Davao City- Saying that the latest hostage-taking incident in Nigeria, where eight (8) Filipinos were abducted should not take place again, Senatorial Candidate Cesar Montano said that he will use all legislative means to prevent this case from happening again. “The country should permanently ban the sending of OFWs in danger or war zones like Iraq and Nigeria to avoid these kinds of situation from happening. Yes, I am aware of the financial costs of this, but the risk of abduction is just too high in these areas. There are other countries that can serve as alternative destinations, and we should explore these places as well, ” Montano said in his speech during the Team Unity meeting de Avance yesterday. In this media interview, he lamented the fact that it costs the country much in terms of negotiation and political altercations if a Filipino is abducted abroad. “It is simply time to shift from a reactive to a preventive mode,” he asserted. He also said that he has grown tired of watching negotiations with so-called ‘terrorists’ because he knows this situation could have been prevented.
Montano said that issuing bans in certain countries is an unpopular move because of the unemployment, hunger, and poverty existing in the country. However, he said “that if being unpopular is the price to pay in saving lives, then I’ll gladly accept it. “ “It will take a large amount political will to craft this type of policy and a greater amount of resolve in implementing it, but I am looking forward to the ban since this is what’s best for the OFWs,“ he added.
Montano added that if elected as a Senator, he would be tasked to review and ratify all the international bilateral agreements that the Philippines signs. He said he will see to it that the agreements will not only bring favorable financial and economic opportunities in the Philippines, it will also protect the rights of Filipinos working abroad who are most of the time subjected to racism and discrimination. Asked if he finds this
legislative function as hard, he replied, “I find the ratification of foreign agreements an easy task, I just have to put the interest of the Filipinos and the entire country above everything else,” he remarked. “Philippine sovereignty merits primacy at all times,” said Montano.
Asked for comments about international environmentally-related treaties like the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Montano said that he, as an environmentalist by heart and actions, evident in the movies he makes and the advocacies he fights for, would want to repeal some of the provisions in the agreement. “I want to rethink parts of the JPEPA policy, while there are possible economic impacts, I do not agree in the provision that says Japan can send its garbage to the Philippines. We are not the garbage can of Asia. We are already having a hard time finding landfills and places to dump our trash. Now we will be receiving a significant amount of garbage. What if this includes industrial toxic wastes? It will kill our people. I can’t allow that, not if I value the beauty of places like Palawan, Bohol and Batangas”, he commented. He added that environmental international agreements would definitely be up for review should he get a seat in the senate.
Meanwhile in his radio interviews the multi-awarded actor-director-producer is optimistic that he will make it in the magic 12 as groundswell of support for various sectors have poured in from day one of his campaign and has intensified as homestretch for the May 14 polls nears. Among those that expressed support were partylist Agrarion Reform Council (ARC).
The Agrarian Reform Council (ARC), a party-list group for peasants and farm workers has also thrown their support for Montano. “We agree 100% for his C.E.S.A.R. agenda for rural development. We are also for Cooperative development like credit coops, education for all, quick, effective, and efficient delivery of Social services, implementation of Agrarian reform and massive but non-graft ridden Rural infrastructure,” said a spokesperson of ARC.
Reform Council Victor Balais, president of the Philippine Transport and General Workers’ Organization (PTWGO), said they are all out for Montano. “He is the only candidate with a clear stand on contractualization,” he said. “And his C.E.S.A.R. package for labor that calls for Collective bargaining agreement, quality Education, Safety nets for those who will be negatively affected by globalization, Asset reforms and promotion of Rights, like right to strike and to organize, is consistent with the issues the workers are fighting for,” continued Balais.