Philippine arts

#TalkThursday: Portrait of an oppositionist

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Rappler talks to Zambales Rep. and UNA senatorial candidate Mitos Magsaysay

MANILA, Philippines – In this week’s edition of #TalkThursday, Rappler talks to Zambales Rep. and UNA senatorial candidate Mitos Magsaysay.

Magsaysay is a 6-time outstanding congressman awardee. In an event at the University of Makati, the Zambales representative comprehensively enumerated the services she provided her constituents which include free diagnostic laboratory tests and drug tests. 

She is also a known critic of the Aquino government. In two separate incidents, she had public spats with Communications secretary Ricky Carandang over the purchase of high-end laptops and mobile phones and Budget secretary Florencio Abad for withholding her pork barrel. 

Magsaysay, a former Arroyo partymate, tells Rappler she only defended Arroyo when she felt the former president was being deprived of her right to due process. She says, “Even in the Arroyo administration they used to question whether I was part of the majority. Because I sounded more like I’m opposition asking them questions and her Cabinet secretaries then would tell GMA, are you sure she’s part of the majority? How come she keeps on calling us out in committee hearings?”

Magsaysay adds, she did not benefit from Arroyo. I was the one who was the least close to GMA in the past administration. I never went to presidential trips, I never had any extras as far as my PDAF is concerned.” Magsaysay claims the former President “was wary of me; I’m too vocal for her.”

Magsaysay also talks about her position on the controversial reproductive health bill and the sin tax bill. She says the RH bill is redundant because its provisions are already covered by an existing law, the Magna Carta for Women. “Why do we need to pollute [the country with] too many laws, when existing laws already take care of them?”

Magsaysay adds, the taxpayers were never considered in this issue. “When we asked the pro-RH side, how much money do you think we should allocate for condoms and contraceptives, and they said 3 billion. And for me that’s a big amount, it’s too steep.”

Magsaysay also explains her opposition to the sin tax law, which would raise prices for alcohol and tobacco. She says there is no safeguard to protect tobacco farmers affected by the law. “I don’t just look at it from the point of view of the health issue. When you pass a law you have to look at the overall picture and get everyone involved, all the stakeholders should be involved and should be heard.” – 

[Editor’s note: We apologize for a factual error in a previous version of this article that says Magsaysay publicly defended former President Arroyo in the “Hello Garci” scandal.]

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