Government should create a better environment for the business sector and work for a more equitable distribution of wealth, in order to improve the lot of the poor.
This was the thrust of the alternative State of the Nation Address” (SONA) Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. presented Wednesday as the featured speaker at the Asia CEO Talks forum for business leaders at the Marriott Hotel.
Marcos clarified that he is offering his vision for a better Philippines as a hypothetical exercise, so as to present programs the next President may adopt to address the country's problems.
“Please let me emphasize the words hypothetical, not hopeful, expectant, but less wishful thinking, lest I be quoted out of context and suddenly be reported, as it has been reported before we come here, to have announced a surprise early presidential bid,” he stressed.
Marcos said he envisions the country overcoming its economic and social challenges by drawing on its own strengths and sense of unity.
“I will immediately work to restore in all Filipinos the lost sense of pride in themselves and pride in being citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. We had at some point in our history that pride, that sense of nationhood but we see it to have gone astray and we have lost it,” he said.
Marcos said he believes business should take the lead in nation-building, poverty reduction and developing a shared future.
“The success of our nation depends on national unity, but it is hard for me to imagine how unity can be even be possible when nearly 97% percent of our people do not feel they are sharing in our so-called ‘economic miracle’,” he pointed out.
He lamented that the government’s P62.3 billion Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program has not helped the country substantially because of leakages.
“It is alarming to note that, despite our economic gains of recent years, at least 3,700 Filipinos leave for jobs abroad every single day. Nearly one in 10 of us are already abroad, meeting our families’ basic needs with the earnings from foreign jobs,” Marcos added.
To help business thrive and generate jobs for the poor, Marcos said the government must promote confidence in the government’s competence and commitment in advancing the nation’s interest through meritocracy and transparency.
He said the next President should surround himself with the best talents and ensure appointments to all government posts—from the Cabinet, the Armed Forces and the police, the Judiciary, to the lowest levels of bureaucracy---are based on demonstrated skill, competence and integrity.
The senator also called for the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI), which the President neglected to mention in his last SONA, to help erase doubts and perceptions of corruption, lack of ability, and favoritism in government.
“By focusing on meritocracy, efficiency, and integrity in government, in national defense, and in law enforcement, this government will lay the firm foundation needed to “democratize capitalism” and to encourage the sharing of the fruits of our collective effort with all Filipino,” Marcos said.
The next President must also initiate peace talks with all entities fighting the government, such as the New People’s Army and other Muslim rebels, to ensure peace and order.
Likewise, Marcos said the next administration must address infrastructure challenges resulting in the high cost of electricity and power supply, costly and inefficient telecommunications, worsening traffic conditions, and an unreliable mass transport system.
“Infrastructure building must be a center part of the government’s efforts to improve the economy. One of the challenges we must overcome if we are to build a greater nation is to find ways to meet our enormous need for infrastructure of all kinds,” Marcos said.
To achieve this, Marcos said the government must also provide incentives for private business to invest in needed infrastructure, such as his proposed amendments to the law on Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
Marcos also proposed the adoption of the gross income tax policy for businesses.
It is also essential, according to Marcos, that the next President “leave politics in its proper place” and be a unifying leader. He said the next President must work with all political parties to strengthen the country’s weak and ineffectual party system.
“Strong nations need strong foundations, and a successful presidency must emphasize service to the vast majority of our people – not in handouts, but in opportunities to easily join the meritocracy where we can build together,” he said.