL INEQUALITY
Since the first time that Reproductive Health Bill has been discussed to the Senate committee, it became an issue to the Catholic leaders and several politicians. Santiago a champion of Reproductive Health Law has sponsored the measure that provides contraceptives and other reproductive health devices and services to the poor. According to the SOCIAL PROGRESS INDEX OF 2015, Philippines ranked the 51st when it comes to advance social progress it involves the basic human needs, Foundations of Well-being (Access to Basic knowledge) and the Opportunity (Access to Advanced Education). There is no doubt if she is also for improving the quality of formal, non-formal, and special education in the country. Being on medical leave is not an issue to Santiago, she still manage to call on the Senate to look into the tuition hike of some 300 private colleges and universities. The findings of the Commission on Audit that showed millions of new DepEd textbooks are K to 12- aligned. She also filed bills pushing for the protection of commuters especially from the abusive taxi drivers “taking advantage” of their passengers- and the preservation of public transport in the country as well.
- CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTERS
Santiago took part as the co-author of Senate Bill 2789 or the Youth Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and wants to include “responsive, authoritative and service-centered youth” in all levels of DDRM in the country.
As part of this act, Santiago also wants to establish a Flood Recovery Fund for Filipinos affected by floods. In behalf of my perspective, this will be a good proposition for the Filipinos living on the flood zone area of the Philippines. Additionally, she also aims to the protection of homeowners, small business owners and farmers also from losses due to floods and the National Flood Insurance Program is her answer. Even the children who lost their families during typhoon or any disastrous event, she also wanted to provide their protection especially during rough times.
- FOREIGN POLICY
Santiago participated on the foreign matters such as the Philippines- US Military base agreement which happened to be an issue due to her statement that the agreement is “INVALID” without the approval of the Senate, the Philippines’ territorial row with China that is until now still an issue to both country, and the Russia’s invasion of Crimea, a major land mass on the northern coast of the Black Sea.
- OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS
When the execution of the 30 year old OFW Mary Jane Veloso that was arrested due to drug smuggling was delayed, Santiago filed a bill that aim at the expansion of the legal assistance fund managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
She slammed the government for failing to provide the OFW worker some lawyers to defend her.
Now, to prevent more cases similar to Veloso, Santiago said the country needs to put in place “stronger safeguards” for OFWs. She has filed resolutions seeking inquiries, in aid of regulations, into issues of OFWs, including:
- Reports of the double visa scheme by recruitment agencies.
- The need to strengthen state protection for OFWs and anti-human trafficking efforts in the country,
Supposed deployment of OFWs to war-torn countries despite bans urged by the government.
In regards to public service, Santiago is the top-ranking senator in terms of the number of bills and resolutions filed since the start of the 16th Congress including: Reproductive Health Act of 2012, Sin Tax Law, and Climate Change Act of 2009, Renewable Energy Act of 2008, Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Magna Carta of Women, Cybercrime Act of 2012, Archipelagic Baselines Act of 2009. This is despite of her chronic fatigue syndrome.
The election campaign has started on February 9, 2016. Marcos, her running mate, revealed on January 21, 2016, that his campaign with Santiago will be officially launched in the Ilocos region, his hometown. He also said that he and Santiago will campaign separately if possible to maximize their reach.
They started their campaigns with a proclamation rally held in Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte. During the proclamation rally, Marcos gave a lengthy speech, talking about how uniting Filipinos is the only way towards a progressive country.
“Ang adbokasiya na dapat ibalik ang pagkakaisa ng sambayanang Pilipino, yan po ang aking sisimulan na isang kilusan ng pagkakaisa ng buong Pilipinas, na mararamdaman ulit natin, masasabi ulit natin na tayo ay isang bansa, isang diwa, isang gawa,” he said.
Santiago, on the other hand, gave only a two-minute speech, saying the political system must be reformed. She added that if she becomes president, she would go after those who stole from the pork barrel and “promptly” send them to “brand new jails.” The only main issue that has been thrown to her is her health which she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. In the last presidential debate dated 24 April 2016, she firmly stated that she was taking a secret pill that had made her cancer stop, when asked by one of the emcees, Tony Velasquez if she had gone through cancer in the debate’s segment “Fast talk”.
She also detailed who she wants to take over the government, a sentiment she restate in a forum at the Mariano Marcos State University.
“If something happens to me… we want somebody young and idealistic, as you have witnessed, to take over the government,” Santiago said.
Santiago also criticized other presidential candidates, saying they paid millions, possibly billions, of pesos worth of advertisements before the official campaign period. She said this is wrong, adding that it showed how they’ve already violated the law even before they could become president.
She is also in the process of campaigning through social media as she is undergoing treatment for stage 4 lung cancer and this is convenient for her. She earns a high number of followers in some of her social media accounts, which she believes is the key to winning the elections.
“But remember, you are the Filipino people, not the people who are in Malacanang, not the people who are in the Senate, and not certainly the Congresswomen and the Congressmen in the House of Representatives. It is the Filipino voter who stands for the Filipino people. We are the citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, not of anybody’s territorial republic. And this year, 2016, for the first time in generations, we will have the opportunity to re-change our country. It is not merely time for reform, it is not merely time for change – it is a time for conscience in government.” said Santiago on her speech during the launch of Youth for Miriam, 14 February 2016, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
People have voted Santiago many times in her senatorial campaign because they know she have the capability to humiliate to the fact that her co-senator would spill out the truth on which she has proven performing anomalies. And now that she is aiming for the highest position, the Presidency, People had doubted her only because she is ill and suffering from a deadly disease. So tell me, is that a reasonable excuse not to vote for her? What about those aspirants who were physically fine? Does that mean that they already deserve the position?