MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Friday defended his campaign platforms that were described as "ambitious" amid the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the Manila mayor's campaign promises: build 17 regional hospitals, provide a P30-billion loan fund for small businesses, and construct 1 million buildings for 4.5 million Filipinos in 6 years.
"Itong mga pangarap na ito ay mangyayari sa isang mainam, masinop at episyenteng pamamahala," he said during the "Panata sa Bayan: The KBP Presidential Candidates Forum."
(These dreams can be done through effective, clean and efficient governance.)
Domagoso said his optimism on accomplishing his campaign promises despite the Philippines' P11.5-trillion debt is rooted in his experience as mayor of the capital city.
"Noong pumasok ako sa Maynila, walang kapera-pera halos. Zero, literally," he said.
(When I entered Manila, we did not have funds. Zero, literally.)
"May pandemiya pero lahat ng ipinangako naming halos imposible sa Maynila, nangyari. Yung 10 taong pangako nangyari sa loob ng 2 taon," he said.
(We accomplished all out nearly impossible promises in Manila despite the pandemic. We accomplished in 2 years what we promised to do in 10 years.)
Domagoso was referring to the 7 hospitals, and some 1,600 housing units that were built during his first term as Manila Mayor.
The capital city also saw the rise of a more modern Manila Zoo and several other parks and open spaces in the city.
Domagoso earlier said that these were funded through loans from government bank and taxes thanks to a 24.83 percent increase in new business registrations in Manila.
PPP, RECLAMATION AS A SOURCE OF GOVT INCOME
Domagoso said he is open to reclamation projects and other public-private partnership projects to create more jobs and generate more funds for the government.
"Kung talagang naghahanap tayo ng pambayad ng utang, kita at trabaho, kailangan natin itong (reclamation projects) i-push through because this is a new source of income without given burden to our tax payers," Domagoso said.
(If we are really looking for funds to pay our debt, revenue and jobs, we need to push through with reclamation projects because this is a new source of income without given burden to our tax payers.)
"But at the same time, we must obey, follow all regulation with regard to protecting our environment," he said.
Foreign investors will be given a "prescribed time to sustain their investment" but the Philippines will continue to prioritize its national interests, he said.
"Ang importante, may maibigay tayong trabaho. Post-pandemic, kailangan ng tao ng trabaho, kailangan ng tao ng hanapbuhay," he said.
(What is important is for us to provide jobs. Post-pandemic, people need jobs, they need livelihood.)
The Aksyon Demokratiko president thumbed down proposals to create new agencies that would oversee the development of tourism destinations, another source of revenue for the government.
"There is enough law already to address our tourism... Let us not fix something that is not destroyed," he said when asked if he would sign a law creating the Boracay Island Development Authority.
Domagoso said he would instead push for the establishment of "agro-industrial zones" and other developments outside the National Capital Region.
"Food security is of utmost importance... We will connect farmers not only through roads but also through cold chain facilities," he said.
A Domagoso administration will also invest in technology to improve the country's disaster response and to help Filipino start up firms gain ground in the tech industry, the Manila mayor said.
"During disaster time, communication is the key so those people on the ground can talk to each other and update each other on the real situation," he said.
The government should acquire gadgets that will provide weather and disaster-related "analytics so that we would be ahead" of any eventualities during calamities, he said.
Under Domagoso's 10-point agenda, the government will increase its spending on research and development by 2 percent, and hike the education budget to 4.3 percent of the gross domestic product "to improve student-teacher ratio," especially in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"My dream is to be able to produce a uniquely Filipino unicorn from among tech start ups," he said.
All these is possible if the national government will pursue good governance and implement an open data policy, he said.
"We must make public data open, freely downloadable and available," he said.
"We will simplify government process and do this through automation... Lesser human discretion, lesser corruption."
Domagoso ended his pitch by saying a catchphrase he usually blurts in his pre-campaign tours: the City of Manila is his prototype.
"I can get things done. May resulta, may pruweba (We have results, we have proof)," he said.