Thursday, March 01, 2007

Televise and broadcast live planned debate between GO and Team Unity; candidates should state and defend stand on growing influence of the military

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Televise and broadcast live planned debate between GO and Team Unity; candidates should state and defend stand on growing influence of the military over the civilian bureaucracy

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said the planned debate between the Genuine Opposition and Team Unity should be covered and broadcast live in all television networks to enable the greatest number of Filipinos to witness it. He said that the projected venue of Plaza Miranda was not big enough to accommodate the assuredly massive number of Filipinos who will want to hear the candidates defend their respective platforms and positions on important economic and political issues. He also said that the debate should be conducted in Filipino.

"I predict that if this debate pushes through, the audience will be more massive than the one that watches Manny Pacquiao in his international fights," he said. "A genuine debate on crucial issues affecting the economic welfare and political rights of Filipinos would give voters a better understanding of the candidates and what they really stand for. The elections would be less of a popularity contest."

The detained lawmaker said that Team Unity will most likely be immediately put on the defensive. "There is no way that Team Unity candidates will be able to stay that the live of Filipinos have improved in the last three years, not even in the last six years. They might be booed right off the stage, especially if the venue is in Plaza Miranda in Quiapo where so many of our kababayans toil 24-7 but still seeing no hope of improvement in their lives because of increasing costs of living, high taxes, and low salaries and wages. There is no defending the Arroyo administration's claims that the economy is on an upswing(I¡½(Bjoblessness is still on the rise, electricity costs are still hitting the roof, and wages are still pegged to the floor."

Beltran also said that candidates should also be made to deliver their stand individually or collectively on the issue of relentless extrajudicial killings and the generally worsening human rights situation in the country. He said that there is an undeniable strengthening in the influence of the military and militarists in the Arroyo government, and that this accounts for the deterioration of the human rights situation.

"So far, very few of the candidates from both GO and Team Unity have spoken up and issued statements on the Melo Commission Report and the assertions of United Nations Human Rights Commission special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are behind the killings and abduction of human rights workers and members of progressive party-lists and people's organizations."

"The public deserves to know what the candidates propose to do to address the issue of the killings and the evident culpability of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the AFP's commander-in-chief. The candidates should not shy or shrink away from the issue of the killings of journalists and political activists. They will either condemn the AFP or condone the AFP's acts of violence and atrocity against civilians. The recent passage of the anti-terrorism bill also needs to be addressed and how come candidates from both Team Unity and GO approved the bill when the measure poses a serious threat to civil and human rights of Filipinos regardless of what name they use for it," he said.

Finally, Beltran said that among the issues that candidates should be made to defend their stand on are the issues of an immediate P125 acrosss-the-board wage hike for workers, a P3,000 salary increase for government employees, regressive taxes, high electricity rates and increasing oil prices.#


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