By Razec Jose Val A. Borja
Peace advocate Shariff Ibrahim Albani, Dan Roleda and Gerald Arcega joined their fellow senatorial candidates in accepting the invitation from the Rizal Technological University to exhibit their wits and win over youthful voters, Wednesday in the RTU Pasig Covered Court.
Taking the stage as the first senator to take on the first round, Albani caught the crowd’s attention by claiming that the Philippines is “the richest country in the world.”
Arcega also stood out by silencing the listeners by using only a few words: “Bitayin ang mga korap.”
Other notables were Elmer Francisco who called for an “Industrial Revolution” and a prioritization of Filipino people in the market while Ka Leody De Guzman is hoping for a representation of the labor force and its voice in the senate.
In the second round, the Sentoriables came face to face with a panel constituted by RTU Alums who are now lawyers, CEOs, and have become respectable individuals in their own field.
De Guzman gave his take on the issue regarding the water crisis that has recently plagued the metropolitan area by campaigning for the release of water utilities from privatization.
Toti Casino was firm in believing that Filipinos should be given the priority in employment. RJ Havellana Jr. was intent in his condemnation of the Priority Development Acceleration Fund, asking for plunderers execution via death penalty. Mars Arias is in great disfavor of the administration’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court claiming that the government is scared and have something to hide.
Ernesto Arellano was against China’s occupation of the West Philippine Sea saying that the administration’s surrender of the highly contested waters is an act of treason. Butch Valdez explained how different aspects of the government interact—ultimately getting to his point that agroforestry, while good, will not be easy as education, businesses and other facets of the nation have to adjust to maintain and sustain the shift from the status quo to the next.
Gerald Arcega was strongly against surveys broadcasted by the Social Weather System and Pulse Asia Surveys, revealing that he and his allies intend to sue the organizations. Roleda believes that China possesses the lowest interest rates for assistance in building infrastructures, expressing his support for the nation’s Memorandum of Agreement with China. Albani expressed his disapproval of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Law by saying: “Pahirap ‘yan sa tao.”
During the fast talk round, all participating senators were given placards which will express their judgment of nationally critical issues.
Some of the issues highlighted were the Commercialization of State Universities, the utilization of Smartmatic Machines in the coming May Elections, Enlargement of Motorcycle Plate Numbers and Extension of Term-limits where all 11 candidates present were unanimously against.
At one point, Albani, Casino, Havellana and Valdez where on their feet to emphasize their stand against certain issues like the concern on Political Dynasties and the Pork Barrel Funds.
In the last round, the RTU students squared up with the senators by interrogating candidates of their choice. In the end, Casino gave students recognition for asking relevant and timely issues.
The staff of RTU, represented by Elmer Martin also pledged their support for the senators who graced their event.