Senatorial candidate Chel Diokno said the importation of sugar, rice and other commodities should only be done as a last resort.
Diokno, who was in Negros Occidental on Sunday, February 20, was reacting to protests of sugar farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries against the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s move to import 200,000 metric tons of sugar.
Importation should be done as a last resort because those who will be disadvantaged will be the farmers and sugar workers, he said.
“We should prioritize our local industries, there should be no compromise on that,” Diokno said.
Diokno said he was in Negros to listen and know what the needs of its people are. One of the qualities of a leader should be the ability to listen and consult, he said.
Diokno, who is running under the ticket of presidential candidate Leni Robredo, is a lawyer, educator, and human rights advocate.
He is the head of the Free Legal Assistance Group, and gives free legal service to victims of injustice and abuse.
His father was the late senator Jose W. Diokno who fought the Marcos dictatorship and taught him love of country, the senatorial candidate said.
He has dedicated his professional life to serving people as private citizen, Diokno said.
Diokno said if elected senator he will push for providing free legal service in every barangay, a more scientific approach to managing pandemics through a pandemic management law, a court decongestion law that will adopt arbitration measures, and an alternative penalties act to decongest jails.
The Philippines has one of the most overcrowded jail systems in the entire world, he said. A Commission on Audit report last year showed that the overcrowding rate was at 415 percent, he said.
Alternative penalties for minor offenses could be community service, suspended sentences and home detention through electronic monitoring, Diokno said.
He said current survey results are not conclusive, it is too early to gauge what the outcome of the May polls will be, Diokno said.
Diokno pointed out that when Robredo ran for vice president at the start her survey numbers were low very and in the end she won.
A lot of volunteers are working hard for him who do not mind what the surveys are saying, he said, adding that his numbers are higher now than when he previously ran for senator.
Diokno, who visited various areas in northern Negros, met with bishops Patricio Buzon of Bacolod and Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos City and asked for their prayers and blessings.*