Gatchalian eyes Senate seat under NPC

MANILA, Oct. 14 (PNA) — Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian on Wednesday filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator under the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC), which is his political party since he entered politics in 2001 as 1st District congressman.

Gatchalian and re-electionist Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III are the two senatorial candidates running under NPC, one of the country’s most formidable and influential political parties having in its roster at least 40 congressmen, 14 governors, and 22 city mayors.

In aspiring for a Senate seat, Gatchalian is bringing his sterling track record as a three-term mayor of Valenzuela City and a two-term congressman whose main advocacy is centered on education as a way out of poverty.

This is the reason why Gatchalian is urging Congress to consider prioritizing the passage of his proposed “Free Higher Education Act” to take the burden of financing schooling off the shoulders of poor parents, given the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey which showed that Filipinos are still concerned about inflation (47 percent) and workers’ pay (46 percent).

“That our people still cite inflation and workers’ pay, which are both related to the economy, as their top national concerns show that the Aquino government has failed to make economic growth inclusive,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 8-14 via face-to-face interviews with 2,400 adults age 18 and above. Results of a similar survey conducted last year also show that controlling inflation (52 percent) and improving/increasing the pay of workers (49 percent) are the top two most urgent national issues.

Gatchalian said his Senate legislative agenda which he will present soon reflect the findings of Pulse Asia that the gut issues of high prices, low income and underemployment have the biggest impact on the poorest households, whose finances are very sensitive even to increment price hikes on commodities and to limited opportunities in the job market.

“Indigent households are the ones who need urgent intervention from the government the most in order to rise above the poverty line. Making higher education in state universities and colleges free would greatly ease their financial burden. It would also give their children a chance to improve their social mobility toward a higher income class,” he explained.

He maintained it is only appropriate that lawmakers, who stand as people’s representatives, prioritize the passage of the ‘Free Higher Education Act’ before the third regular session ends.

The veteran solon is the author of House Bill 5905, also known as the “Free Higher Education Act,” which will fully subsidize tuition fee in all SUCs for all current and future enrollees provided they maintain good academic and moral standing. The measure has already been approved at the committee level.

According to the Family and Income Expenditure Survey 2012, a household led by a college graduate earns an average family income that is more than twice that of a family headed by one who has only finished high school.

While unemployment rate in July 2015 (excluding the province of Leyte) fell to 6.5 percent from 6.7 percent in the same period last year, underemployment rose to 20.8 percent from 18.3 percent, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. (PNA)