Five candidates for the presidency – Vice-President Leni Robredo, Senators Bong Go, Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno – bared their plans for dealing with the economy, the pandemic and other issues facing the nation if elected during the “Presidentiables Forum” at the 47th PBC & Expo.

The five presidential candidates made their case before the largest annual gathering of businessmen in the country.

Robredo will seek to control the pandemic, mitigate its impact on people’s lives and increase support for health workers, capacitating hospitals, and making testing accessible to all during her first 100 days in office.

She will allot P216 billion for “ayuda” to protect families from hunger and provide for their needs.

 “All of this can be done by: Rebuilding trust in institutions and restoring confidence in the government,” she said.

Additionally, she would focus on MSMEs which are the driving force of the economy. She would set aside P100 billion for a stimulus package for critically-impacted MSMEs and make credit available to micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and reduce interest rates on loans, as well as extend grace periods.

To improve internet service, she said she would work to allow internet service providers to operate without Congressional franchises and remove telcos as a utility to spur investment and ensure access to Philippine satellite for wider coverage.

The vice-president said she will work toward self-sufficiency and food security. She will invest in blue industries: aquaculture, maritime transport, and shipbuilding because these provide huge employment potential.

Lacson’s priority is to lay the foundation for a clean government to earn the trust of the people. He will lead the way by signing a waiver of his rights in the Bank Secrecy Law on the first day of presidency and encourage all members of the Cabinet to do the same.

His first agenda in office is to achieve recovery for the health and economic sectors. He vowed to fully implement the Universal Healthcare Act – free vaccines, free testing and treatment.

He will help MSMEs recover through fiscal stimulus package, foreclosure moratoriums, lower interest and bigger loan programs from state-run financial institutions.

Lacson said he would push for a vigorous “Made in the Philippines” campaign encouraging consumers to buy locally produced products and services.

He said the government will prioritize local contractors and manufacturers in procurement and funnel the budget to local business instead of favored Chinese traders.

Pacquiao said he would jail corrupt government officials as part of his economic recovery strategy. “Madaming matalino pero ginagamit ang talino sa pagnanakaw,” he said.

He will attract investors by lowering corporate income tax to 15 percent from the present 25 percent to be comparative with other ASEAN neighbors. He will address the high cost of power and improve internet connectivity.

Paquiao said government should strengthen non-tax revenue income instead of relying only on tax collection.

Go promised to continue the initiatives of President Rodrigo Duterte saying he will adopt the same stance in fighting corruption. He promised to double the Malasakit Centers and that every public hospital in the country must have a Malasakit Center.

Go sad he would maintain Negosyo Centers nationwide and continue the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso. He will help MSMEs recover in 2022 by providing access to loan services of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Manila Mayor Moreno said he will devote his first two years in office to reinforcing the country’s health system to best cope with the pandemic.

He committed to reducing petroleum and electricity taxes. He will focus on providing minimum basic needs of health, education, housing, jobs and livelihood.

Moreno said local government units must partner with government financial institutions to securitize future windfall earnings on account of the Mandanas ruling to assist and extend financial assistance to MSMEs with zero interest.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte gave a one-minute address expressing his desire for the PBC to bring renewed hope and inspiration for many enterprising Filipinos to thrive in the business world at the closing of the two-day business conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.