Prof. Dindo Manhit, President, Stratbase ADR Institute
Leadership change or political succession is a regular occurrence in a democratic system. However, after the recent electoral cycle and the proclamation of the new president, acting beyond politics is imperative for the new administration in the new normal.
Confronted by provocative and challenging views from all sides of the political spectrum, the Marcos Jr. presidency is welcomed by a generally optimistic attitude from the Filipinos. This is evidenced by a historic victory of more than 31 million votes.
In this era of the Marcos Jr. presidency, we hope to see a democratic revival and the strengthening of civic-mindedness to contribute to society’s betterment.
Widely urged to disclose a clearer agenda and government program, President Marcos Jr., in his inaugural address, embarked on what he calls the “biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy” and on the urgent concerns on “jobs, wages, personal safety, and national strength, and ending want in the land of national plenty.”
He talked about the identified sectors and issues to be prioritized, namely, agriculture, OFWs, teachers, the energy supply, infrastructure plan, the need for investments, pollution, climate change, pandemic management, and tourism among others. He also talked about having a comprehensive, inclusive economic plan.
He emphasized throughout his speech, talking about the future and not of the past, of all being part of the solution, reconciling, having wider cooperation and trust, recovering and moving on, rejecting the politics of division, and saying that the people’s dreams are his, as well.
He talked about his first State of the Nation Address and said that it would show how we are going to get things done in terms of repairing and rebuilding the nation, addressing challenges in new ways, and making the divided nation whole again.
Unity and cooperation are crucial in the process where “agile, resilient republics are made.”
Mr. Marcos concluded his address eloquently: “And if you ask me why I am so confident of the future, I will answer you simply, that I have 110 million reasons to start with. Such is my fate in the Filipino. Believe and have hope…”
Political optimism, nonetheless, should also be grounded and anchored on the ability of the new administration to address the pressing social, political, and economic problems such as rising inequality and a decline in good governance practices.
And because poverty and inequality are so painfully connected, the government could ultimately make a dent in the lives of the poor and the vulnerable if inequality reduction reforms propel poverty reduction. This way, inequality in the intergenerational, political, social, and economic lenses could be comprehensively addressed.
Good governance, primarily demonstrated by transparency and accountability, should be the overarching framework of all government actions and decisions. The seriousness of the new administration in promoting good governance will result in decreased incidence of corruption, the fulfillment of the country’s international commitments, and the improvement of our competitiveness.
It will also arrest the eroding integrity of national political institutions and the continued weakening of Philippine democracy.
With the clarity of this new administration’s priorities, the private sector and civil society likewise renew their commitment to contribute to nation-building.
With the promise of being proactive, innovative, and collaborative in dealing with governance challenges and economic difficulties, the Marcos Jr. presidency appears to be on the right track. We will now watch whether its first 100 days could in fact be a pivotal step toward recovery and, more importantly, unity in its true essence.
This article was originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer commentary.