Manila Bulletin : New administration, same challenges

By Senator Francis Tolentino | Manila Bulletin

‘TOL VIEWS

In a couple of weeks, the Philippines will be celebrating the 133rd anniversary of the proclamation of its independence. On 12 June 1989, our revolutionary leaders gathered in the city of Cavite where General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed, with pride, the country’s freedom from the grasps of Spain. As with any change of rule or government comes a promise of uplifting the country and the lives of its people. We see this today in every election where a candidate’s platform and slogan provide a glimpse of what the Philippines will be like with that candidate at its helm.

A leader’s message to his or her constituents reflects the people’s concerns and priorities and the most pressing challenges and fears that currently face a nation.
This is seen from previous leaders and statesmen that graced our history.

For instance, in 1935, President Manuel L. Quezon’s inauguration speech, in the midst of American colonization of the Philippines, encouraged Filipinos to observe and promote peace to prove to the United States (US) our capability to establish our own independent government. He spoke of promoting Philippine independence and at the same time the preservation of good relations with the US – a balancing of interests most pressing during those times.

In 1946, President Manuel A. Roxas gave messages of hope to the Filipinos – promising jobs, rebuilding infrastructures and institutions, and focusing on the health and safety of the people. His campaign for the presidency, in the midst of paralysis by the end of World War II, focused on rehabilitation of the country and the revival of the economy.

Then there’s President Carlos P. Garcia’s “Filipino First” policy, which promoted the Filipino’s dominant and major participation in our own national economy following the realization of a still semi-colonial economy post-World War II.

Fast forward to the 21st century, we see President Joseph Estrada’s “Erap para sa mahirap” and President Benigno Aquino III’s “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”

Lastly and more recently, there is the message on “unity” promoted by President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. in an aim to address the division brought about by the recent elections. This message was coupled with “Babangon muli,” somewhat with a similarity to his father, President Ferdinand Marcos’ famous line “This nation can be great again.”

From a survey of these previous messages and platforms, you will see what challenges and concerns Filipinos face at that given time. After all, those messages and platforms were surely an influential variable in winning the votes of the people.

It is my view that these challenges transcend time. Despite a new administration, a new chief executive, and a new set of Cabinet members, the same issues still plague our nation. Though lessened to an extent with good governance, issues like unemployment, poverty, threats to peace and security, economic downturn, and the like, are still present to date. The new administration inherits the battles faced by our previous set of leaders, with the latter’s experiences to serve as valuable insights moving forward.
Attaining progress for the country in all aspects – a herculean task – would need the joint efforts of all stakeholders. It is the responsibility not just of our leaders but also of the Filipinos – a majority of whom united to elect Marcos, Jr. to lead us to a better country as we usher in a new era of growth post-pandemic.