Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ating Pinas: Former Senator Jun Magsaysay

Ating Pinas (Our Philippines) is a regular series about anything and everything Filipino.  Featuring uplifting articles that inspire national pride as well as sombering essays to spur participation towards positive change.  
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A Few Deserving Senatorial Bets
Numbers Don't Lie

MANILA, Philippines — We’ve come a long way since the lost decade under GMA, but much still needs to be done to sustain the favorable economic outlook we enjoy today. P-Noy’s anti-corruption campaign and pursuit of good governance provides one part of the equation.

The remaining half lies on the shoulders of the legislature. New laws have yet to be passed to improve our level of competitiveness, bolster government’s revenues, strengthen our institutions, and better prepare the youth for the economic challenges of the future. This is why the next elections, particularly those for the 12 senatorial slots, are so crucial.

The senatorial slates of both the Liberal Party and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are pretty much firmed up. From what I see, both parties offer a hodgepodge of candidates ranging from your garden-variety trapos (traditional politicians) to newbies, neither of which is compelling enough for me to vote a straight ticket.

So from now until election day, I’ll be dedicating some of my columns to candidates whom I think can contribute to our national dream of economic prosperity for all. This is my way of helping ensure that those elected are public servants in the truest sense with something substantive to contribute.

But before I reveal my first senatorial choice, let me first tell you who I am NOT voting for. I am not voting for candidates who are next of kin to any incumbent senator. I say this because no single family should have more than one vote in the formation of national policy. This could prove dangerous especially if the family has inclinations, or already is, a political dynasty. Moreover, no candidate should gain undue advantage just because he or she enjoys the benefit of name recall.

I will not vote for those intellectually and experientially deficient, those suspect of having committed crime, and (especially) those who, in the past, sabotaged the economy by mounting a power grab through military rebellion. These are people who do not deserve the vote of hardworking citizens like you and me.

First Among My Choices

The first candidate on my ticket is former senator Jun Magsaysay. Experience and intellectual savvy aside, Jun Magsaysay is a man with a well-defined agenda for running for office. If elected, the former senator will champion the cause of entrepreneurship, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and the agricultural sector in the senate.

For a nation blessed with millions of hectares of arable land and fertile fishing grounds, it is still a net importer of rice, grains and produce. The sector has shrunk massively since the ’70s due primarily to the premature implementation of land reform. As a result, agriculture has shrunk to only 13 percent of the entire economy, from more than 50 percent two decades ago.

The ultimate goal is food security, says Magsaysay. Unknown to many, the good senator was the principal sponsor of the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act, the most comprehensive statute that outlines the long-term development of the agricultural sector. He was also the main proponent of the Young Farmers Program, a scheme that encourages the youth to venture into agri- and fisheries-related businesses, a field not too fashionable these days. In fact, even after his stint at the senate, Magsaysay continues to promote the agricultural sector as a field of livelihood. This is an advocacy close to his heart.

Of course, let us not forget that he was the lone senator who had the guts to blow the whistle on the Bolante-Fertilizer Scam even amid pressure from GMA herself.

As for his advocacy on entrepreneurship is concerned, Magsaysay is the man behind the Magna Carta for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), a law that made it mandatory for banks to allocate eight percent of their loan portfolio to support SMEs. The decree has helped thousands of struggling   entrepreneurs expand their businesses, save them or get them off the ground.

But as a private citizen, perhaps not many are aware that Magsaysay is himself a self-made entrepreneur. He is considered the country’s “father of cable TV,” having established the first cable network in Zambales way back in the ’60s. His company, Asian Vision Cable Holdings, is still operational today and provides cable services for the folks in Zambales and Batangas, among others.

Lately, however, Magsaysay has been preoccupied with his dairy farm and pasteurizing plant that goes by the brand name, Holly’s Milk. Like the true La Sallian entrepreneur that he is (with an MBA from New York University), he built his company from the ground up to prove that dairy farming can be a viable business. His handiwork has since grown to become a fully integrated milk processing facility that utilizes the most current technologies.

The former senator understands the plight of the entrepreneur because he is one himself. He understands the challenges of the agriculture industry, having experienced it first hand. To me, this makes him credible.

Read more here.

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Suggested read:

Philippine Daily Inquirer - Called to serve, Jun Magsaysay returns


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