It’s a disservice to our country and democracy if the senate becomes monolithic. It’s important that people who think differently are represented.
But there are times of course when you’re alone—for example in the martial law extension, it was basically the minority plus senator Escudero against the world.
You kind off get used to it. But part of me is also thinking, someone has to represent the other voice. Kasi the senate, we’re 24 people here with different backgrounds, may mga abogado, local government leaders, may mga sundalo, may ibang nag-entrepreneur, NGO, may broadcaster, may athlete, may artista—iba-iba, diba?
So we’re here to represent a wide swath of people, and our country is a diverse country. People have different mindsets and perspectives. It’s a disservice to our country and democracy if the senate becomes monolithic, na isa lang lagi ‘yung compass and posisyon sa bagay-bagay. Even if there will be a loser and a winner, it’s important that people who think differently are represented.
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A lot of great laws are passed, but fall short when it comes to implementation. For example, with the Free College Law, which was implemented this school year, how will you ensure its vision is achieved?
Kailangan mo siya tutukan araw-araw. And this is where my experience in the social enterprise world comes in. I think a number of legislators, they’ll stop when the law is passed. But if you have an entrepreneurship background, it's end to end eh. Even after you sell the product, you still have to look at customer feedback and repeat.
So even when the law was passed we didn’t stop there. We made sure it was funded, and now we continue to monitor the implementation of state universities and colleges.
May mga issues pa rin to be honest, especially it’s the first year. Now, the challenge is getting it funded every year, and then you dovetail all of the new reforms, supporting all the facilities, supporting all the teachers. Sunod-sunod ‘yan. And trying to manage that whole reform agenda, I think is not really easy, but it can be done.
Free College is within the same framework of development. Which is, if you’re able to provide more opportunities for our people to really show their innate talent, ability to work hard, and really do the best with what they have, if you open doors, they will be able to lift themselves out of poverty. And it’s the same thing that we’ve been espousing in social enterprise. Kailangan lang ng Pinoy ng tamang opportunities eh.
Of course now Free College is the big game changer where you’re providing so much opportunities to the people, but I always tell the students, “pero kayo pa rin ‘yung mag aaral, kayo pa rin ‘yung mag e-exam, kayo pa rin ‘yung gigising kada araw, papasok, ga-graduate. Pero ‘yung trabaho namin, siguraduhin na mas madali ‘to para sa inyo.”
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Many times a lot of our laws, policies, programs, instead of opening doors, pampabigat pa sila sa mga tao. So what became clear to me here was our role here as a senator or in the government is to open those doors to provide opportunities for people, and you block all attempts that will make people’s lives harder, that will marginalize a particular sector.
It’s going to be a tough race for you this year. Why should people vote for you?
If they want somebody who will really focus on what Filipino families need, and ‘yun naman hindi ‘yun bola kasi we have the track record to show for it. Even before I became a senator, while being a senator, a lot of the things we passed, are all trying to support the Filipino family, trying to make it easier for our countrymen to live the lives they want.
If they want someone who will focus on that who will help our poor countrymen, who will look for innovative ways to move our country forward, then hopefully they will take a second look at what we’ve done.