The Philippine Star : The Filipino has spoken, and now we must work together

By Joey Concepcion | The Philippine Star

The dust has barely settled on the May 9 elections and already we are seeing and hearing so many divergent views. It is mostly fueled by the mismatch between perception and reality.

My own mother called me up as the numbers started coming in, showing a clear trend in favor of Bongbong Marcos. “What is happening?” she asked me. I told her, the people have spoken and let known their decision, and now it is our duty to respect that.

I understand my mother’s concern. You see, my father, Jose “Joecon” Concepcion Jr., was an industrialist who was at the head of one of the biggest Filipino conglomerates when he chose to ensure free and honest elections, and took it upon himself to found the election watchdog NAMFREL during the 1986 snap elections.

Sentiments then were, as they are now, very high. But in 1986, there was Joecon, out in the open, in the middle of a highly controversial election but still choosing to buckle down to work by rallying volunteers, encouraging them to become poll watchers and become part of a massive quick-count to provide a check on the official vote tallies.

Although Joecon was one of those arrested during Martial Law, he understood that his loyalty is to the country. While my father could have chosen to uproot his family and start fresh in another country, he chose to stay – no doubt not without hearing a word or two from my mother, who often played devil’s advocate during such crucial decision points. He was very visible all throughout the People Power Revolution.

So you can see now how my family and the Marcoses have a shared history. With our paths now crossing once more, I believe it is an opportunity for our generation to see how we can finally work together. This is especially important if we are to uplift the country’s MSMEs, who make up 99.5 percent of the enterprises in the country and employ almost 60 percent of Filipinos. Judging from how the country voted, it would be safe to say that many MSMEs believe Bongbong Marcos can help them.

Bongbong Marcos received the first majority vote for a president of the Philippines since the time of the elder Marcos. The number of votes (now past 31 million from the partial unofficial count of the Comelec transparency server) is now practically twice that of the still-popular Duterte. With such a strong mandate, there is an opportunity for successful economic reform, with both the public and Congress behind him.

Bongbong Marcos must have said something or is seen to represent something that resonated with 31 million Filipinos. For many of our kababayans, their vote is the only time they can share their sentiments. They have no means to buy airtime, and some can barely write a letter, let alone go online and rant on Facebook. They could not participate in rallies because they probably did not hear about it, lived too far from the city centers, or simply had work to do that day or children to care for that night. Or they had already made up their minds and decided that they would express it on election day.

Gather these votes and they will tell you what is in the hearts and minds of the unheard millions. They must be heard. Those who differ in opinion can rant and rave and be angry all they want, but in the end – and the dissenters will hate this phrase – we must respect the vote.

When he was interviewed during Go Negosyo’s Kandidatalks series in the weeks leading up to the elections, he spoke of bringing back a sense of nationhood, a shared consciousness among Filipinos that would define and describe the Filipino identity, and inspire pride in the country.

Millions of Filipinos, united behind one leader, can do wonders for this country. A leader that has the attention and the vote of the vast majority of Filipinos, many of whom continue to be underrepresented and unheard. Many of these Filipinos see entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty. It is where industry, ingenuity, and grit can get you farther than you would as an employee. Entrepreneurship is where they have a fair chance at social and economic mobility. It is a level field, very much like the elections, where a poor man’s vote counts as much as a rich man’s.

During the Kandidatalks series, Marcos said MSMEs deliver the most impact on society, because any effort to help them will be felt immediately, even by the big corporations. He said many Filipinos are willing to work and become entrepreneurs, but they will need our help.

He recognized how organizations like Go Negosyo can help mentor them in business, and how the government can help by allocating a portion of the Internal Revenue Allotment to help MSMEs. He saw that taxes must be rationalized for the benefit of small entrepreneurs, and how agriculture, given support in terms of loans and R&D and infrastructure, can succeed in its role as a foundation of our country’s industrialization.

He has the attention and the vote of the underprivileged and the underrepresented. Some of our countrymen still sit at the opposing end, but I am sure they have something to contribute. For unity to be reality, we must reach out and include everyone, even our opponents.

We have very little choice at this point. COVID is unpredictable and may yet spring a surprise, and it seems like the Ukraine crisis might just drag on and continue to wreak havoc on the global economy. Everywhere there is uncertainty.

Whatever we feel about our new president, we must get our act together and support this government. It is the wish of more than 31 million Filipinos and we must listen.