Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao wants self-sustaining, debt-free government

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Manny Pacquiao is hoping for a Philippines that is self-sufficient and free from mounting multitrillion-peso foreign debt, something that he says he will realize if he is elected president in the May 9 elections.

In an interview with veteran broadcasters titled “Presidential Job Interview” aired over radio station dzRH, Pacquiao said he wants the Bureau of Internal Revenue under the Department of Finance to plug leakages and collect more taxes.

“My focus is for us not to borrow any more money. We have to stand on our own and strengthen our revenue income of our government so that we will no longer borrow money from international financial institutions every year,” he told the panel of journalists.

The presidential aspirant representing the Promdi organization vowed that this would be his policy if he makes it to Malacañang.

In a related development, the senator also reiterated that having no means to pursue college education should not limit a poor person’s desire to obtain a degree in his chosen field, and the government should help these students in achieving their life goals.

“Even if they are still undergraduates, they still have a chance of improving their lot in life,” Pacquiao, known for his rags-to-riches narrative, said as he vowed to “strengthen the tertiary education equivalency programs” for deserving students.

The Filipino global boxing champion promised that should he win, his administration will “open new opportunities for undergraduate Filipinos who have gained work experience to merit an advancement in their professions.”

The billionaire-senator was referring to former president Fidel V. Ramos’ Executive Order 330 issued in 1996, whose mandate is to expand the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program.

The ETEEAP is a comprehensive educational assessment program on the tertiary level that recognizes, accredits and gives equivalencies to knowledge, skills, attitudes and values gained by individuals from their relevant work.

Pacquiao said making the program more accessible to all would help millions of underprivileged but deserving Filipinos who are deprived of education due to poverty.

He shared that as a young boy, he had to quit school so he could work and help his family.

The presidential aspirant obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree, major in Local Government Administration, from the University of Makati through a similar program called College of Continuing, Advanced and Professional Studies (CCAPS).

He said that while these equivalency and open university programs are offered in some universities, the cost is very prohibitive and the number of deputized higher education institutions needs to be expanded nationwide.

He added that to encourage more people to avail themselves of the program, he would ask CHED to “deputize more schools” and find ways to make them more accessible without sacrificing the quality of those who are given equivalency diplomas.

The government can also provide incentives to corporations and other business establishments that sponsor employees for them to avail themselves of the program.

He added that the government could also shoulder the fees if their employers cannot afford them.

The ETEEAP is being implemented through deputized higher education institutions that shall award the appropriate college degree as an alternative education program for Filipinos who are at least high school graduates, but have worked for at least five years in the field or industry related to the academic program in which they are obtaining an equivalency.

Only 7,240 individuals have obtained accreditation through the ETEEAP since its inception.

Pacquiao said there are so many talented and very reliable Filipinos who are stuck in their chosen professions due to their failure to get a diploma.

No spare tire

Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza will not allow himself to be the government’s so-called spare tire should his Promdi team with Pacquiao win in the coming elections.

“I will be a super able assistant of the president. That is the role that I will serve as vice president,” Atienza told dzBB.

“I will request (Pacquiao) to give me a space at Malacañang, which should be beside the president’s office,” he added.

The former Manila mayor and one-time environment secretary, however, made it clear that he would not want it any other way, if ever he makes it as vice president and the chief executive who wins is from another political party.

Atienza did not mince words and expressed his disgust over two very specific candidates, Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, both of whom are running for president.

“If others will become president, I’ll be more specific: Bongbong Marcos, I don’t want to be vice president. If the president is Leni Robredo, I would rather not be VP. I would rather just retire and be on my own,” Atienza said.

The veteran legislator had earlier asked President Duterte what happened to his promise in July 2016 during his first state of the nation address, where he vowed to go after powerful businessmen who have been operating Laguna de Bay.

“I don’t know why President Duterte did not do anything to deliver his campaign promise,” Atienza, who represents Buhay party-list, said in a statement.

“I will never forget his first SONA, where he promised to rid and clean Laguna de Bay of these fish pens and fish cages because this important body of water is owned by each and every Filipino, and everyone should benefit from it, not just the rich and powerful,” he added.

Atienza issued the statement in the wake of reports that Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced that the country would be importing 600,000 metric tons of galunggong (round scad) or mackerel from other countries due to shortage in local supplies.

“How can the Philippines, rich in water resources, fish and aquaculture, now be importing fish? I will not be surprised if the fish we are importing all came from our own Philippine waters! Can you not see the irony?” Atienza asked.

“Fish that is caught in our waters are brought to China and then Chinese businessmen offer the same to sell to the Philippines and our government is buying it at a higher cost. It’s ironic, but only with corruption can it happen,” he said.

For the lawmaker, only a stupid government will allow it to continue to happen.

“Clearly, government is not doing its job, and the problem of corruption is causing this shortage,” Atienza said.

“That is why I am hoping that the next president will address this problem. I know a presidency under Manny Pacquiao will do what is right by cleaning all our water bodies,” he added.

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