Presidential bets urged to pursue countryside development

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday urged candidates for president to include countryside development in their platforms in order to empower the provinces outside the nation’s capital, especially those where there is little to no infrastructure projects or businesses.

“I hope this will be part ng plataporma ng ating mga presidentiables, hindi lang y’ung mga sasabihin nila, ‘Dito sa Samar, mahirap.’ ‘Dito sa Cebu, maunlad,’” Cayetano said in a media interview on February 16, 2022.

(I hope countryside development will be a part of the platforms of our presidentiables so they will no longer have to say “Here in Samar, life is difficult.” “Here in Cebu, it is prosperous.”)

The former House Speaker, who is gunning for a return to the Senate in the May elections, said he is hoping the next administration will have a nationwide program and roadmap to “finally implement” countryside development, a program he has been pushing in Congress in the last 10 years.

“Sana mayroon talagang nationwide program and may roadmap para magawa na ‘to finally,” he said.

(I hope there will be a nationwide program and a roadmap so we can finally implement this.)

Cayetano also said it is important not only that the budget allocation be equally divided among all provinces across the Philippines but that the entire process of construction, including the planning and bidding stages, be conducted at the local government level to prevent corruption.

“Napakaimportante not only do we [distribute] y’ung pondo, like y’ung Build, Build, Build, but ako’y naniniwala, dapat y’ung planning at bidding, dun na rin gawin sa lugar nila. Kasi kung taga-roon ang gagawa, iwas corruption ‘to kasi ang local media, mababantayan nang husto,” he added.

(It is important not only that we distribute the funding to the provinces, like the budget allocation for the government’s Build, Build, Build program, but that the planning and bidding stages of the projects be conducted in their respective local governments to prevent corruption as the local media will be able to scrutinize them.)

Cayetano has been pushing for countryside development in Congress for the last 10 years, citing federalism and its benefits to the regions outside of Metro Manila as one of the reasons he decided to run with President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.

But he said Constitutional amendments, which are required to change the country’s system of government, are not needed to push countryside development since further devolution and decentralization can still be implemented.

“Kahit hindi natin palitan y’ung Constitution, we can continue to devolve, to decentralize, and to empower y’ung mga provinces natin, lalo y’ung mga island provinces,” he said.

(Even if we do not amend the Constitution, we can continue to devolve, decentralize, and empower our provinces, especially our island provinces.)

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