STANDING on a policy of open consultation, re-electionist Senator Peter Alan Cayetano was in Dagupan Friday where he had freewheeling talks with various sectors, including fisherfolks and transport workers.
“Ang mga senador are supposed to be representatives of the Filipino people. So, papano mamin mai-represent ang mga tao kung hindi namin alam ang mga problema nila,” Cayetano told newsmen.
He chose Dagupan, he said, because “I thought I would have a good mix of consultation on urban and rural problems in my talk with the fisherfolk and members of the transport sector.”
He said the series of consultation with the grassroots are aimed at validating the frustrations and problems he noted in his Presyo Trabaho at Kita (PiTiK) platform.
While here, he learned how much an ordinary jeepney driver earns after paying the boundary to the operator and bankrolling the day’s gasoline consumption.
He also inquired about the practice of kotongs (extortion from authorities on the street), and the jeepney drivers said while it has not completely stopped, it has become minimal.
Cayetano said his PiTiK platform will integrate the biggest problems raised by the ordinary folk during his consultations with them.
At the same time, Cayetano expessed his support for a regionalized approach to defining policies and resolving problems in governance over the current centralized and decentralized structure in the bureaucracy.
“Itigil na natin yong decentralization. Let’s look at regionalization because this will deliver public services faster to the grassroots,” he said.
Cayetano was also told of schoolteachers in Dagupan and other parts of Pangasinan being made to pay seminar fees whenever the Department of Education (DepEd) requires them to attend seminars.
The senator was puzzled by the claim since he said the practice is not true in the case of teachers in Metro Manila or even Taguig City where his wife Lani is the mayor. He said he would seek a clarification from DepEd.
During the forum, one mother asked Cayetano why her children enrolled in public schools are asked to pay P15 for test papers because the teachers claim that the school’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) are insufficient.
Cayetano said these situations would be addressed if the DepEd is regionalized.
He also expressed reservations about the new K to 12 education program, which he said was planned at the central office with minimal consideration on the situation on the ground where there lack of classrooms and other facilities are still prevalent.
Meanwhile, the association of bangus growers in the city submitted a set of recommendations to Cayetano for possible action in congress.
Still others complained of inconsistency on the part of the city government in enforcing the ordinance regarding fish pens. They cited the proliferation of fish pens in some areas affecting the production of fishpond growers.
When media asked him about his recent debate with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Cayetano said he is willing to work again if the issues about cash gifts for senators are resolved.
He said he is willing to patch up their differences if Enrile explains the issues on accountability that he raised.
Cayetano also stressed that while Enrile has twisted their disagreement with public attacks on his family, he maintains that the battle he is waging is nothing personal. “It’s about the proper utilization of the people’s money,” he maintained.
Cayetano noted that the Office of the Senate President has yet to disclose the source of the P250,000 cash gift given to each senator last year.
“While I’m not focusing on our disagreement right now, I am aware that any form of corruption or any form of lack of transparency in government affects prices, employment and income,” Cayetano said.— with report from Eva Visperas
VOWS TO LOBBY VS. VAT ON FUEL
SENATOR Alan Cayetano told jeepney and tricycle drivers in Dagupan during a visit Friday that he will urge President Benigno Aquino III to consider another formula for the application of VAT on fuel.
“Isa yan sa mga matagal ko nang ipinapaglaban,” said Cayetano, adding, “Ang VAT sa gasolina ay dapat bawasan dahil nagreresulta lang ito sa mas mataas na presyo na hindi abot-kaya ng masa.”
Cayetano expressed concern for the dismal situation of the jeepney and tricycle drivers as they revealed that they are losing more than half of their day’s earnings for fuel and boundary charges.
The senator met with the jeepney and tricycle drivers and operators in the city of Dagupan in Pangasinan as part of his listening tour on PiTiK: Presyo, Trabaho, aT Kita.
“The goal of PiTiK is to get more creative ideas from the grassroots. Instead of just me talking, I am here to listen. I personally want to know where the people are good at and the resources that we have so I can help come up with better programs for them so that the economic growth can trickle down to our ordinary workers, especially in the provinces,” Cayetano said.
From Dagupan, Cayetano is heading to Baguio for the Panagbenga Festival where he will also meet with the agri sector.