MANILA, Philippines – After being away from public service for 20 years, former Cabinet official Rafael Alunan III is now eyeing a return to government, this time in the Senate.
Alunan served two Philippine presidents. He was the tourism secretary of President Corazon Aquino, and interior secretary of President Fidel Ramos.
In 1996, he left the government to pursue a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Now aiming for a Senate seat, Alunan is hoping to fix the country. “My job is to fix things, my job is to defend the country, my job is to protect the people and win the future,” he said upon filing his certificate candidacy.
As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Alunan’s stand on key issues that the next batch of senators will have to address.
Corruption, good governance
In an opinion piece, Alunan recognized the alarming state of corruption in the country, which he compared to rust.
“Corruption, like rust, is corrosive….That’s what we have to do with the advanced state of corrosion we see in our state of governance and the state of the nation,” he said.
Alunan listed good governance at the top of his legislative platform. “We need elected and appointed officials with the right stuff, who do the right things and do things the right way.”
In an interview with the National Press Club, he said he will push for “principle in good government” to produce good public officials, and for reform in the criminal justice system.
Alunan plans to prioritize risk reduction, emergency preparedness, and crisis management to ensure the safety of the public, especially the youth.
In a climate change forum, he recommended “forward-looking land use acts and urban planning” as effective measures in addressing the issue in the country.
Alunan is vocal against China’s bullying of the Philippines in their dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). “There’s nothing China is holding on to except the fiction that they own the South China Sea and nobody believes them,” he said in one interview.
A lead convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, he was at the forefront of a 2015 protest “aimed at mobilizing Filipinos in general and cause-oriented groups in particular to resist and counter China’s continued territorial expansion in the West Philippine Sea.”
Peace in Mindanao
Alunan has openly expressed his opposition to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
In his blog post, he mentioned that he would rather “focus on improving the capacities and capabilities” in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“If it lacks financial resources, then channel more funds to it subject to proper controls. If it lacks the teeth to complement the local government units under it, then it should be empowered. That being the case, what we will end up with is a reenergized or reengineered ARMM without wrecking the system. That is our way out of this dangerous BBL,” he said.
Alunan said in a Facebook post that the BBL will create more chaos in Mindanao. “It will not bring peace; it will bring their holy war and more bloodshed than what we’ve already spilled into our heartland, the land they say of the kuffar or infidels,” he said.
Alunan said he wants to establish a high quality educational system that will emphasize values, patriotism, and good manners – things he claims are missing in today’s system, compared to the education system during his time.
For Alunan, all members of the uniformed services shall undergo professionalization, modernization, and sustained funding.
Though he claims that both internal and external defense are essential, he would prioritize the “retooling of AFP for external defense” in his legislative agenda.
Alunan said he would push for a combination of executive orders and new laws – perhaps even constitutional amendments – to improve the competitiveness of Philippine businesses.
He also promised to make laws for farmers and other agrarian-based laborers/professionals. “Full support must be provided to land reform beneficiaries for them to become viable enterprises and make a steady profit,” he said.
Alunan considers both abortion and euthanasia as illegal, although he would consider several exceptions.
He is also against the reimposition of the death penalty. “For as long as our criminal justice system is weak and ineffective due to corruption and inefficiency, no one but no one will fear the long arm of the law even with the death sentence in place,” he said. – Rappler.com
Rafael Alunan III is among the senatorial candidates who will participate in Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant Senatorial Debates at the Far Eastern University on Friday, April 22, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.
Noa Carrascoso is a Rappler intern.
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