There is only one view about the presidency that most sociologists, political analysts, historians, academics, journalists or even the ordinary men on the street believe in—that the presidency is a gift of destiny to fate’s anointed one. And, therefore, the next leader is tasked by such fate to accomplish much for the country.
The next president will inherit an economy that has shown some degree of improvement, but is still saddled by a rise in poverty incidence, crime and lawlessness, scarred by deepening international conflict with a nearby world power, and still divided by a prolonged communist insurgency and Muslim secessionist movements.
What is to be done? History showed that great presidents should have clarity of vision and a strategic direction. They build collective confidence in the future. Undoubtedly, there is no other clearer manifestation of such vision than to have a concrete To-do-list for the country. One that would compel endless working hours for the entire six years at the helm of our government.
The list can be endless, but there are urgent concerns that should be prioritized.
Passage of priority bills
Very few of the priority measures that President Aquino certified as urgent way back in 2011 have been transformed into laws, such as the Reproductive Health, Data Privacy and GOCC Good Governance Acts.
The public clamors for the passage of the following:
- The FOI law
- No less than our Constitution secures the right of the people to information on public concern. It guarantees access to official records and to documents pertaining to official acts and transactions subject to certain limitations provided by law. As a supplement, we have a Code of Ethics of government officials that mandates accessibility by the public to government officials’ contracts, information and papers.
- Transparency and accessibility are the first steps to curbing corruption and avarice among government officials.
- Antitrust law
In our ongoing quest for economic strength, the Philippines should support free enterprise but must also strive to compete fairly and ethically.
Many of the countries around the world have passed fair competition laws that forbid practices that limit trade and free competition, such as price fixing and stabilizing activities, bid rigging, competitor agreements on production or output reduction, and conspiracies that are crafted to achieve monopoly power.
A level playing field where no single company, conglomerate or economic entity can outmaneuver competitors, manipulate the market and wreak havoc on the consuming public is a priced goal in any free market society.
Our legislature must pass the Anti-Trust law for the Philippines to remain a respected member of the international trading community, and to ensure consumer welfare by curbing illegal competition practices.
There are other important bills that must be pushed by the next administration, and these include the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization, Establishment of the Archipelagic Sea Lanes and Maritime Zones, Customs Modernization Act, the Land Use Act, Whistleblowers Protection Act and the Sin Tax law.
IN the first half of 2014, the National Economic and Development Authority reported an increase in poverty incidence by 1.2 percentage points to almost 25.8 percent from the 24.6 percent registered in the same period for 2013. Consumer price index for food rose, rice prices also reached double digit increase and fluctuating inflation rates are not helping the poor and marginalized. With this kind of figures, the 2015 millennium development growth targets are threatened.
The government’s poverty reduction programs must be continued and recalibrated when necessary.
These programs must be anchored on the sincere cooperation among the national government, local governments and the private sector. Synergizing the policies in mobilizing resources must be fast tracked to seriously rescue the poor and marginalized Filipinos.
Peace and order
The Philippines’s ranking in the 2015 Global Peace Index slid to second to the last or penultimate position, ahead only of North Korea which currently occupies the 153rd spot. This painful reality has been linked to both internal conflict and strife, as well as to our dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.
Internally, no less than the Philippine National Police saw an increase of 17.86 percent in total crime volume in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. These crimes include murder, homicide, robbery, theft, rape and those that involve estafa, carnapping, kidnapping and prostitution. Said data does not even consider possible unreported crime incidents due to weaknesses in crime reporting.
The absence of peace and order in the country is a prelude to economic disaster. We have to remember that investor’s confidence is crucial to our economic growth.
Hope in the midst of uncertainty
The 2016 national elections provide us a democratic window to welcome possible improvements in our journey as a nation. Our next chief executive shall be challenged by the huge tasks that our people have entrusted to the head of state through their ballots. The terms of our renewed social contract have no room for vacillation nor excuses. Our next president must adhere to all the stipulations of such humbling contract. No matter what the consequences will be, our next leader must pursue only what is righteous and good for our people.