Competition, Inclusive Growth Top Liberal Agenda

“We need to ensure that there is vibrant competition between our industries, and this means a discussion of the anti-trust legislation. This is in line with the commitment of our government to pursue a level playing field, and sustain economic growth for inclusive development,” said Batanes Rep. Dina Abad at a forum entitled Liberal Challenges for 2013-2016 on 13 June 2013 in Greenhills, San Juan.

Abad shared that the anti-trust bill had reached to the second reading in the last congress. She encouraged her fellow members in the House of Representatives who were present at the forum to revive it in the 16th Congress. Abad also lauded the passage of the sin tax law. “We showed that we are serious about reforming the tax structure, that we can create a more competitive environment especially in an industry that has been monopolized for many years.”

There were several pending bills in the last congress that Abad hopes to be completed, among which are the Forest Management Act and the National Land Use Policy. Abad urged the review of the controversial mining act, and to look at the privatization of public utilities. She mentioned that social protection programs should be continuously monitored and assessed.

Former House Deputy Speaker and now Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco stressed that government has to be relevant to the people. “We are starting to see a paradigm shift because campaigns like Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap (‘If there is no corruption there is no poverty’) have not merely become slogans, but people feel their true meaning,” said Climaco. Climaco successfully fought the entry of the Jaloslos political clan in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The forum highlighted how the reforms in the liberal government have brought back pride to Filipinos. “Let us involve our local communities in governance. Give them a sense of ownership and in turn, a sense of pride,” remarked Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog. Similarly, non-governmental organizations should be given space to contribute to politics. “Members of the civil society should continue their political activism so that more open discourse on politics and development will take root,” said Liberal Party Vice President for Women Vicky Garchitorena. LP set up Mamamayang Liberal (‘Liberal Citizens’) composed of citizens from different sectors of society (labor, farmers, urban poor, women, youth). “Mamamayang Liberal is a good innovation to harness support for the party and its program. Its changing the face of politics and transforming LP into a people’s party,” commented Garchitorena.

The event was also a farewell to LP Director-General Gladys Sta. Rita. “Gladys’ excellent managerial skills will be missed,” expressed Jules Maaten, Country Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) who organized the activity. “Isn’t this a great time to be a liberal in the Philippines. The results of the mid-term elections were remarkable and LP can use the next three years to strengthen the party. Then in 2016, LP can offer the electorate the choice of a freer life full of opportunity,” said Maaten.

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