by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com
TAGAYTAY CITY — Religious leader Bro. Mariano “Mike” Velarde is calling on all Filipinos to set aside political differences and work as one in 2008.
“Let’s all unite. Magkaisa tayo. Kailangang magsama-sama tayo sa iisang partido, sa iisang direksiyon para sa ating bansa. Itabi muna ang mga political interests natin and let’s all work together. Tulungan natin ang gobyerno natin, this is the only one we have, atin ito,” Velarde told the Asian Journal in an exclusive interview recently.
He believes that the 2010 elections will be crucial to the nation.
“It is time for the people to rise up. Let us elect good leaders. Hindi natin kailangang sisihin ang mga pulitiko kasi sino ba ang nagluklok sa kanila sa puwesto, hindi ba mga tao?” he said.
He said that he advised President Gloria Arroyo not to mind her detractors and the ratings and just continue to work harder and concentrate on infrastructure, tourism and agricultural development.
“Ang problema ng gobyerno natin ngayon, hindi ito pinaniniwalaan. Sabi ko nga kay GMA, kailangan niya ng isang action para mabago ang perception ng mga tao sa kanya. Si GMA masipag at marunong, first-hand masasabi ko sa inyo,” Velarde shared.
If he had his way, he would like to professionalize the way the government is being run.
“We need to professionalize the government because we need to start with a clean slate. In order to clean the system, we need to retire all the officers and infuse new blood,” Velarde said.
He would like to start at the Comelec.
“Our electoral system was designed for cheating because it was crafted by politicians. There must be a complete change, hindi puwedeng piece meal. Hahayaan ba nating mabulok ang lahat ng mangga dahil sa isang pirasong bulok? The question is how do we know kung alin ang bulok?,” he asked.
Velarde also believes that the government is over-staffed and a management audit must be done.
“Pag ako ang presidente, I will implement a democratic martial plan and I will ask the Congress to do it. My vision for a new republic? Walang party party, iisa lang, ang partido Pilipino,” he explained.
During his travels abroad, Velarde was able to meet with thousands of overseas Filipinos.
He hopes that programs will be designed in order for them to be able to invest in the Philippines.
“Kung kayo bibigyan ko ng investment portfolio sa Pilipinas, $50 a month, guaranteed by the Central Bank, cashable anytime, with interest. Wouldn’t you give that to the Philippines? Kaysa kung saan saan pa tayo mangutang,” he said.
The amount may be small, he explained, but once the government gets the millions of overseas Filipinos to invest, the country will be able to generate millions of dollars worth of investments monthly.
Velarde says that he has lots of “radical ideas” for the Philippines and hopes that there is someone out there who will be “strong enough to implement them.”
“Ang taong-bayan ngayon mulat na. I am hopeful na tama ang direksyon nating tatahakin sa 2010. Let us all look for a leader with a vision and an ambition,” he said.
“As it is, we are already too polarized dahil nga sa pulitika kaya extra-careful tayo sa mga sinasabi at ibinibigay nating payo sa mga kaibigan nating politicians. Walang nagbi-bridge eh, that’s what I am doing right now,” Velarde explained.
With this newfound role as the bridge between the administration and the opposition, Velarde says he is able to gain the respect of both camps not only because he is neutral but because he tells them that over and above politics, it is the nation that must be prioritized.
Right now, Velarde believes that President Arroyo’s “strength” lies on the lack of unity among the opposition stalwarts.
“If they (opposition) will not come together, matatalo yan sa 2010,” Velarde predicted.
With the Philippine peso reaching PhP41-to-$1 this month, Velarde believes it is not because the peso is really strong but more so because the dollar is really weak.
“Medyo artificial na medyo totoo,” is how he describes the current market.
“The dollars are coming in pero kung tutuusin, that is a bad sign. Why? It only proves that business is not moving, these are all remittances from the overseas Filipinos and not investments,” he shared.
Velarde lamented that despite the image of a strong peso, prices of local commodities remain high.
“Wala pa akong nakikitang benefit nito sa mga tao. Mas nasasaktan pa nga sila kasi patuloy pa sa pagtaas ang presyo ng mga bilihin,” he added.
He also predicts that the dollar might bounce back slightly come January as remittances taper off but believes that it won’t go back to its old value.
“Malabo nang bumalik pa ang piso sa mga 55 to 1, ang real level niyan this year maglalaro between 40 to 45,” Velarde shared.