MANILA, Philippines – He wants to stop the problems that plague Metro Manila from happening in other parts of the country. Can former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino deliver?
While Tolentino has drawn flak for how he handled Metro Manila traffic, the senatorial candidate has said that traffic is just one of the MMDA’s mandate.
“Sometimes it’s unfair. Especially when you look at the other needs that would alleviate traffic. For instance: MRT, that’s not my turf. The constructions, not my turf,” he said in an Esquire Philippines interview.
He said public safety is his top priority, pointing to how the MMDA handled the papal visit in 2015, the Iglesia ni Cristo anniversary, the Feast of the Black Nazarene, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation week.
Tolentino has also taken credit for the deployment of the Philippine National Police HIghway Patrol Group, saying he was the one who recommended it.
Before his stint at the MMDA, Tolentino was mayor of Tagaytay City, a position once held by his brother, Cavite Representative Abraham Tolentino. The incumbent is his sister-in-law, Agnes Tolentino.
He takes credit for turning Tagaytay into a top tourist destination. Among the policies and programs he implemented were the Tagaytay Office of Public Safety, the “Character First” programs, the founding of the City College of Tagaytay, the establishment of Ospital ng Tagaytay, barangay health offices, CIty Health Office, and the Tagaytay City Mounted Police.
As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Tolentino’s stand on key issues that the next batch of senators will have to address.
Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Francis Tolentino should be part of the Senate.
If elected senator, Tolentino said he will pursue rural development to help decongest Metro Manila. He cited the model provided by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, an attached agency of Department of Trade and Industry that facilitates business operations and provides incentives for investors in export-oriented manufacturing and service facilities in selected areas around the country.
He also said he intends to use Senate oversight functions to examine laws meant to reverse centralism but are not working. He cited the Local Government Code, the Kalakalan 20, and the Magna Carta of Small Farmers as some of the laws that might need review.
Tolentino plans to provide “better openings for women in unchartered areas.” He said he wants greater women’s participation and empowerment in the labor sector to unleash their full potential for economic development. He also wants school children to automatically become direct beneficiaries of PhilHealth and educational health insurance.
Climate change and disaster
Tolentino’s statements on his website have mostly focused on disaster preparedness. During his time as MMDA chairman, the MMDA organized the Metro Manila Shake Drill, the first metro-wide earthquake drill in the country (HIGHLIGHTS: The Metro Manila Shake Drill).
On the topic of disaster preparedness, Tolentino said in a Tribune report that he will push for the creation of a Philippine Urban Development Commission that will advise local government units (LGUs) in city planning. This, he said, would help avoid planning-caused problems that plague Metro Manila. He also wants to create a Police Youth Reserve Corps to help maintain peace and order during times of disaster.
Meanwhile, he believes more money should go into post-disaster recovery and reconstruction efforts. He said this can be done through a community rehabilitation/recovery trust fund for LGUs.
He also called on the private sector to have business continuity plans for quick resumption of operations after calamities occur.
Among his other plans for improving disaster preparedness and the fight against climate change are the following:
- Speedy rehabilitation for greater resiliency in the face of climate change
- Allocate funds to a Community Rehabilitation/Recovery Trust Fund for LGUs
- Set up a well-planned system for rehabilitating communities adversely affected by natural and manmade disasters, with the assistance of the private sector, through appropriate tax incentives
- Encourage the practice of responsible mining coupled with assured revenues for host communities for community development projects
- Grant tax holidays to environment-friendly companies and enterprises
- Use of alternative sources of energy “given the complex and sensitive environmental issue of the coal fuel cycle”
The senatorial candidate opposes the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. While the former MMDA chairman says he is “for peace, development, and progress in Mindanao” he said he fears a “dismemberment” between the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to an Inquirer report.
The draft Bangsamoro Basic bill seeks to integrate the Bangsamoro Police force into the Philippine National Police. It also seeks to empower the Central Government to create a Bangsamoro Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Among his other plans, he wants to push for legislation to implement the Character First program in all local governments as he did in Tagaytay City.
Tolentino has said he supports tax breaks for local filmmakers. At present, filmmakers have to pay 20% amusement tax on top of the 12% value added tax (VAT) on materials on both production and post production processing, and 12% VAT on gross ticket sales, income taxes, other fees, charges, licenses, and permits.
He also proposed scrapping the amusement tax for local films paid by moviegoers, as the Quezon City government did in 2006. – Rappler.com
Francis Tolentino is among the senatorial candidates who will participate in Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant Senatorial Debates at AMA University and Colleges in Quezon City on Friday, April 8, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.
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