By Tony Lopez | Manila Standard Today
Of the seven or eight declared or undeclared presidential candidates, only Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has come up with policy or program of government, a fighting faith he must pursue if ever he becomes vice president or president.
Nearly all the other presidential wannabes are frustratingly one dimensional – Mar Roxas will continue Matuwid na Daan, VP Jojo Binay will parlay his Makati experience nationwide, Grace Poe is the new Virgin Mary and Mother Teresa of dirty politics, Rodrigo Duterte will eliminate all the criminals and drown them in polluted Manila Bay, and Ping Lacson will pursue peace and order and won’t touch pork barrel.
Hardly anyone talks about how he or she will create two million jobs per year, reduce or eliminate poverty at 5 percentage points per year, or how the Philippines can regain its capacity to compete as a modern economy.
In this second and last part of his speech before CEOs recently, the only son and namesake of the country’s longest serving and, many now say, the best president of the Philippines, tells us why he is in favor of the freedom of information bill, meritocracy in government (no favoritism, no corruption, and which he says will lead to peace and order) including the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; an upgraded armed forces; boosting infrastructure and mass transit systems, and why government must lower the prices of electricity, telephony and water; the cost of doing business, and taxes.
In his Asia CEO speech, Bongbong showed an amazing grasp of issues –ranging from galunggong to guns.
The Freedom of Information Act, he says, “is a tool to build trust—something that we have to rebuild in our country as we have been set in a political system and even in a social system where we must take sides against each other. The FOI is a tool that encourages government to carry out its mandates honestly, competently, and with due regard to all stakeholders in critical issues and challenges facing the nation. Government cannot, after all, exhort those it serves to practice discipline and follow the law if it does not set the example by respecting the separation of authority and responsibilities of the individual branches of government, or to utilize collaborative tools like the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, or LEDAC, or pursue long-overdue peace arrangements with enemies of the state with a sincere objective to improve the lives of all who are affected by any such conflict.”
“Neither the people nor you, as leaders of our vibrant business sector, can have the confidence and trust in the competence and commitment of government as a partner in advancing the nation if doubt is created by perceptions of corruption, of lack of ability, or of favoritism towards special interests,” Bongbong points out.
Meanwhile, you need meritocracy “if the next administration is to succeed.” “The next leader should surround himself or herself with the best of the best in the Cabinet. Our country is blessed with such great human talent and we must engage that great human talent in the service of nation-building. Meritocracy must govern all appointments, not only in high-level appointments, but throughout the entire bureaucracy.”
Bongbong says the critical top leadership positions in our AFP and the PNP will no longer be subject to the “revolving-door policy,” wherein, for political considerations, just make up a queue and say you will be the head for six months, and then the next, and next, and next, immaterial of what your performance has been or if you have shown any special qualities that put you above the rank and file.
Marcos told the CEOs: “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 Filipinos. It is the firm foundation that we need to be able to ask you, the business leaders of our country, to take the lead in nation-building for all Filipinos. It is the firm foundation we need to be able to help you in that role, and to create a business environment of more opportunities for investors, an environment in which innovation, competition, and customer choice, value-added, drives our growth, and an environment in which businesses and consumers alike can be confident in fair, consistent, and uncompromised regulation.”
On electricity, whose price is the second highest in Asia, Bongbong wont allow firms “to pass on to consumers costs not directly connected to the production and delivery of the commodity they are purchasing.” Like corporate income taxes, capital expenditures for the development and roll-out of a prepaid electricity program that already provides electricity distributors with the bonus of guaranteed, up-front income, and further traps poor consumers in a subsistence-level existence; ‘system losses’ due to inefficiency, poor maintenance, or outright thievery, and cost such as the electricity used to power the electric generator’s or distributor’s own facilities.
On another front, Bongbong is aghast that a duopoly has captured telecom. “We are forced to tolerate service that is consistently rated as some of the worst in the world, and some of the highest-priced,” he winces. “A reliable, competitively-priced telecommunications system whose performance is on par with our partners and competitors throughout the region is not just a matter of convenience; it is a matter of national security,” he contends.
Right away, Senator Marcos is challenging Big Business and the oligarchy which has stranglehold on major businesses like electricity, telecom, water, infra and banks, and their brand of capitalism.
Courageous is the politician who sounds like he is a socialist, proletariat, anti-Big Business, and a reformer while still out of power.
There is only one conclusion I make of Marcos’s statements – he will finance his own candidacy and will not be a captive of entrenched vested interests. The Marcos name remains a strong brand in politics. The more it resonates now considering the presidents we have had in the last 30 years.