At a time when some politicians want to tamper with the Constitution to stay in power and allow the entry of foreign investments, Satur Ocampo who is running for Senate, talks about the need to continue the nationalist tradition started by Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada and Jose Diokno as the only hope for the country to develop.
Satur Ocampo does not work for money, so the leaflet which says “Why I will vote for Satur Ocampo in 2010,” reads, prepared by Ocampo’s staff.
The leaflet says that as a journalist, Ocampo was offered bribe but he never accepted them. Even as a congressman, the leaflet says, he refused. Ocampo tirelessly works for the cause of human rights, social justice and equality. He was in Davao for the Nacionalista Party sorties and talks to Davao Today.
Davao Today: Why did you decide to run? Why the Senate?
Ocampo: We saw that what we can do in the House of Representatives is insufficient. Our possibility of winning the Senate race is open.
Davao Today: What do you have that other candidates don’t have?
Ocampo: My long experience as an activist, that’s 50 years. My experience in dealing with the basic masses, farmers, workers, as well as being a journalist and a political prisoner for more than 12 years, gave me a deep understanding of the basic problems of our country. I think we can give a deeper perspective, understanding and answer to our country’s problems. In Makabayan coalition, we noticed that there are now lesser or no more voices of nationalist senators like Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno. I’m not saying that I’m comparing myself to them but I am determined to continue what they have started in the Senate. We have learned from them and with the larger experience we have now, we can advance and continue more our being nationalist by fighting for our rights, economic rights and democratic rights. We have clearer and more definite proposals on economic policies as alternative to the failed policies and programs of the Arroyo government.
Davao Today: What is your platform of government?
Ocampo: Since Liza and I run under one coalition which is Makabayan, we have the same platform. But in the implementation or legislation, it’s either we will co-authorize or divide the subjects or the bills. I would like to mention about our country’s debt or debt management issues. Ever since we started in Bayan Muna at the House of Representatives, we have been tackling that. We have a bill which is to repeal the automatic appropriations for debt servicing. But in the Makabayan’s platform, we also have a bill that says if the automatic appropriations law is not yet repealed, we can adopt a policy of moratorium in paying the debt services. We can use the huge budget of around 700 billion for the education of our children and their school needs like textbooks, classrooms and others. We can also use the budget to subsidize our hospitals which is now being privatized or urged to generate their own income. That becomes a huge burden to the patients since they pay everything. What we want to happen is that those who gets sick, gets free medication or if not, at least, it is something that they can afford. Aside from that, we can also use the budget for housing and other social services. Now, the government always tells us that they cannot address all these problems because we lack the budget. If we will temporarily stop paying our debts and redirect the money to other services, our educational system can improve its standards and coverage, likewise our health services.
If we can also reduce the corruption in the government, we can also use the money to social services. In terms of corruption, there is a pending bill in the House that we can push in the Senate. This is the whistleblower’s bill. Those who will expose the anomalies in the government will be given protection. Although our government has a witness protection program, it is not effective. When the government runs out of budget after a long time of providing livelihood and protection to the whistleblowers, they are ignored. So either they suffer from reprisal or they are forced to leave the country. So the case becomes meaningless. Makabayan has a very strong platform on corruption which include calling for an investigation on all anomalies, on graft and corruption, on violations done by previous presidents starting from Marcos whom we want to compensate the martial law victims and to return the ill-gotten wealth. Then to the Ramos administration where there was the Centennial scam, and of course Erap who was convicted and now GMA who faces several charges.