I am deeply saddened by the passing of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr. Since his appointment in May 2017, Espenilla has provided expertise, calmness, and stability to our monetary and economic policy. Our condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.
For the 2019 midterm elections, the Nacionalista Party has drafted a slate composed of three distinguished women — incumbent Senator Cynthia Villar, Rep. Pia Cayetano, and Governor Imee Marcos. The 2019 Nacionalista Party senatorial slate is lean and mean.
The ticket is headed by incumbent Senator Cynthia Villar who championed the environment, pushed for agricultural development, went after rice cartels and smugglers, and protected our OFWs. As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food as well as the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, she worked for the establishment of 1,955 farm schools all over the country supported by TESDA.
Her accomplishments include 16 landmark pieces of legislation on agriculture which she authored and have been signed into law including the Sugar Industry Development Act, RA 10654 – an act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and RA 10845 – an act declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage.
Former Senator and current member of the House of Representatives Pia Cayetano is an eloquent defender of women’s and children’s rights. Among the bills she sponsored are the Sin Tax Reform Act that raised duties on cigarettes and liquor, and the Graphic Health Warning Act that required cigarette packages to bear photos of the hazardous effects of smoking. She is also the principal author of the measure seeking up to 105 days of paid maternity leave which the President has recently signed into law.
Governor Marcos has received accolades for leading her province towards development. Her flagship program for young people, Sirib Express, offered scholarships and leadership training. The program was awarded among 10 Galing Pook Outstanding Local Governance Programs in 2015 and soon evolved into the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO). Her employment campaign, Task Force Trabaho, generated over 50,000 jobs; provincial unemployment fell to 4.2%, and by 2016 Ilocos Norte had the lowest poverty incidence rate (15%) in Region One.
The President announced last week his preferred senatorial candidates. Predictably, he endorsed the five candidates of the ruling party. But as president of the Nacionalista Party, I am thankful that President Duterte also endorsed our three official candidates — Senator Villar, Representative Cayetano, and Governor Marcos. In addition, I am glad that pre-election surveys consistently show our three candidates in the Magic 12.
These three superb women public servants can stand on their own record but the presidential nod will surely enhance their chances. The NP itself plans to support candidates from other parties. We will support senatorial candidates who are capable, with good track records and are supportive of the agenda of the President.
The last criterion is important. We have, at the onset, supported President Duterte and his agenda to pursue a change in our country. In the first three years of his presidency, he has done so in spectacular fashion — criminality, peace, foreign affairs, corruption, and the economy. We will support candidates who will continue to back this vision for the nation.
This is the crucial issue of this election — continuity. We need to sustain the gains of the Duterte administration. Much has been done because of the tremendous political will of the President. But the job is not yet finished; much needs to be done. We cannot go back. We need to push forward.