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What Plans Do This Year's Senatorial Bets Have For Travel?

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With only a few days until the elections, GRID takes a closer look at what this year’s senatorial candidates are saying on travel-related issues.

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With only a few days until election day, the country has its eyes on the race for the nation’s highest leaders–including the 12 seats open in the Philippine Senate.

Senators wield power that is vital in lawmaking, budgeting public funds, overseeing the implementation of legislation, and other key functions in government. Their plans and advocacies are put right at the top of the Congress’ priority list–spelling the need for voters to be critical of who they elect in May.

Travel is also political: weekend getaways and road trips are made possible by legislation that allow for these journeys, and support the local communities in each travel hotspot. From transport infrastructure to environmental protection, GRID wants to know: what are these leaders’ plans for travel, and who can truly advocate for them?

Photo by Carmen del Prado.

TRANSPORTATION

Every daily commuter just wants to get from Point A to Point B, but in the country’s mega cities, a quick commute is virtually unheard of. And while this problem seems perennial, traffic jams and inefficient commute systems not only put our roads at a standstill, but also waste precious time for travelers and daily commuters alike.

DRIVER AND COMMUTER SUPPORT

#16 Neri Colmenares (Makabayan)
#21 Chel Diokno (Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino)
  • Prioritize mass transport projects to alleviate the everyday plight of commuters and the heavy traffic in major cities
  • Call for faster implementation of the bus rapid transit (BRT) project in Metro Manila
#30 Win Gatchalian (Nationalist People's Coalition)
  • Institutionalize and modernize the Pantawid Pasada program to immediately disburse assistance to drivers and the transport sector during oil price hikes
#34 Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan)
  • Look into an expanded service contracting program for drivers of public utility vehicles, so that drivers and operators will be paid in exchange for reliable and affordable services for the riding public
#41 Ariel Lim (Independent)
  • Call for the repeal of the Fuel Excise Tax to ease fuel costs
  • Ensure efficient distribution of ayuda for drivers
#56 Jopet Sison (Aksyon Demokratiko)
  • Pass the Public Utility Employees Act to protect drivers from the pressures of the boundary system by improving congressional oversight of DOTr and professionalizing the LTO and LTFRB


TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

#22 JV Ejercito (Nationalist People's Coalition)
#29 Larry Gadon (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan)
  • Build and expand north to south railways to improve the movement of goods and people
#62 Mark Villar (Nacionalista Party)
  • Expand Build, Build, Build projects to improve connectivity and facilitate economic growth

Photo by Paco Guerrero.

TOURISM

The Philippines’ sweeping landscapes and tropical climate make it a prime destination for travelers from around the world. But our natural resources don’t do all the work: paved roads, robust businesses, and an empowered local community give life to these beloved towns and keep our tourism industry thriving.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

#31 Dick Gordon (Bagumbayan Volunteers for a New Philippines)
#40 Loren Legarda (Nationalist People's Coalition)
  • Call for the government to preserve Philippine culinary heritage and promote sustainable food security
  • Push for concerned government agencies to conduct cultural and heritage mapping
#42 Emily Mallillin (Partido Pederal ng Maharlika)
  • Empower ecotourism, agricultural industries, farmers, and laborers through local business corporations managed by Bayanihan investment development authorities under Local Government Units (LGUs)
  • Increase budget for rural, agricultural and industrial development, national and regional food sufficiency, business generation among LGUs

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.

AGRICULTURE

In the Philippines, food is a celebration. But how food gets from the farms and fields to our tables is a journey that too few people know about—one that is rife with issues in technology and innovation, mobility, and human resources. In addition to food security and support for those who put food on our table, true support for agriculture can also ultimately benefit our local food industries, tourism, and the communities around them.

AGRARIAN REFORM

#13 Bro. John Castriciones (PDP-Laban)
  • Efficiently distribute idle land across the country to farmers
  • Improve the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to enhance support to farmers
#16 Neri Colmenares (Makabayan)
  • Push for genuine agrarian reform by distributing land to farmers for free, resolving loopholes that exempt farmers from receiving land, and providing government subsidy for basic farming needs such as irrigation
#18 Leila de Lima (Liberal Party)
  • Pass a Comprehensive Land Use Act to prevent destructive developments and exploitation of land areas
  • Support farmers, fisherfolk and agricultural workers by investing in local food supplies and technology
  • Strengthen the country’s border control to curb international food smuggling and protect local markets
#37 Elmer Labog (Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan)
  • Implementation of genuine land reform and redistribution
  • Increase productivity and modernize the agricultural sector


