PRESIDENTIAL candidates for the coming May elections once again presented their platforms in a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) Monday.

In attendance were Senator Noynoy Aquino, televangelist Eddie Villanueva, environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, Olongapo City Councilor JC delos Reyes, Gilbert Teodoro Jr., Senator Dick Gordon, and Senator Jamby Madrigal.

Former president Joseph Estrada and Senator Manny Villar were no-shows. Villar is in a statistical tie with Aquino in the surveys while Estrada is in a far third.

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One of the highlights of the forum is the five priority measures that they will implement in the first 100 days.

“I will overhaul the Commission on Audit, the Department of Justice, given more teeth to anti-corruption campaign, created the RP Commission for Peace, Development and Progress and implement transparency and accountability of policy which will start with the Office of the President,” – Villanueva.

“Number one, institutionalization of universal participative healthcare scheme. Number two, basic education reform roadmap, institutionalize education loan program; reassessment of peace agenda. My first order will be to appoint cabinet secretaries,” – Teodoro.

“On healthcare and education – values based programs. On labor – study contractualizatoion. On Peace and Order – total gun ban,” – delos Reyes.

“Establish new cabinet secretary post for civil society relationships, Executive order connected with NAPC, as well as Office of Muslim Affairs, Executive Order to run after private armies, clean up Customs and BIR and re-organize National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,” – Perlas.

“Level playing filed for Filipinos in RP and inclusive growth. Immediate audit on all government agencies especially GSIS, SSS and AFP retirement fund. Review foreign debt. Review mining and logging permites. Cancel all midnight deals done by Secretary Ramos. . Order sweeping crackdown on smuggling, immediate resumption of peace talks with NDF. Review bilateral treaties,” – Madrigal.

“Policy of courtesy, efficiency in government. Encourage efficiency, maximize revenues, minimize expenses. 24-hour government hotline. Address problem on energy. Boost tourism. Instruct vocational education to be intensified. Review electoral system,” – Gordon.

“Appoint cabinet secretaries. Rationalize or streamline bureaucracy. Organize a budget review. Establish a mechanism for all pending issues like Hello Garci, ZTE. Establish Commission for Charter Change and convene Jelac,” – Aquino.

Aquino, Gordon, and Teodoro meanwhile supported the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) while Madrigal and delos Reyes were against it. Perlas is still undecided.

Only Villanueva and Madrigal were in favor of the re-imposition of death penalty. The other presidentiables were against it.

In favor to remove or reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) were Aquino, Madrigal, Perlas, and delos Reyes while Teodoro, Villanueva, and Gordon opposed it.

Against nuclear power were Madrigal and Perlas. Delos Reyes, Villanueva, Gordon, and Teodoro supported it while Aquino is still undecided.

Everyone except for Gordon and Teodoro were in favor of the anti-political dynasty bill.

Again, only Gordon and Teodoro were against reopening investigations into the 2004 election scandal involving President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Everyone was against the allocation of government funds for free artificial contraceptives except for Aquino and Perlas who were still undecided.

Other topics discussed were on how they will resolve the long-running territorial dispute with China, three programs they will cut in the first six months, poll automation, and their positions on the detention of the Morong 43 and their views on removing Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

On a lighter note, none of the candidates said they are using Feng Shui in their campaign, in light of the Chinese New Year Sunday. (Angela Casauay/Sunnex)