By Anna Mae Lamentillo | Manila Bulletin
“A victory not only in the May elections, but a victory of unity that will usher our country to a better future.”
This was presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s (BBM) message during the proclamation rally of the UniTeam at the start of the campaign. A message that he and his running mate, Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, has been highlighting in every town and province that they have visited in the last three months.
As we reach the tail end of the campaign, this message of unity has resonated well with the Filipino electorate. This is clearly indicated in the warm welcome of locals that the UniTeam receives in every rally, as well as the results of pre-election surveys where both BBM and Mayor Sara maintain their huge lead over their fellow candidates.
There is a clamor to have a president and vice president that are united. Imagine what our nation can accomplish if the two highest leaders of the land are working together. The positive energy will redound to the people. It will create a hopeful and productive environment as Filipinos would be encouraged to work together as well.
BBM and Mayor Sara have repeatedly emphasized the need for unity as a first step to overcome the crisis brought about by the pandemic. This will also be crucial as the UniTeam seeks to sustain the growth and development spurred by the current administration of President Duterte, and to bring a more prosperous future for all Filipinos.
While unity is the core message, the UniTeam has also laid out their platform, which focuses on recovering from the pandemic, continuing the “Build, Build, Build” program, enhancing the country’s digital infrastructure, ensure accessible healthcare for all, strengthen agriculture and tourism, and protecting the human capital.
Among the UniTeam’s priorities to strengthen agriculture is research and development. This will include continuing education and training to farmers and fishermen on crops and on new technologies to make them more competitive and give better yield. They will invest in irrigation and implement the Free Irrigation Law; improve agricultural production through agricultural infrastructure, mechanized farming, farm inputs and equipment; and establish food terminals and Kadiwa stores.
BBM and Mayor Sara also vowed to continue President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program to create more jobs. This includes construction of digital towers, railways, bridges and skyways — which, as BBM stressed, will also bridge us closer together. In terms of digital infrastructure, focus will be on improving these to have a more reliable and affordable internet service for consumers, e-commerce, and all that requires online function to operate.
To complement this, UniTeam senatorial candidate Mark Villar, who was the Secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), promised to file a measure that will institutionalize “Build, Build, Build.” It can be recalled that under Secretary Mark’s leadership, the DPWH was able to complete 29,264 kilometers of roads and 5,950 bridges, among other infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build,” which created 6.5 million jobs.
To further increase jobs and livelihood opportunities, BBM stressed the need to revitalize tourism efforts. The UniTeam will push domestic tourism for immediate creation of jobs; increase tourist spots, and improve or build airports, seaports, roads and support local tourist attractions; and strengthen the live events and MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions, exhibitions) industry that generates travel and promotes tourism.
To ensure accessible healthcare for all, the UniTeam will make sure that there will be rural health units with doctors, nurse, and midwife even in the most far-flung areas. They will increase specialty hospitals in the provinces, and strengthen the health information system through digital infrastructure.
BBM also stressed the need to continuously vaccinate all eligible Filipinos against Covid-19, emphasizing that the jabs will lead to more jobs. In line with this, barangay health clinics should employ mass information dissemination campaign on the availability of vaccines and booster shots.