Lorna Kapunan: I'm desperate, angry, but not hopeless about PH

MANILA, Philippines – If the upcoming 2016 elections is a gamble, would you take a chance on Lorna Kapunan?

The stakes are high. After all, the feisty human rights lawyer is eyeing a seat in the Senate – a branch of government where the laws of the land are made.

She admits she has no track record in legislation, but she has lawyered in the past 38 years for many clients, including high-profile ones. She has also helped run the senatorial and presidential campaigns of her late law firm partner, Raul Roco.

With this experience, she vows to fight for the oppressed in the Senate. 

"I share the desperation, the anger of Mayor [Rodrigo] Duterte and Senator Alan [Cayetano]. I share the passion for peace and order, I share their anger, but, unlike them, I'm not hopeless. That's what I want to bring to the Senate: an agenda of hope," Kapunan said during Rappler's "The Leader I Want" forum on Wednesday, January 20.

Among presidential and vice presidential candidates, Duterte and Cayetano were the only ones who showed up at the event, intended to be a forum where the tandems for 2016 would present their platforms and answer questions on these plans.

Senatorial candidates Kapunan, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez were also present on Wednesday to talk about their platforms.

Kapunan began her spiel on Wednesday, saying that unlike those who did not attend the forum, she came because she was not afraid to debate.

Among those who did not attend was the tandem of Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, who had both endorsed Kapunan for senator.

But the lawyer still talked about Poe's campaign slogan, galing at puso (competence and heart) in her speech, and compared her to other government leaders today. 

"Nakita natin (We saw) in these last few days how leaders have responded with insensitivity. How can you trust a leadership that will veto...a measly P2,000 SSS pension increase? Ang tawag doon, walang puso (You call that a leader with no heart)," she said, taking a jab at President Benigno Aquino III.

Legislative agenda

On Wednesday, Kapunan talked about the role of an efficient justice system in creating an honest Philippine government. She wants to create more courts and to increase the salaries of justices in order "to remove hoodlums in robes."

"Taking the law into your hands sabi ni (according to) Duterte? That's not correct. You must believe in the justice system," the lawyer said, as she proposed creating specialized courts that will tackle specific issues such as drug abuse.

The lawyer also believes in providing opportunities for all, especially for women, children, senior citizens, solo parents, indigenous peoples, veterans, pensioners, and for sectors vulnerable to climate change, such as farmers and fisherfolk. 

"We need to support our agrarian reform program. I am for extension of agrarian reform…. Sabi nga (It was mentioned) in the first [State of the Nation Address], we are net exporters of rice. Somebody lied to the President. Up to now nag-i-import pa tayo ng rice (we still import rice)," Kapunan added.

Kapunan also talked about expanding PhilHealth coverage so that patients from low- and middle-income classes will no longer have to worry about their laboratory expenses.

Education is one of the highlights of her platform. She believes in an education that will instill in students love for country. She would like to review K to 12, to see if it is responsive, and the budget of state universities and colleges, to see if education is getting the highest budgetary priority as required by the Constitution.

Kapunan also wants to legislate laws that will remove contractualization in the country and will provide decent living wages to workers.

If she wins a Senate seat, the lawyer vowed to do the following in her first 100 days:

Rappler's "The Leader I Want" forum was held at the De La Salle University in Manila, and broadcasted nationwide by media partners DZRH and Media ng Bayan. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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