Sunday, April 25, 2010
A democracy that is truly pro-poor.
A country with peace and order.
A government of transparency and accountability.
REVIVING THE ECONOMY
Steady economic growth that is felt by the masses.
GNP growth is meaningless if poverty and hunger levels and other measures of quality of life remain poor. An Estrada Administration will increase growth while also increasing the country’s human development index. This will be achieved by strengthening the country’s domestic economy, specifically in the field of agriculture, instead of relying on overseas remittances to increase GNP; and by ensuring that the bulk of the budget goes to services that trickle down to the poor, such as social services and education, instead of to debt servicing or overpriced infrastructure projects.
National Security Agenda
PEACE AND ORDER
Ending criminal, insurgent and secessionist movements
President Joseph Estrada’s primary goal is to achieve peace and order nationwide, especially in Mindanao, because he believes that peace and order is a prerequisite to economic development. His top priority is to bring down crime rates in Metro Manila, especially drug-related activities; end insurgency in the Visayas and other provinces infested with rebels; and end the secessionist movement in Mindanao. Aside from the obvious benefits of peace, ending the secessionist movement is a top priority because the country must send out the signal to the international community that we are nation that can keep its own laws in its own land, with the underlying objective of removing travel bans or advisories against the Philippines in order to entice investors and tourists to come. Negotiations will still be the priority means to achieve this objective . However, should the MILF continue to renege on peace agreements and sow terror against Filipinos in Mindanao, war may be considered as a last resort or final means to attaining lasting peace.
FOOD SECURITY AND A TRULY PRO-POOR GOVERNMENT
Alleviating poverty and hunger by achieving food security and ensuring that government’s economic
gains are directed to truly benefit the poor
The cause of poverty and hunger in this country is massive corruption; studies have shown that the cost of corruption is as much as 20% of the budget. Couple that with government policies that prioritize debt servicing, overpriced infrastructure building with sovereign or government guarantees, and massive importation, and it becomes obvious that poverty alleviation is not the priority of the present administration. An Estrada Administration will be a truly pro-poor government, as exhibited in 1998, through the following social policies:
1. Correct budget prioritization.
Instead of the bulk of the budget going to debt servicing, priority will instead be directed towards social services, education and health services, both on the national level and on the local level.
2. Strengthening the agricultural industry
Top priority will be given to the achievement of food security by pouring incentives and strengthening the agricultural industry instead of entertaining a policy of importation. Food security will be achieved by 2015, as the country fulfills its commitment to the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people who are hungry by 2015.
ENDING GRAFT AND CORRUPTION
Achieving transparency and accountability in government
The Arroyo administration has shamed the nation by reaching levels of graft and corruption that have tagged the country as one of the most corrupt countries in the world (Transparency International, Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, World Bank). An Estrada Administration will reverse this reputation through the following policies:
1. Respect for appointment processes and appointments based on meritocracy instead of loyalty
2. Increased private sector participation in the government procurement process through the creation of an Economic Coordinating Council such as the one created by the Estrada Administration in 1998 comprised of respected business leaders through which all bids for government projects will be scrutinized before being approved
3. Bidding out of sugar and rice importation
4. Public participation through real time reports via the internet
5. No sovereign or government guarantees
6. Eliminating recourse to the use of executive privilege when the issue is not a threat to national security
BALANCING THE BUDGET
Gaining investor confidence through peace and order and good governance
The country’s budget deficit has blown up to almost P300 Billion caused admittedly by weak revenues. The weak revenues are due to a decrease in investments due to the unstable peace and order situation in Mindanao and the decreased investor confidence caused by the prevailing image of the Philippines as the world’s most corrupt country under the Arroyo Administration. An Estrada Administration will increase government revenues by increasing investor confidence. The primary incentive for investors will be the
assurance of peace and order, especially in areas like Mindanao, and the setting up of systems that will guarantee less graft and corruption in government, such as increased private sector participation in government procurement by the creation of an Economic Coordinating Council that will review all bids for government projects, a measure set in place during the 1998 term of former President Joseph Estrada. Other measures to increase revenues will include an overhaul of the tax system in order to increase tax collection, as well as increasing the collection of trade taxes by ending smuggling, an effort that was successful during
the term of former President Joseph Estrada.
Achieving food security and economic stability by strengthening the agricultural sector
President Joseph Estrada has always believed that agriculture has the potential to be the greatest strength of the Philippine economy if nurtured properly. His contributions to the agricultural sector include the Carabao Law and Irrigation Law which he authored as senator, as well as the highest agricultural growth in 20 years when he was president, a record 12% increase (from =6% to +6.6%) in spite of the effects of the El Nino crisis. An Estrada Administration will achieve food security through the following programs:
1. Agrikulturang Makamasa.
This program was created to give incentives to the agricultural sector for the increase of farm output. Priority was given to the following: irrigation development, research and technology commercialization, post-harvest and processing modernization, and close partnership with investors and industry groups. Local government units were also given prize money of P100 Million for the province that would produce the highest farm output within a period of time. This program has proven to be effective in increasing farm output, as the Estrada Administration reached record-breaking farm output levels, and also achieved the following results: In nine months alone, the Department of Agriculture installed or rehabilitated almost 8,500 irrigation projects that covered 200,000 hectares of farmland and produced an extra yield of 400,000 MT of palay; extended P3.58 billion in loans to more than a quarter-million rural folk and agribusiness enterprises; and built 500 kilometers of farm-to-market roads.
