Susan Ople is running for the oldest party in the Philippines, the Nacionalista Party. She is the daughter of then Secretary of Foreign Affairs Hon. Blas Ople. Her experience in politics includes serving as the Undersecretary of Labor and Employment under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She is currently the president of the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC), which is primarily concerned in assisting OFWs in distress. She is active in radio where she is an anchor for Bantay OFW at DZXL’s Tatak RMN network and Global Pinoy in DWIZ 882 AM.
Susan Ople is a graduate of AB Communications at the University of Santo Tomas. She took up her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She graduated in 1999 and was also a recipient the Josephine Vernon Award for Excellence in Communication.
Her platform is centered on labor reforms and OFW issues and welfare. Ople’s plans for the Senate may be summarized into five points:
Seek modernization of POEA, OWWA, and ATNU (Assistance-to-Nationals Units of embassies and consulates to ensure that OFWs are well taken cared of from departure, settling and most especially during times of crises.
Seek passage of an anti-age discrimination at the workplace law in order to facilitate a culture where abilities are given more importance than age. This is essential in order to level the playing field for those vying for employment.
Pass a law that would exempt OFWs from paying terminal fees and airport fees. In addition, such law would also ensure a complete accounting of terminal fees that were not refunded from February 1 to the present.
Create a Victims’ Assistance Program for Human Trafficking Survivors in order to help them reintegrate to their communities, rebuild their lives and also to be able to seek and restore justice.
Institute an SSS pension benefits hike, together with plans to lower income taxes for low income workers and abolish the Job-Order system in government.
Overall, Susan Ople is one senator who puts primacy on workers’ rights and welfare. She provides clear bases of policies that she intends to pass if she wins a seat in the Senate. She has remained consistent with her concern for OFWs from her first candidacy until the present.
JOEL VILLANUEVA, TESDA MAN
Emmanuel Joel Villanueva, otherwise known as TESDA Man is running under the banner of the Liberal Party. He was the Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) from 2010 to 2015.
Joel Villanueva’s educational background includes having graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Major in Economics in 1996. He then pursued graduate studies in Business Administration from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Villanueva finished a doctorate degree in Humanities from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 2013.
He is known for his stand against corruption. Having served three terms as a representative for the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption from 2001 to 2010 he began his career as politician through his efforts and valuable participation in passing Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act. This law aims to cut bureaucratic red tape by requiring the government to respond efficiently and immediately to public requests. He was also instrumental in the passage of RA No. 9184 or the Public Procurement Process. This law provided for the procurement process to be modernized, standardized and regulated in order to eradicate instances of corruption. Villanueva is also consistent in the call for added incentives for the Public Attorney’s Office in order to boost their morale making them more efficient in assisting the poor in legal matters.
Joel “TESDA Man” Villanueva’s senatorial bid is largely based on his experience in TESDA. He gives emphasis on the importance of generating jobs and employment for the Filipino people in order to generate prosperity. His platform is centered on what he abbreviated as T.E.S.D.A. – Trabaho, Edukasyon, Serbisyo, Dignidad, Asenso. He mentioned that quality education and worker’s dignity would also be central to his platform, and “Kung walang quality education, ‘di po tayo magtatagumpay… At bale wala ang tagumpay kung hindi umaasenso ang ating kababayan.”
TESDA Man likened his senatorial bid to applying for a job. He sees the senate seat as his employment and the Filipino people as his employers or his boss.
In choosing the best candidate to vote for, it is always important to look at both their integrity and professionalism. In terms of integrity, it is important to ask ourselves this question, “Is my candidate consistent in the issues that he or she is fighting for?” Campaign periods and platforms have the tendency to be a hodgepodge of trending and popular issues in order to appeal to more people. Appealing to more people, would of course mean garnering more votes. Therefore issues are used as a means to get votes to the end of winning elections. A candidate that has integrity is one that remains consistent with the issues they are championing – this is a reflection of the genuine care for the sectors, issues and plights that they are actually fighting for.
Genuine care and concern would not bring about substantive change. Integrity is not enough to make a leader great, that’s where professionalism would come in. In this area, it is vital for us to ask, “Did my candidate deliver? Is my candidate capable of delivering as promised?” This is by no means limited to their educational background. One can serve efficiently even without a high educational achievement. In looking at professionalism, it is important to know their track record, their experiences and their professional training.
Bernadine (Dine) Racoma is a writer, researcher, and multi-awarded blogger. You can find Bernadine Racoma at Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter. She is an advocate and co-founder of BlogWatch.
Profile as of March 9, 2017.