Get to know senatorial aspirants Agnes Escudero, Ding Generoso, Romulo Macalintal, and Butch Valdes

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From left to right: licensed professional teacher Agnes Escudero, former spokesperson for the consultative Committee on Charter Change Conrado “Ding” Generoso, election lawyer Atty. Romulo Macalintal, and former undersecretary of the Department of Education Antonio “Butch” Valdes. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — For the third installment of CNN Philippines’ senatorial forums, four aspirants graced the stage: licensed professional teacher and former secretary of the Tribal Government of the Philippines in Bukidnon Agnes Escudero, former spokesperson for the Consultative Committee on Charter Change Conrado “Ding” Generoso, election lawyer Atty. Romulo Macalintal, and former undersecretary of the Department of Education and co-founder of the Citizen National Guard Antonio “Butch” Valdes.

During the forum, the candidates were asked several questions regarding key issues affecting the country, from how they will address the traffic situation in Metro Manila, to their stand on lowering the age of criminal liability, to their solutions to the country’s drug problem. The four were also given a chance to talk about their previous work of service to the Filipino people, as well as their respective advocacies.

BTS-3.jpg Agnes Escudero. Photo by JL JAVIER

BTS-1.jpg Ding Generoso. Photo by JL JAVIER

For Escudero, it is Indigenous Peoples’ rights, barangay industrialization, and women’s welfare. In her opening statement, she pointed to her history of being involved with IPs, saying “I’ve been with the indigenous communities since 1994 … mas nakita ko ang sitwasyon ng mga nasa bundok. I was also a project coordinator of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, that’s why I was able to connect funding support from the NCCA to different tribal communities.”

For Generoso, federalism is his main advocacy and he believes that federalism can strengthen the economy. Talking about what is included in the constitution drafted by the Consultative Committee, he says “Pagka ‘yung ating mga ibang rehiyon outside Metro Manila ay binigyan natin ng kapangyarihan na magdetermina ng kanilang ekonomiya sa buong rehiyon, at mabigyan ng kapangyarihan na mangolekta ng ibang taxes … makakalikha tayo ng ekonomiyang progresibo sa mga rehiyon.”

BTS-2.jpg Atty. Romulo Macalintal. Photo by JL JAVIER

BTS-5.jpg Butch Valdes. Photo by JL JAVIER

Macalintal dubs himself as “Mr. Senior Citizen” and says “Ako rin ay tagapagtanggol ng senior citizens and Persons With Disability.” On the first bill he will pass if elected, he talks about taking care of his fellow senior citizens by imposing higher discounts on medicines and pensions. “At 70 [years old] kailangan 30 percent discount. Pag dating namin ng 80 years old, dapat maging 40 percent ang discount, at pag dating namin ng 90 pataas, ang discount namin ay 50 percent sa gamot at medical services.”

Valdes’ advocacies include fighting electoral fraud, prosecution of people involved in the Dengvaxia mess, and lowering the cost of electricity and water. When asked about the Dengvaxia controversy, he says “It is clear to us that there were culprits in this decision to inoculate 1 million children, and on the basis of a vaccine that was obviously not fully tested and was being recommended to be applied only on a limited basis, inutos po ni Noynoy Aquino na inoculate ng 1 million children. If that’s the case, then the responsibility and the onus lies on him. And he has to be responsible for this.” 

Yes or No sen forum.jpg

Prior to the forum, CNN Philippines Life asked the candidates a few questions on what pushed them to run for senate, as well as the principles they live by. Once more, it is evident that for most candidates running in this year’s elections, including these four, they believe in doing the right thing and seeking peace and justice for Filipinos.

Portrait-3.jpg Photo by JL JAVIER

Agnes Escudero

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is do the thanksgiving ritual with the Indigenous People.

I knew I was called to become a public servant when I started being with the Indigenous Peoples. Kasi talagang nung nag ikot-ikot na ako sa mga different mountains, I felt like kailangan ma-lift ang kanilang mga issues and concerns sa higher level.

The first bill I will file if elected is Department of Indigenous Peoples.

I want to become a senator because I wanted to give more projects and livelihood programs to the Indigenous Peoples, and to the women and children, of course.

A principle that I always live by is Man's moral concept. The moral of a man is against all earthly vices.

Portrait-12.jpg Photo by JL JAVIER

Conrado Ding” Generoso

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is to file a resolution calling for a referendum on federalism.

I knew I was called to become a public servant many years ago, when I started writing for a newspaper.

The first bill I will file if elected is the same [as my first answer]. The referendum on federalism.

I want to become a senator because I want to change the way things are in the country.

A principle that I always live by is always do what is right.

Portrait-7.jpg Photo by JL JAVIER

Romulo Macalintal

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is file a bill for the senior citizens.

I knew I was called to become a public servant when I filed my COC.

The first bill I will file if elected is the bill for the senior citizens, for their rights and their benefits.

I want to become a senator because I want to serve the people.

A principle that I always live by is I always believe in God.

Portrait-19.jpg Photo by JL JAVIER

Antonio “Butch” Valdes

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is celebrate.

I knew I was called to become a public servant last year.

The first bill I will file if elected is a review of the EPIRA [Electric Power Industry Reform Act] law, with the possibility of suspending it. EPIRA law has to do with us paying the highest electricity rates in the world. I think this is an onerous and immoral law that we have lived with for the past two decades, at the very least. I think our people deserve a respite from the electricity charges that are highest in the world, when we're the lowest in terms of income generation. The biggest burden of every family right now is electricity rates.

I want to become a senator because I want to help my fellow Filipinos. I think they have been suffering too long because of certain programs and policies that create this situation of unending poverty.

A principle that I always live by is truth, justice, peace, and development.