OpinionsBow and ArrowA risen Philippines

A risen Philippines

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Late January this year, the Bagong Pilipinas campaign was launched by President BBM at Quirino Grandstand.  It focuses on an all-inclusive plan for economic and social transformation.

As a concept, Bagong Pilipinas appears to serve as the administration’s brand of governance and leadership that calls for deep and fundamental transformation in all sectors of society and government.

In his speech, the President emphasized that BP is not a political game plan that caters to the privileged few but rather a master plan for genuine development that benefits all the Filipino people.

He stressed that Bagong Pilipinas is not a new partisan coalition in disguise but it is a set of ideals that all Filipinos, regardless of political creed or religion or wealth can coalesce around. It intends to narrow political interests and serve the people.

The President explained the purpose of the program shooting down rumors that it is the administration’s new political machinery.

The launching of the Bagong Pilipinas, however, has elicited varied apprehensions and criticisms from the masses mainly for its purpose and objectives.

Some sectors have criticized the rally as a front for the People’s Initiative signature drive to amend the Constitution. It was also called by progressive groups as a “waste of people’s resources” and an “expensive PR blitz to cover up the crisis the country is facing”.

Other groups said it fails to address the root causes of their struggles and offers no real solutions to the country’s problems.

Allegedly, it is a superficial rebranding which lacks concrete steps to address the economic crisis such as inflation nor specific action to curb corruption.  The critics say the reforms are no more than skin-deep.

This government rebranding may help us look to a renewed perspective from its common notions as corrupt and hopeless. As the President said, “It is an invitation to all of us to think about being a Filipino and view the nation from a renewed perspective. It is a call to transformation.”

It is a goal of good governance by the present administration to improve efficiency in all government transactions, maximizing the services to the people, as President Marcos said in his speech, that the program desires to replace red tape to red carpet, to replace government worker grumpy faces into smiley and approachable ones.

Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros  noticed the similarity between Bagong Pilipinas and “Bagong Lipunan” which, she said, revived memories of corruption and human rights abuses. She advised the government to focus on delivering real reforms instead of being fixated on logo changes.

“No amount of branding can substitute for systems and institutions that truly level the playing field; no amount of branding can guarantee the end of economic inequality; no amount of branding can ensure that the wealth and progress of our country is felt by all, not only by a few,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

One of my graduate students commented that, “President Marcos Jr’s. 23-36 minute speech was too shallow. There was never really a solid program presented. On the later part of his statement, he highlighted that his administration shall succeed with the people’s participation and requires everyone to work very hard. I surely know people have done their part. Now, it’s his turn to walk the talk.”

The challenges of Bagong Pilipinas are daunting.Corruption, which is a perennial problem that the current administration is facing, is prevalent and its biggest challenge. The Philippines ranks #115 among 180 counties in the 2023 Corruption Perception Index.

The Philippines is less attractive to potential investors. Its foreign direct investment is among the lowest in the ASEAN. Poor infrastructure, high power costs, slow broadband connections, regulatory inconsistencies, corruption and political instability are major disincentives to investment. The Philippines’ complex, slow, and sometimes corrupt judicial system inhibits the timely and fair resolution of commercial disputes.

The most powerful countries in Indo-Pacific based on Asia Power Index (2022) across eight thematic which included resources (economic capability, military capability, resilience, future resources) and influence (economic relationships, defense networks, diplomatic influence and cultural influence) from highest to lowest are: USA, China, Japan, India, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Pakistan.

Based on these, the Philippines is considered weak, ranked only 16th, and beaten by Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

In 2023, Philippine education ended up among the countries that produced the lowest proficiency for 15 year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science, as indicated by the PISA rankings. The country ranked 77th out of 81 countries globally.

The first (hope not the last) major provincial launching of the Bagong Pilipinas was a serbisyo fair in one of the provinces in the Visayas.

It was reported that barangay officials under the incumbent provincial leadership were given the task to give a list of beneficiaries for the Assistance to Individuals during Crisis Situations with certain number of beneficiaries allotted for the province at P2,000 each.

As usual these local officials prioritized their immediate family members, and those who were listed as their supporters during the recent election. Allegedly, beneficiaries of the other services provided were members of the party of the incumbent leaders.

Is  serbisyo fair allegedly tainted with much partisan politics the answer to the challenges of Bagong Pilipinas?

A program with a clear and exemplary purpose but along the process is stained by corrupt practices is still a failure. Though it is a product of those leaders who are thinking outside the box on how to reach out to the needs of the people in effective and efficient ways but if those who were given privilege to serve choose to continue to prioritize to their own advantage then it is mere useless.

It is the fervent prayer of those who lead the Bagong Pilipinas that the main barrier for the development of our country which is the mistrust of the people to our institutions and agencies will be eradicated. With this clear evidence that we heard and witnessed from the community, our nation may still and may continue to suffer from the injustices driven by those who were given the opportunity to serve the people.

With the risen Christ, can we be hopeful of a Risen Philippines?

_______________________________

Author’s email: pligutom@yahoo.com

 

 

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