2. Implementation of the Agri-Agra Law through ERAP Bonds.
The Agri-Agra Law or Presidential Decree No. 717 (“Providing and Agrarian Reform Credit and Financing System from Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Through Banking Institutions”) requires the banking sector to allocate at least 25% of its loanable funds for agricultural credit in general, of which 10% of said loanable funds shall be made available to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Prior to the Estrada Administration, there was an alarming lack of compliance with this law. The 1998 Estrada Administration was able to commit itself to this law by creating an alternative compliance mechanism wherein long term bonds called Economic Recovery
through Agricultural Productivity (ERAP) Bonds amounting to Fifty Billion Pesos (P50,000,000,000.00) were issued to support projects for economic growth under a revitalized rural development program undertaken in cooperation with the Department of Agrarian Reform.
3. Implementation of the Irrigation Law.
The Irrigation Law (RA 6978), authored by then-Senator Joseph Estrada in 1991, mandated the National Irrigation Administration to irrigate 1.5 Million hectares of agricultural land over a ten-year period. Had this law been fully implemented, farmlands across the nation would already be irrigated instead of depending on rain or water. An Estrada Administration will ensure that this law is fulfilled in order to increase farm output as well as to protect farmers from the El Nino phenomenon.
EMPOWERING OUR YOUTH
Investing in our children’s future
President Joseph Estrada has always been committed to providing affordable quality education for the poor. As mayor, he established the San Juan elementary school and high school. As president from 1998 to 2001, he gave the highest real per capita for basic education as compared to all presidents under the present Constitution. He founded the Erap Para Sa Mahirap Scholarship Foundation, which has graduated 16,000 scholars, and the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, which has allowed poor but deserving Muslim students go to colleges or universities of their own choice anywhere in the world. He has also donated all his salaries from
the time that he was mayor to scholarship foundations. As president this 2010, he will:
1. Prioritize education in the budget, as mandated in the Constitution
The Constitution mandates that Article XIV Sec. 5 (5) that the “State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education.” However, of all presidents under the present Constitution, only the Estrada Administration followed this mandate. An Estrada-Binay Administration will strictly follow this Constitutional mandate in order to give our better access to better quality education.
2. Invest in zero-to-five early childhood education.
Research shows that early experiences shape whether or not a child’s brain develops strong skills for future learning, behavior and success. Investing in early childhood education during the infant and toddler years is particularly critical. An Estrada-Binay Administration will invest in early childhood education by mandating and supporting day care centers into incorporating kindergarten and pre-school education in their programs.
3. Achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015
President Joseph Estrada, as the millennium president of the Philippines, signed the Millennium Development Goals initiated by the United Nations. One of the goals that the Estrada Administration committed to for the country is the achievement of universal primary education by the year 2015. This means all children will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling or basic elementary education by 2015. This will be achieved by increasing the budget for basic education, as he had done as president, and fulfilling the mandate of the Constitution to prioritize education in the national budget. Indigent parents will also be given
incentives to send their children to school at least from Grades 1 to 4 through a conditional cash transfer program. To make it less difficult for children to go to school, an Estrada-Binay Administration will also ensure that each municipality has an elementary school so that children will not have to walk more than 5 kilometers just to attend class.
4. Assist Out-of-School Youth
An Estrada Administration will assist out-of-school youth by providing skills training for jobs that do not require a diploma. This is also intended to curb the unemployment rate because 45% of the country’s unemployed are part of the youth who have received no more than a high school education.
5. Make college affordable for everyone
An Estrada Administration will streamline the onerous financial aid application process that discourages students from getting aid for college. An Estrada-Binay Administration will increase the number of government scholarships.
6. Improve the quality of elementary, high school and college education
7. Encourage teachers to stay in the Philippines instead of work abroad
An Estrada Administration will give teachers incentives to stay in the Philippines instead of moving abroad for better paying jobs by (1) increasing teachers’ salaries and (2) increasing teachers’ benefits.
GENERATING REAL JOBS
Increasing Employment Opportunities
An Estrada Administration will increase employment opportunities by creating an atmosphere conductive to
1. Achieving peace and order nationwide.
2. Establishing proper fiscal policies.
3. Achieving stability in labor laws and management.
Preventing the Mass Exodus of Workers
An Estrada Administration will prevent the mass exodus of laborers and professionals by:
1. Increasing employment opportunities especially in the following industries:
a. Services, which comprises 55% of the labor force.
b. Agriculture, which comprises 40% of the labor force.
2. Increasing the quality of employment opportunities in the Philippines
There is a mismatch between the employment demand and the available graduates. Our state colleges and universities are not producing graduates that are demanded by the market. That means our graduates are not necessarily equipped with the demands of new businesses and industries such as the business process outsourcing industry or the hospitality industry. An Estrada-Binay Administration will ensure that state colleges and universities offer courses of the 21st century in order to curb the mismatch in employment opportunities.
