What does the most vote-rich province want from the next president?
CEBU, Philippines - What do Cebuanos want to tell the next Philippine president?
With its large voter base and rich political history, the Cebu province is considered a crucial battleground during elections.
Cebu is the most vote-rich province, with 2,722,288 registered voters.
With only a few days left before Filipinos cast their votes for the next leaders of the country, voters in Cebu voiced their concerns which they hope the next president of the Philippines will address.
For them, the most pressing issues in Cebu are agriculture, education, and labor.
Agriculture as top priority
Mary Chris Ardiente, 25 years old, has been selling flowers since she was in elementary.
Because of the nature of her job, she wants the next president of the Philippines to prioritize the agriculture sector and address the plight of the farmers.
“Unta kung kinsa man ang musunod nga presidente hatagan unta niya og pagtagad ang irigasyon labi na kung El Nino, kay maglisod gyod mi sa among mga pananom during El Nino gyod,” Ardiente said.
(I hope that whoever will be the next president of the Philippines, he or she should take a look at the agriculture industry and provide proper irrigation system especially during El Niño.)
Proper irrigation helps farmers produce crops year-round, especially during the dry season.
She shared how their business was greatly affected by El Niño as their crops died or wilted due to the lack of water. (READ: #ClimateActionPH: It’s time for the Philippines to get serious about climate change)
“Sa among kahimtang karon, tungod sa El Nino grabe kaayo naapektuhan ang pananom, init kaayo, nangamatay ang mga buwak, nagnihit ang buwak unya hinay kaayo ang halin. Swerte nalang intawon kung makaginansiya mi og Php 200 in every 50 dozens nga among ibaligya,” Ardiente added.
(El Niño had affected our crops; the temperature nowadays is so hot resulting to the flowers to wither. The production of flowers decreased and we have lesser income. Luckily for our part, we can gain the P200 profit for every 50 dozen flowers we sell.)
According to the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA), farmers and fishermen make up the majority of the poor, and are often at the bottom of the poverty spectrum. (READ: Climate change creating 'new poor' in PH)
Agriculture and the farmers plight recently took the nation's centerstage after what happened to the Kidapawan farmers early April.
“Gusto ko kung kinsa man gani ang mamahimong presidente sa Pilipinas kinahanglan unahon siguro niya og tan-aw kining mga tao nga galisud karon. Kinahanglan ang mga sweldo karon labi na sa kadtong ubos-ubos padakoan siguro ang sweldo kay lisod gyod kaayo ang panahon karon, ang minimum kulang kaayo unya ang mga pamalitonon pirteng mahala,” said Kelim Aranas, a 45 year-old security guard.
(To the next president of the Philippines, he/she should take a look at the marginalized sectors in the society, those people who fight poverty. There should be an increase in wages because of the hard times. The minimum wage is not even enough to sustain the daily necessities; every time we purchase something it costs a lot.)
He has been a security guard for almost 25 years – more than half of his life.
Aranas pressed the issue on the need for a wage increase, noting that minimum wages are not enough to sustain the needs of his 5 children.
The Regional Wage Board recently approved the wage hike in several towns of Cebu, raising the minimum wage from P340 to P353. This is applicable to private sector in Metro Cebu, including the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Naga, Carcar, and Danao, and the municipalities of Compostela, Consolacion, Liloan, Cordova, Minglanilla, and San Fernando.
The increase was not enough, Aranas said.
Providing quality education
Mary Giselle Carreon, a 19 year-old university student, said that the next president of the country should offer the best quality education in any way possible.
“As a youth, I would like the next president to prioritize quality education for this would open doors of opportunities and career growth,” Carreon said.
Under the Aquino administration, the budget for both basic and higher education increased and other important laws were passed, including the anti-bullying law, the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Law.
But according to Carreon, like many other students, she did not feel the benefits of the laws.
Nearly a million Cebu voters belong to the youth, with 1,248,208 voters – or 45.85% of its voter population – aged 18-34. In Cebu City, 278,974 are young voters.
What Cebuanos want
The 5 presidential bets – with the exception of Miriam Defensor Santiago – took turns visiting the vote-rich province throughout the campaign period.
The province was also the battleground for Comelec's second presidential debate in March.
Despite the time and energy the presidential bets have poured into the province of Cebu, a question remains: will they heed Cebiuanos' demands? - Rappler.com