CEBU CITY, Philippines – The mayoral and vice-mayoral candidates of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) said on Saturday, March 19, they oppose the Anti-Dynasty Bill. This was during the “Panaghimamat 2016” local forum organized by the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG).
Mayoral candidate Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña said the bill is unfair to political families with a good track record. He cited his son as an example.
“My son graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). You tell me that he’s not qualified to run for public office,” Osmeña, who already served as Cebu City mayor for 16 years, said.
The Anti-Dynasty Bill is seen as one of the most important electoral reforms of ASOG since, if passed, it will give more Filipinos more chances to run for public office.
He added: “It’s usual for a son of a guitarist to be a guitarist (himself), and a son of a lawyer to be a lawyer himself because that’s part of his upbringing and culture. If we have an Anti-Dynasty Law, we should have a law that if your father is a lawyer, you’re not allowed to be a lawyer.”
The Osmeña clan is one of the most dominant political families in Cebu. The political dynasty began with former Philippine president Sergio Osmeña Sr, the mayoral candidate’s grandfather. Tomas’ older brother Sergio Osmeña III is a 3-term senator seeking reelection. BOPK, which the Osmeñas run, is in coalition with the administration’s Liberal Party.
Osmeña lost to incumbent mayor Michael Rama during the 2013 polls.
The former mayor told students they should not disregard candidates just because they are part of a political family.
“Don’t use the family as an excuse. I did the South Reclamation Project (SRP) not because I’m an Osmeña but because I studied very hard. I put all my efforts into this but because I’m an Osmeña you should not vote for me? Something’s wrong,” he added.
Osmeña’s running mate Nestor Archival, a city councilor, said the bill is a lost cause.
“I don’t think that the Anti-Dynasty bill will prosper because, as you know, the people who are making this are actually relatives and friends of other politicians. How can this be implemented?” Archival said.
He added: “You cannot stop it actually because the voters are lured by money. The only thing is that the constituents need to be informed because they are the ones who vote.”
Greener Cebu for Archival
During the forum, co-organized by the National Youth Commission, and the First Time Voters Network, candidates were asked about their platform and stand on key issues selected by ASOG – agriculture and fisheries development, bottom-up budgeting, social protection programs (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), electoral reforms, and youth empowerment.
Achival focused his platform on climate change adaptation.
“The biggest threat to humanity right now is climate change and we must do something. Sixty percent of the green house gases all over the world are caused by energy and transportation. In the city government, I have made an ordinance to reduce the electrical cost of the city government’s street lights by 50%,” Archival said.
Cebu City has 27,000 lighting fixtures in the streets, paying around P11 million a month. Archival said he made an ordinance to utilize LED lights instead, reducing the wattage from 250 to 110. The challenge will be its implementation.
“If this would be implemented in the city of Cebu, this can be a model for other cities and municipalities in the country. This will bring down costs and our carbon footprint,” he added.
Archival also said he is currently crafting a Green Building Code ordinance, where buildings will be required to use materials that don’t harm nature. It will also require structures that are designed to lessen carbon footprint.
“People should realize that if we use too much energy, it is disastrous. What is important is for students to impart the knowledge you have to other people,” he told the voters.
Good governance platform
Osmeña adopted a different approach during his speech. Instead of giving his position on the issues provided by the organizers, he told students about the core meaning of governance. (READ: Cebu congressional bets bare platforms, stances on key issues)
“What is the role of the city government in nation-building? If you ask all our senators what the role of government is, I don’t think you’ll get the same answer,” Osmeña asked the audience.
“To us, in BOPK, the role of government is to provide service. This is where we get into a debate because lawyers would say the role of government is to govern. I insist it’s to provide service,” the party leader said.
Osmeña cited his past achievements as former mayor and added that if reelected, he would lessen red tape.
“One of the biggest problems in government is red tape. People say it’s corruption but I don’t think that’s exactly true. There’s a lot of corruption, no question about it, but red tape is definitely an issue. A lot of resources get wasted on administrative costs,” he said.
He added: “When you talk about a platform of government, you first talk about what services people want – jobs, infrastructure. Then find out what are your resources and allocate; whatever you have is spent as wisely as possible.”
Rama of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and his running mate Edgardo Labella were both invited to the local debate but were no-shows. The event happens a day before the much-awaited second presidential debate to be held at the University of the Philippines Cebu. – Rappler.com