CEBU CITY—Presidential Grace Poe on Sunday said she intends to increase the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to defend the country’s claim on the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
”We should strengthen our AFP. We have small budget for defense. I will not allow our soldiers to be killed,” Poe said during the second presidential debate held at the University of the Philippines here.
Another presidential aspirant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asked Poe on what she would do if she will be informed that China has invaded the WPS.
”First I will wake up and called the AFP chief of staff and address the problem,” Poe said.
She said she will also appealed to the United Nations arbitration court to decide early on the case filed by the Philippines against China and ask the cooperation of neighbor countries in Southeast Asia to force China to abide with the code of conduct.
”We need to enjoin other ASEAN countries to constructively engage China to follow a code of conduct,” the senator said.
”If there is a need to knock the door of every country on their stand on UNCLOS. If countries will unite to remind China, we will still prevail,” Poe said.
On issue of climate change, Poe said government should think of the farmers by constructing free irrigation, dams, water entrapment facilities, and flood control projects.
She also said government should push for renewable energy such as wind energy and hydro energy to protect the environment.
Poe also said that if electricity continues to be monopolized by one or a few families, it is impossible to lower the price of electricity.
“Maaaring i-review natin ang EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) pero kung pare-pareho pa rin ang mga pamilya na mamumuhunan sa ating bansa, monopoliya pa rin. Kailangan talaga buksan talaga natin para sa ibang mamumuhunan dito. Basta lamang maglilikha ito ng trabaho at produktibo para sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.
Poe recommended amendments to economic provisions in the Constitution to allow more players in the industry. With more firms and companies investing, more jobs will also be created, she said.
On issue of criminality, Poe said she intends to increase the number of policemen and increase their allowances.
She said she will appoint former Col. Ariel Querubin as crime czar, denying insinuation that she is too weak to stamp out illegal drugs.
On the raise-your-hand portion if they are in favor of an issue, Poe and Duterte raised their hands when asked if they are in favor of reviving the death penalty.
”I’m in favor but only for heinous crimes,” Poe said in explaining her vote.
On corruption, Poe said she intends to build separate jail in the National Bilibid Prison for the sentenced corrupt government officials.
”Our real problem is until now corruption is still there. They are still holding position in government. They should be put in jail,” she said.
In her closing remarks, Poe thanked the people of Visayas, promising to build another bridge connecting Cebu City and Lapu Lapu City to ease traffic here.
The second presidential debates started over hour delay due to a separate debate on rules prohibiting the bringing of notes during debates.
Vice President Jejomar Binay insisted to allow him to bring notes which his fellow candidates objected since it was the same rules applied in the first presidential debates last Feb. 21 in Cagayan de Oro City.