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De La Serna, Chatto: The Encounter
« on: May 05, 2007, 09:00:48 AM »
Reelectionist Rep. Edgar Chatto fielded questions and issues with his challenger, former OIC Gov. Victor dela Serna during the congressional bets' episode of the Candidates' Forum sponsored by Station dyRD, dyZD and BCCTV.

Both candidates were asked what would be the first bill they would file if elected/reelected as congressman.

Dela Serna said the first House bill he would file is for the abolition of the expanded value added tax (EVAT) which he says is burdensome and oppressive to the poor. Dela Serna said that the theory of taxation is to "tax the rich more to give to the poor."

Meanwhile, Chatto said his first bill would be to provide cheaper medicines to the public. In fact, Chatto said, deliberations are ongoing in Congress for cheaper drugs to address the high cost of medicines.

Asked to respond to allegations of corruption in congress, Chatto pointed out that a perceived culture of corruption in government has dragged members of the House into alleged graft and corruption. The congressman explained that funds for projects are funneled into the implementing agencies and not through the congressmen.

Chatto said he "vehemently disagrees with the accusations and denies any involvement" to the supposed corruption in Congress as regular reporting on the use of funds is made to the Commission on Audit by the implementing agencies.

Dela Serna further alleged that each congressman received P80-million in pork barrel allocations this year. He said these were used to fund the purchase of overpriced computer units, which has become the project of choice of congressmen.

On the issue of constitutional change, Dela Serna said that there is no need to alter the Charter. He said change is needed among government officials and not the constitution as attempted by the Arroyo government through Constituent Assembly and Peoples' Initiative.

Chatto agreed with dela Serna that a change in character of government officials is needed. However, he said the constitution must be reviewed in order to respond to the present and future needs of the country.

Dela Serna also questioned how Chatto voted for Con-Ass while he is telling the public that he is for constitutional convention. Chatto said that the main reason why he joined the majority of house members to go for Con-Ass was due to the controversy raised if the two houses of congress will vote as one or separately on the proposal to convert both houses of congress into a constituent assembly.

In connection with the issue of Charter change, the congressional bets were asked regarding their stand on foreign ownership when the Cha-cha pushes through.

Chatto said agricultural and residential lands must be protected in favor of the interest of Filipinos. However, if foreign ownership will mean additional investments to help the economy and mean job opportunities for Filipinos the foreign ownership issue has to be studied well.

Dela Serna, for his part, said he has no strong position for or against foreign ownership, however, he said that the interest of Filipinos must be given foremost consideration over foreign interest.

On the issue of anti-political dynasty, Dela Serna favors a no reelection policy for public officials. Dela Serna said that relatives of public officials, up to fourth civil degree of consanguinity and affinity, must be banned from holding public office.

However, Dela Serna noted that the present anti-political dynasty bill will not be passed by both houses of Congress as congressmen and senators are more interested to hold power and share it with their family members.

On the other hand, Chatto said he has no objections in passing the anti-political dynasty law, however, the term "political dynasty" should be properly defined in the law and should be adopted if ever a constitutional convention will be convened to amend the Charter. (Kit Bagaipo)

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Published in the Bohol Chronicle - 5/2/2007

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