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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 16, 2013
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Congressional candidates debate

Bacolod congressional candidates Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, re-electionist Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez Jr., and former councilor Lyndon Caña bared their platforms of government and tackled issues concerning the Revenue Code, loans incurred for projects, controversial bills, and graft cases, among others, during a debate sponsored by Bombo Radyo yesterday.

Both Golez and Caña are running as independent candidates, while Leonardia is running under the Nationalist People's Coalition-Grupo Progreso and is the official candidate of Team PNoy for congressman in Bacolod City.

In his opening statement, Leonardia said his agenda, together with the whole slate of Grupo Progreso is “Ipadayon ang Progreso (Let progress continue)” and that he has been in public service for so long that he believes that his wealth of experience can be put to good use if he is elected congressman.

“I think those years are going to be my advantage, because I have hands-on experience, and I have been in government service for 19 years,” Leonardia added.

Golez said that as an “outstanding” congressman he had sponsored 238 bills and resolutions making him in the top 10 to file the most number of bills passed, but did not mention how many were passed.

He claimed that he has brought in more than P4 billion worth of infrastructure projects to the city and that as a congressman, he had filed many bills that are very relevant, like the Universal Health Bill, the modernization of regional hospitals, among others.

Meanwhile, Caña said, Attorney Caña is a lawyer and pastor and was an outstanding councilor in the Philippines and that he is running on a platform of change. He also bared the plans of Atty. Caña for senior citizens, the youth, sugar industry, sports, among others.

He scored Leonardia's administration for having the biggest public debt reaching P1.4 billion, having the highest increases in taxes, permits and licenses, because of the Revised Revenue Code, and most number of cases of graft and corruption and unpaid casuals.

Caña also scored Golez's House Bill 3355 which he said will have an effect of privatization on government hospitals.

Leonardia pointed out that the city's outstanding loan is only P480 million and not P1.4 billion. A loan is an instrument for progress and that even big corporations incur loans, he said.

If they did not avail of a loan, there would not be any government center, he added.

On the increase in taxes, Leonardia said the Tax Code of the city was already 19 years old. When the city was vying for the Most Business-Friendly City award, that it won, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed concerned that Bacolod had not increased its taxes for so long, he said.

Leonardia said the issue had been settled already because the local businessmen understood, and have agreed to increased taxes.

On H.B.3355, Golez said the bill he authored does not say privatization but it provides that the President will appoint somebody who is capable and technical in managing the hospital.

Leonardia said Dr. Julius Drilon, chief of hospital of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, informed him about the development plans in the hospital that he believed possible with the help of his brother Senator Franklin Drilon with Malacañang.

He said a big tarpaulin in front of the hospital confirms that the project belongs to President Aquino.

Caña said Attorney Caña has clean public record, while Golez said he has clearance from the Ombudsman to show that he has no cases of corruption.

Leonardia said all cases filed against them have already been dismissed by the Ombudsman, and showed a pattern of political harassment. He pointed out that the same persons have been filing the case which shows that politics is behind them.

He also said the Ombudsman, in its decision, said they found nothing anomalous in the construction of the government center, and they are even wondering why there are seemingly endless cases filed against them, Leonardia said.

The government center has passed two audits, he said. If the people of Bacolod believed that these cases were true, he said they would not have re-elected him all these three consecutive terms, he said.

At one point, Leonardia told the panel that he felt he was “ginapulihan (being ganged upon)” because the two others kept hitting him only.

But he also said he was enjoying it all and that they made his day.*CGS




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