Win Gatchalian’s Pandesal Forum

On the NPC’s endorsement of Poe-Escudero tandem
— The decision of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition to throw its support behind the tandem of presidential bet Grace Poe and running mate Francis “Chiz” Escudero will further boost their chances in winning in the May 9 elections.
— The NPC is the second biggest political party in the country based on the number of incumbent congressmen, governors and city mayors. The NPC party was established by businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco in 1991 who ran for president in 1992.
— NPC incumbent governors and mayors can deliver command votes in their respective areas. NPC counts among its incumbents: 2 senators; 37 congressmen; 12 provincial governors; 14 vice governors; 106 provincial board members; 23 city mayors; 19 city vice mayors; 205 city councilors; 217 municipal mayors; 229 municipal vice mayors; 1605 municipal councilors. Total NPC incumbent officials is 2,469.
On Senator Poe’s DQ Case in the Supreme Court
—NPC is confident that the Supreme Court’s decision on Senator Poe’s disqualification case will be consistent with democracy and consistent with protecting the rights of foundlings as natural born citizens and of all Filipinos who want to serve the country.
— Excluding Sen. Poe is excluding the people. It is unfortunate that her opponents would choose to exclude her instead of fairly engaging in a principled discussion of platform and program of government. They resent the fact that Sen. Poe is seen by the people as a leader who will truly look after their interests, as evidenced by her consistent lead in the surveys.
On Cong. Win’s Legislative Agenda in the Senate:
If elected senator, Gatchalian’s legislative agenda will focus on making quality education accessible to all deserving Filipinos and on making economic growth inclusive, by pushing for measures promoting the development of small and medium enterprises and promotion of microfinance.
— The fight for universal access to higher education is far from over. As long as millions of deserving but underprivileged Filipinos are deprived of their constitutionally mandated right to a college education, I will work with Senator Poe and other education advocates to secure this fundamental right for the youth
Poe had earlier expressed support for Gatchalian’s House Bill No. 5905 or the “Free Higher Education Act”, which would establish a full tuition subsidy for the approximately 1.5 million students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
— With Senator Poe’s support, I am confident that we will be able to make free college education a reality when the next administration takes office later this year. One of her policies focus on youth empowerment, and securing universal access to college education is one of the best ways to accomplish this
On the Issue of Public Schools collecting graduation fees
— Public schools should not force students and parents to pay for unnecessary graduation costs. Students should not be kept from rightly attending their graduation or completion rites if they refuse to pay for such fees as these run counter to previous directives of the Department of Education (DepEd). Graduation and completion rites should not be regarded by public school administrators as opportunities to generate income.
Based on DepEd Order No. 7, s. 2016: “Graduation rites should be simple but meaningful affairs which encourage civil rights, a sense of community, and personal responsibility. While these rites mark a milestone in the life of the learners, these should be conducted without excessive spending, extravagant attire, or extraordinary venue.”
For public schools, DepEd said expenses relative to the activity should be charged to the school Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses under the 2016 Budget. Any DepEd personnel should not be allowed to collect any graduation/moving up/closing ceremony fees or any kind of contribution,” Deped said. Public school students cannot also be forced to contribute for the annual yearbook.
On the issue of Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea 
The Aquino administration should use the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to its advantage in terms of securing additional war ships and patrol boats from the United States government.
— It’s about time that the AFP upgrade its air and naval assets so that frequent surveillance of the contested islands in the West Philippine Sea can be conducted. It’s really lamentable that our country lags behind in terms of modern planes and ships compared to other claimant nations in the Spratlys.
— If and when our AFP becomes modernized in terms of state-of-the-art tanks, fighter jets and war ships, we are sure that our Army, Air Force and Navy will be one of the best in this part of Asia. Most importantly, we can defend our vast territorial waters from foreign incursions
On the revival of mandatory ROTC
           Cong Win Gatchalian has been pushing for the revival of the Reserved Offices Training Corps (ROTC) as a means of inculcating in the youth patriotism and nationalism in the wake of renewed activities of the Chinese military in the West Philippine Sea.  While the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) remains to be the premier military school for future officers and generals of the AFP, the ROTC is also a major source of officers particularly for the Philippine Army.
Under House Bill No. 2338, Gatchalian wants the ROTC to form part of the curriculum of all college degree courses as well as technical or vocational courses, and shall be a pre-requisite for graduation. Students shall be required to complete the ROTC for an academic period for two years.
          —- Making ROTC mandatory for all male students enrolled in colleges, universities and technical or vocational schools is in line with the Constitutional provision which states that “the Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in fulfilment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service.”
— The ROTC program will bolster confidence in our military preparedness and capability while at the same time provide our country with support from student-cadet reservists and potential commissioned officers