Comparison of presidential candidate platforms

A the socio-economic project of the presidential candidate is his social pact with the people. It is their written commitment of projects and programs for which they can be held accountable.

As informed voters, we should take the time to encourage those around us not to be swayed by social media propaganda. Rather, we must enjoin everyone to do their due diligence and vote for the candidate whose agenda best resonates with their values.

So far, I have reviewed the socio-economic projects of candidates Robredo, Moreno, Lacson and Pacquiao. I asked Marcos’ camp for a copy of Marcos Jr.’s diary as early as December 15 but received nothing. Recently I was informed that they are still writing it even as we approach the last mile of the countryside.

Manny Pacquiao’s socio-economic agenda includes 22 areas that encompass housing, agriculture, youth development, and sports development, among others. Unfortunately, Pacquiao does not specify his intentions for each, only to say that he will reinforce them. He also doesn’t haveIfnot its targets or goals.

The most substantial socio-economic plans come from Robredo, Moreno and Lacson. Let me dive deeper into the highlights of each.

THE ROBREDO PLAN
Vice President Leni Robredo was the Iffirst to make its socio-economic agenda public. Entitled “Hanapbuhay for all(Livelihood for All), the plan contains its goals, priorities and policies, all of which aim to provide a source of income for every Filipino. In a master plan, Robredo ventures to solve the nation’s fundamental problems – poverty, unemployment and income inequality. It is brilliantly crafted in that it addresses our growing debt and our budget forIfcit threats while generating wealth for individuals.

the IfThe first element of the Robredo plan is to restore confidence in the government. Restoring trust means leveling the playing field, eliminating corruption and returning to rules-based governance. With conIfence restored, investment will flow in, jobs will be created and the quality of life will improve.

I was particularly pleased that Robredo prioritized reviving the manufacturing sector. Dutertenomics and its path to economic expansion, dependent on imports and driven by debt, is simply unsustainable. We must manufacture more, produce more and export more. Only then can we restore the health of our national balance sheet.

Robredo is committed to developing new industries to sustain the economy. She is the only candidate to promise it. His plan is to make the Philippines a next-generation IT-KPO (Information technology-Knowledge process outsourcing) service center. She also identifiedIfclimate-resilient agriculture and maritime industries as pathways for growth.

On the political level, she intends to reactivate the National Competitiveness Council to recover our lost ground in terms of national competitiveness; focus on implementing the Ease of Doing Business Act; strengthen the Philippine Competition Commission; accelerating the digitalization of government; return to public-private partnerships (PPP) instead ofIfofficial development assistance (ODA); and develop MSMEs by helping them move up the technology value chain.

Education is a key part of Robredo’s agenda. It is committed to devoting 5% of GDP to education, more than double the current level. Additional budgets will be used to expand access to learning and improve STEM courses (science, engineering technology, mathematics).

THE MORENO PLAN
Isko Moreno’s socio-economic plan is called Bilis Kilos. It is a well-considered plan designed to revive the economy while addressing fundamental weaknesses in government institutions.

Mass housing is the cornerstone of the Bilis Kilos program. The intention is to allocate 1.3% of GDP to the sector, 16 times more than what was spent in 2020. The objective is to build 4.5 million homes in six years. This will be accompanied by urban planning reforms aimed at making our cities greener, more inclusive and more livable.

In the field of education, Moreno aims to raise the abilities of Filipino students to the level of their ASEAN peers. It pledges to allocate 4.3% of GDP to expanding the scope and quality of learning. In the field of health, Moreno intends to increase the salaries of public health professionals to dissuade them from leaving the country. More hospitals will be built, including those that specialize in mental illness (a neglected aspect of health care). The goal is to achieve a ratio of 1.7 beds per 1,000 Filipinos.

The development of MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) will be achieved through a four-point plan that includes increasing the credit available to entrepreneurs from 1.5 billion pesos today to 30 billion pesos; reduce the cost of doing business; facilitate doing business and help MSMEs adopt new technologies.

Moreno was the only one to cite tourism and creative industries in his plan. It aspires to increase the number of foreign visitors to 24 million per year by 2028. This will be done by strengthening tourism infrastructure and aggressive international promotions. It plans to host high-proIfinternational events to boost the country’s global proIfthe.

Creative industries include sectors such as furniture, fashion, household goods, etc. A national strategy for creative industries will be developed to make it a strong pillar of the economy. Everything will start with the promulgation of the law on creative industries.

In terms of infrastructure, electrical energy will be favored with the construction of more power plants from renewable sources. This will be complemented by the long-awaited interconnection of the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao networks. As for water, the goal is to achieve 100% water access coverage by 2026.

Construction of roads and bridges will continue alongside the expansion of national broadband.

The Moreno plan is good but it involves massive expenses. We need to know how he intends to raise the funds given that Mr. Duterte has already raised the national debt to its maximum tolerable level.

THE LACSON PLAN
Ping Lacson’s socio-economic project is interesting. If he does not specify his intentions for each sector of the economy, he dwells on the fundamental problems of the country that he identifiesIfes like hunger, unemployment, education, rising debt and the aftermath of the pandemic. For Lacson, effective governance begins with competent and honest government.

If elected, Lacson will devote his IfFirst 100 days towards internal cleansing. In other words, to rid the government of the incompetent, the corrupt and the undisciplined.

To cushion the effects of the pandemic, Lacson plans to expand the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilpino program to get the hungry and unemployed back on their feet. This serves two purposes – it helps those displaced by the pandemic while pumping consumer spending from the bottom up.

This will be followed by the professional implementation of the universal health care program. With a budget of 260 billion pesos, Lacson promises to expand health care capacity to one bed per 800 Filipinos, provide one health post for each barangay and one rural health unit for 20,000 citizens. It will also increase wages and benefits for frontline workers and healthcare workers.

Lacson plans to reform the agricultural sector by providing subsidies for seeds, fertilizers, machinery and irrigation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention anything about migrating to tech-based agriculture, which I think is the best path.

As for education, he promises to build a school in every barangay and offers free university education supplemented by a paid internship program.

Lacson is the only candidate to have promised budget reform. The idea is to stop corruption leaks that amount to 700 billion pesos a year.

That’s what four of our presidential candidates have to offer in a nutshell. May we all make an informed choice.

Andrew J. Masigan is an economist

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