Miriam to skeptics: Why are you so nasty?

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday lashed out at skeptics who question her ability to lead the country given her health condition.

Santiago, who claims to have beaten lung cancer and is taking her third shot at the presidency, said her health has nothing to do with her bid for the country's highest post.

She assailed those who are politicizing her health condition, insisting that this should not be considered a factor in her presidential bid.

''Pilit ako na dinadala sa pulitika. Ano bang nagawa ko na kailangan ngayon na i-surrender ko ang mga records na ito? Hindi na ang well-being ng bansa ang paguusapan, kundi ang well-being ng mga kalaban ko sa pulitika,'' she said during a forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio earlier challenged the feisty senator to release her medical records to prove that she is fit for the presidency.

The doctor raised questions on whether Santiago, who revealed in July last year that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, will be able to survive a six-year term should she win in next year's elections.

Santiago, however, refused to bare her medical records, invoking her right to privacy. She also said Claudio should instead try to seek her records from the St. Luke's Medical Center.

Santiago said the fact that she can stand and speak in front of the crowd is enough proof that she is doing well.

''Besides, don't you see me? Can't you see that I can stand straight, that I can look you in the eye? What else do you want from me? Why are you so nasty? What kind of government will we grow up to if this your attitude?" she said.

''Mukhang doon, sa babaeng iyon, nagbabanta siya. Sabi niya: 'Sa kalagayan na iyan ni Miriam, 'di yan makakatapos ng 6 taon at mamamatay na iyan. Yun pala ang kampanya niya na huwag ako iboto dahil maaari na akong mamatay. Eh ngayon pa lang pwede na ako mamatay, lumabas lang ako sa building na iyan, maaaring masagasaan ako, mamamatay na rin ako."

READ: Respect Miriam's right to privacy, says Bongbong

Santiago said another reason why she is holding back from releasing her medical records is the fact that candidates are not required to disclose their medical records.

''Have you seen anything, any provision under the Philippine laws or Constitution that requires any candidate to show his or her medical records?" she said.

''Ano ang karapatan ng isang tao na naglalakad sa kalye at bigla na lang siyang tatanungin, 'May medical records ka ba?' Payag ba kayo ng ganoon?"

BETTER PH IN 2022

In her speech during the forum, Santiago was straightforward with her plans should she become president in 2016.

''If you will pardon my language, my administration will bequeath to the next president a better and stronger nation than that which I will inherit from the previous administration,'' she said.

''In 2022, I will turn over to my successor a nation more prosperous, a people more united and prouder of their leaders, and political institutions that are more stable. I commit to invest in people and public infrastructures and political institutions."

Santiago said she will make sure that economic growth under her presidency will be inclusive. She intends to do this by building more public infrastructures, which she said are crumbling under the present administration.

She also vows to invest in the youth, saying ''only if the young are educated and healthy can they benefit from growing economic prosperity."

Also in Santiago's priorities are the agriculture sector, the passage of the freedom of information law, reforming the country's tax system, and the continuation and streamlining of the government's conditional cash transfer program.

She also wants to strengthen the country's political party system to make it easier to hold elected officials more accountable. She said this can be fixed by allowing political parties to use public funds for their operations.

''It has been 30 years since we restored democracy yet political institutions remain shaky. There exist no stable political parties in the real sense of the word, even my own,'' she said.

Santiago founded the People's Reform Party (PRP).

''People cannot hold accountable a political party for the mistakes of its candidates because it disappears as soon the offending elected official leaves office."

Santiago said she will ''hit the ground running'' on Day 1 of her presidency.

''There will be no shut down in government operations,'' she said.

''We will keep government deficits manageable by keeping it 3 percent of the gross domestic product even as we aggressively build public infrastructures."