Labor leader and presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman on Friday said he would bat for a one-time 20 percent wealth tax on the top 500 richest families in the country to fund the P1-trillion economic recovery program.
He also proposed to reduce the number of working hours for Filipinos from eight to six hours to generate more jobs amid the economic slowdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But De Guzman stressed this should not result in salary cuts and reduced benefits for employees.
At the Kamuning Bakery online forum, De Guzman also said he would double the agriculture subsidies to aid farmers and fishermen and uphold progressive taxation.
He allayed fears of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on his “labor first policy,” including the P750 national minimum wage and the abolition of all forms of contractualization.
De Guzman is the presidential candidate of Partido Lakas ng Masa and chairperson of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, with former Rep. Walden Bello as his running mate.
His P1-trillion Philippine economic recovery plan shall focus on P475 billion for public jobs generation program, P400 billion for health stimulus, and P125 billion to be provided as assistance for MSMEs.
De Guzman said he saw the need to nationalize basic and strategic public utilities, such as water and power services to prioritize “tao bago tubo” (people over profits).
Meanwhile, the socialist leader rejected the government no-vaccine no-ride policy, mandatory vaccination, and proposed military conscription of youth from age 18.
He believes he has the chance of winning the presidency in the 2022 elections with the support of progressives, student, and youth groups.
At the Pandesal Forum webinar hosted by Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City, De Guzman said these groups “have volunteered to introduce me and my platforms.”
“Toto Nemenzo and La Viña are also my supporters,” he added, without specifically identifying the two personalities.
De Guzman said he is more than willing to participate in a debate to be organized by the Commission on Elections.
“I want it that way so that the people would know my programs and the problems of the different sectors,” he said.
“I am ready for a (presidentiable) debate,” he stressed.
“I don’t have billions and billions of pesos for billboards on Edsa and television ads, I can make use of the social media to be heard by the poor,” De Guzman added.
He also said said he is not in favor of the reopening of the face-to-face classes for students following the rise of COVID-19 infections in the country.
However, he noted that the government must strengthen its contact tracing, mass testing and vaccination programs to curb the spread of the respiratory viral disease.
With three Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners retiring soon, De Guzman said it is time an independent body appoint new officials of the poll body and not leave it to the discretion of the president.
Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr. are set to retire on February 2.
After February 2, the en banc will be left with Commissioners Marlon Casquejo, Soccoro Inting, Aimee Ferolino, and Rey Bulay — all appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.
As to the administration’s war on drugs, De Guzman said it should be treated as a health problem, adding that drug users must be given support and rehabilitation.
“The drug lords must be caught and jailed, while those who become victims must be rehabilitated,” the labor leader said.
“Killing is not the solution against illegal drugs. Many lives have been killed but drug users still seem to increase. This is proof that killing or intimidation is not the right solution,” he added.