FARMER AND FISHERFOLK PROGRAMS

#4 Teddy Baguilat (Liberal Party)
#6 Carl Balita (Aksyon Demokratiko)
  • Include agriculture in the STEM curriculum at the basic education level
  • Look into retirement policies for farmers and other workers
#19 Monsour Del Rosario (Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma)
  • Establish an Agricultural Inter-Agency Monitoring and Compliance Council (AIMCC)
  • Hold regular consultations with farmers to address the industry’s needs
  • Create new policies to develop and modernize the agriculture sector, with regular submission for transparency
#29 Larry Gadon (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan)
  • Micro-Industrialization: support regional agricultural efforts at small to medium-scale events
  • Modernize rice milling industries to increase food security and lower food prices
#31 Dick Gordon (Bagumbayan Volunteers for a New Philippines)
  • Reverse the government’s reliance on food importation by providing safety nets and competitiveness-enhancement measures in agriculture
#38 Alex Lacson (Kapatiran Party)
  • Support the Php 2 Billion fund for the Sugarcane Industry Development Act
  • Establish a one-year national dairy program similar to Thailand; provide higher income to small farmers by giving them up to two cows to supply the milk to the dairy industry (97% dairy products are imported)
  • Increase rice self-sufficiency by allotting 2,000 hectares for community rice farming in eligible provinces
  • Revive the Negros Island Region to aid in the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities in the area
#40 Loren Legarda (Nationalist People's Coalition)
  • More funding support for relevant programs under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and convergence projects under the Department of Trade and Industry-Shared Services Facilities
  • Draft post-Odette recovery and “pandemic exit plans” for Cebu fisherfolk and families
#45 Sonny Matula (Independent)
  • Create more jobs by implementing the legislated modernization of sustainable agriculture
  • Prioritize the speedy completion of the Agrarian Reform Program
#52 Manny Piñol (Nationalist People’s Coalition)

Photo by Paco Guerrero.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S RIGHTS

The Philippines is a country with many distinct regional cultures. Among them, the practices and traditions of indigenous communities have captured attention because of its direct ties to our collective history. But more than the makers of curious attractions, indigenous communities are guardians of culture in its purest form, with identities, families, and land that need protection and respect.

DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION

#4 Teddy Baguilat (Liberal Party)
  • Protect and recognize indigenous peoples (IPs) and Local Communities Conserved Areas and Territories or ICCAs
  • Provide IPs access to essential government services
  • Facilitate the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Process using the local language
#46 Marieta Mindalano-Alam (PDP-Laban)
  • Strengthen the protection, recognition, and prioritization of human rights of Indigenous Peoples


ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION

The last few years have shown that climate change and extreme weather conditions endanger not just our flora and fauna, but the vulnerable communities in our country, as well. Now more than ever, swift action is vital to curb the devastating effects of the world’s environmental crisis—and safeguard our beautiful mountains, seas, and forests for the generations to come.

PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVES

#38 Alex Lacson (Kapatiran Party)
  • Kalinga Kalikasan: encourage the private sector to adopt land for reforestation
#40 Loren Legarda (Nationalist People’s Coalition)
  • Implement projects that address waste segregation at the source, recycling, and composting
  • Promote awareness campaigns on laws that protect the environment
#42 Emily Mallillin (Partido Pederal ng Maharlika)
  • Support, provide funding for, and make mandatory the National Greening Program
  • Enhance the collection and use of sustainable energy sources
#45 Sonny Matula (Independent)
  • Create green jobs and climate jobs to protect the environment, such as employment prospects in renewable energy


RENEWABLE RESOURCES

#21 Chel Diokno (Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino)
  • Transition the transportation sector to be more sustainable and pro-user, including providing bike lanes and using more e-vehicles
#26 Luke Espiritu (Partido Lakas ng Masa)
  • Gradually phase out fossil fuels to help address the climate crisis and rising electricity costs


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

#18 Leila de Lima (Liberal Party)

Photo by Paco Guerrero.

HOLISTIC GOVERNMENT ACTION

#4 Teddy Baguilat (Liberal Party)
  • Promote a community-based stewardship of mineral resources and forest management strategy
  • Designate ICCAs as no-go zones for mining, and set minimum conditions for joint venture agreements for forest resources
  • Formulate a national forestry master plan and create a municipal forestry board
  • Revoke erroneous titles, permits, and grants within critical habitats and watershed areas, protected areas, and other key biodiversity areas
#12 Roy Cabonegro (Partido Lakas ng Masa)
  • Increase the climate change adaptation fund
  • Use government lands and IPs’ ancestral domains for forest conservation and sustainable habitats
  • Shift to 100% renewable energy for mass transportation and 100% organic agriculture through the enhancing and conservation of soil
  • Mobilize the Armed Forces and other public servants in ecosystem rehabilitation works; as well as students and 4Ps program beneficiaries in reforestation
#16 Neri Colmenares (Makabayan)
#17 David D’Angelo (Partido Lakas ng Masa)


The challenges faced by the travel and tourism industries overlap with numerous other concerns Filipinos encounter on a daily basis. While this guide aims to shed light on what this year’s senatorial bets plan for issues relating to travel, it is also crucial to go beyond promises and consider the actions these leaders have taken to truly advocate for the best interests of the Filipino people. After all, we need leaders who can carry out these plans—not just write them.

We encourage you to take the time to do research on who to vote for in this year’s elections. The COMELEC-commissioned Vote Pilipinas Website, youth-oriented The Rundown’s Senate Elections Forum Facebook page, and Rappler’s Guide to the 2022 Philippine Elections are good places to start.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is meant to provide information to help the Filipino voting public make informed decisions ahead of the May 2022 elections. Off the GRID Publishing, Inc. does not seek to endorse any specific candidates.

The writing team at GRID has also reached out to several candidates and their teams for clarification on their platforms, but none have responded.

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