Increasing Wages and Workers’ Benefits
An Estrada Administration will ensure that workers’ benefits provided by law are actually observed. There will be a crackdown on the underpayment of wages, non-payment of holiday pay, non-payment of service incentive leave, non-payment of 13th month pay and non-coverage of social sevices, such as the Social Security System, Home Mutual Development Fund or Pag-ibig and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Business permits will not be renewed unless employers prove compliance with the said benefits. An Estrada-Binay Administration will also make sure that minimum wages are sufficient to match the cost of living in an area.
Protecting and Promoting OFWs
An Estrada Administration envisions an economic climate wherein Filipinos seek opportunities abroad not because they need to but because they want to. This will be achieved by strengthening the domestic economy. While in the process of achieving the country’s ideal growth, an Estrada-Binay Administration will assist Overseas Foreign Workers by:
1. Ensuring that they get the best benefits and proper protection against abuse abroad. This will be achieved
(1) Strengthening bilateral relations with receiving countries.
(2) Supporting our labor attaches and welfare officers.
2. Minimizing the social cost borne by separation from their families. This will be achieved by creating a special commission under the Department of Social Welfare and Development specifically to monitor and address the concerns of the families that the OFWs leave behind.
3. Encouraging their return. All efforts will be made to encourage OFWs to return, including:
(1) Giving them incentives to invest their money here.
(2) Creating a commission to study how best to achieve OFWs when they return home.
INFRASTRUCTURE: CONNECTING THE COUNTRY BY LAND
An Estrada Administration will focus on rebuilding Metro Manila from the effects of tyhoons Ondoy and Pepeng and will make sure that the country’s infrastructure is strong enough to withstand similar typhoons in the future.
An Estrada Administration will integrate and expand mass transit systems to create a world class national railway system that will connect north to south.
An Estrada Administration will link the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
An Estrada Administration will properly implement the Road Users Tax for proper road maintenance nationwide, not just street sweeping, as practiced by the present administration.
SOLVING THE POWER CRISIS
Addressing the Power Crisis within the First 100 Days
President Joseph Estrada is seriously concerned with the power crisis affecting Mindanao and other parts of the country. He believes that this was caused by corruption and lack of foresight on the part of the present administration. During the Estrada presidency, he imposed a policy of no sovereign and foreign guarantees in order to diminish if not avoid altogether corruption in the energy department. As an immediate solution, within his first 100 days, President Estrada will take all measures and harness all possible sources of power to meet the necessary megawatt requirements, including power barges and the expansion of the capacity of existing generating plants, in order to end the power crisis within the first year of his administration. As a long-term solution, an Estrada Administration will develop both nuclear (within the bounds allowed by the Constitution) and geothermal energy.
Becoming the Leader in Geothermal Power in Asia
An Estrada Administration will be ready for the next frontier of global investments, specifically, the demand for “green technology” or “green factories”. As more multinational corporations such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, are looking to relocate to countries with geothermal resources, the Philippines, being a country with one of the most highly developed geothermal resources, should be ready to be the next geothermal power.
In order for the Philippines to become the “haven of green factories” in East Asia and possibly in the entire region, an Estrada-Binay Administration will create an investment strategy to induce foreign direct investors to build “green factories” in the Philippine provinces of Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Soccsksargen and Central Mindanao. The objective will be to generate impressive investments in geothermal power and utilize the fact that the Philippines has the second highest geothermal power capacity in the world today, next only to the United States of America.
STRENGTHENING TIES WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
An Estrada Administration will strengthen the role of the Philippines as an advocate for democracy and human rights in Asia. A prerequisite to this is a real democracy that benefits the masses and not just the elite.
An Estrada Administration will negotiate carefully with other international claimants to various land and water territories of the Republic of the Philippines in the South China Sea while fighting for Philippine territorial integrity.
An Estrada Administration will strengthen ties, especially trading relations, with Asian neighbors such as China whose economies are growing rapidly.
An Estrada Administration will strengthen relations with receiver countries of the Philippines’ millions of overseas foreign workers in order to ensure our workers’ protection and encourage increased benefits.
An Estrada Administration will maintain the Philippines strong relations with international giants such as the United States but will not compromise on matters that involve the nation’s territorial integrity.
An Estrada Administration will join the effort of the global community to fight climate change and promote bioenergy and agriculture.
Human Rights Agenda
President Joseph Estrada believes that private armies are illegal per se. An Estrada Administration will dismantle all private armies.
President Joseph Estrada believes that uncontrolled population growth is a source of poverty. An Estrada Administration will support the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill and work towards fulfilling our country’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015.
President Joseph Estrada believes that the blessings of democracy come alongside the responsibility of maintaining peace and order. An Estrada Administration will resolve as speedily as possible all existing cases relating to extrajudicial killings in order for the victims’ families to find justice; condemn all extra judicial killings; and increase security for the protection of journalists especially in far flung places like Mindanao where the threat to their lives is higher than other visitors.