MANILA,  January 12, 2004 (STAR) By Atty. Romeo G. Roxas - First part: In this season of political campaign for the May 2004 elections it is apparent that personalities have taken precedence over platforms, qualifications and issues. Popularity and mass appeal are the overwhelming criteria for presenting oneself as a candidate before the people. But as important as the candidates’ attributes or lack of it, is his or her plan of governance should he or she win. A wise and discerning electorate must scrutinize the party’s and the candidate’s platform of government.

This writer, though not a candidate himself, wishes to forward and present before the people a doable platform of government that, if followed, will surely lead the country through the road of economic progress for the next six years While most, if not all, platforms that will be presented to the people in this campaign will invariably include the usual motherhood statements and rosy promises that the people hear every election time but which are not implemented when the party or candidate comes into power, the vision for governance here presented is no empty promise as it contains not just the program of what is to be done but, more importantly, of how it is to be accomplished. This platform is doable precisely because it includes the mechanism to finance the program, which is the most vital component of any project, if it is to be viable at all.

By way of synthesis, an ideal platform of government must have the following program and component: job for the jobless; land for the landless; home for the homeless; food security; access to quality education; affordable health care; environmental protection and enhancement; development of all infrastructure and utilities all over the country; development of new master-planned towns and cities; maintenance of peace and order; and the creation of a favorable economic environment for Filipino companies and businessmen to thrive, prosper and grow.

Jobs For The Jobless/Access To Quality Education

A government is truly successful only if it has created the most favorable economic environment whereby all able-bodied citizens have jobs. In other words, a situation of full-employment.

In order to create jobs, government in partnership with the private sector must embark on a massive construction and development of all the infrastructure and utilities all over the country. The Philippines as yet being largely undeveloped in the countryside, it is essential that we build more roads, highways, bridges, seaports, airports, and a mass transit system to interconnect the entire country through land, sea and air and to be able to efficiently move goods and people anywhere in the archipelago. As critical as well is the construction of schools, hospitals, markets, government buildings and the establishment of adequate water, power and telecommunications facilities.

These projects and undertakings will naturally produce tremendous jobs and employment requirements that our citizenry and labor force can readily supply. Perforce, our labor force must be equipped with the skills and technical knowledge to do the job properly.

In this regard, government should see to it that our people are adequately trained and skilled in their respective lines of discipline. Corollary thereto, our educational system, including that of adult education, should be formed in such a manner that everybody shall have ready access to quality education through a "study-now pay-later" program. Under this scheme everyone can choose his dream profession, acquire the knowledge and skills thereon through the "study-now pay-later" program, and then subsequently pay-off his educational expenses as he becomes gainfully employed.

Then can we truly have a literate and educated citizenry with no one being deprived of quality education and training by reason of poverty.

Land For The Landless/Home For The Homeless

In a country such as ours where there is so much idle and unproductive public land, it is a wonder that there are so many squatters and people with neither land nor homes of their own. A multitude of informal settlers congest themselves in the urban centers yet there is so much public land in the countryside waiting to be worked on and be made productive.

A vital component, then, of an ideal platform of government is a program of "land for the landless" and "home for the homeless". By this we do not mean the present agrarian reform program where private land is taken by government and distributed to the farmers, while the landowners are paid only in bonds of 20-year maturity such that he cannot even turn around and invest in vital businesses. The "land for the landless" program we are espousing is for the idle, public lands in the countryside which we have so much of to be sold at nominal prices and at a 30-year long-term period to the mass of our landless brothers and sisters so that they can finally have a patch of land of their own which they can make productive and on which they can build their own homes, again through government financing on a long-term, low-interest credit basis.

This way, government is able to reverse urban migration by attracting the squatters and informal settlers in the congested metropolis and returning them to the countryside where they can now live and work on their own land.

Next week’s article will discuss the other essential components of the master-planned platform of government as well as its most vital component, that is, financing.

You may write your comments / suggestions at 15/F Equitable Bank Tower, Paseo de Roxas, Makati City or through e-mail at HYPERLINK "mailto:rgroxas@lawyer.com" rgroxas@lawyer.com)

(Editor’s note: Atty. Roxas is writing a limited series of articles dealing with financial matters and other important business topics. He is available for speaking engagements on the subject matter of his articles.)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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