Eyes Wide Open in the Coming Elections

I normally reserve this space for my musings on my professional interests. Today, I write as a Filipino citizen.

Many of my friends treat the candidacy of Mar Roxas as a referendum on the administration of Noynoy Aquino and rightfully so. Mar has been an indispensable driving force for the programs of the government over the last six years and is accountable to a large degree for its successes and failures.

Let me get the failures out of the way first. I have been a vocal critic in social media of the ineptitude in transportation and traffic management and more particularly of the airport administration. The “achievements” in this areas have been mostly too little too late. That said, no administration in the past, present or future can be perfect. I say continue to criticize but be mindful that the quest for Shangri-La is only for naive dreamers.

Nobody can deny that the Aquino administration has managed to burnish the country’s credibility in public governance and economic management, particularly among the country’s trading partners, foreign investors and creditors. This is no small feat and the impact of this accomplishment is significant in our global economy. Our public debt management is under firm control. The country is the absolute darling of the global credit markets and we have achieved an investment-grade rating that no one would have even dreamed of before this current government. We all would like to see the investment in infrastructure, in public health and safety, in grassroots livelihood and poverty reduction. What the Aquino administration has managed to accomplish is ensuring the health of our public finance so that all that is good and right can now be delivered by the next government – without the need to hock the future of our children to our creditors.

We have seen the highest average growth rates ever of the Philippine economy on the back of “Daang Matuwid”. No government can deliver the needs of its citizenry by itself and would always need the private sector to move lockstep with it. At the GDP growth we have achieved, the private sector now has the ability to match the programs of government. The next government will have to then focus on ensuring that the economic growth can now trickle – perhaps even pour – down to the poorest sectors of our economy. Which brings us to the Presidential elections.

I fully understand how many of my friends hanker for the change that will bring about greater equity in our society. The economic elite of this country has not been known for its concern for the masses and that is putting things mildly. I fully understand the yearning for BIG CHANGE.

I can see that many of us equate continuity with indifference to the plight of the country’s countless needy. This is a fair concern. But let us not be pushed towards a reckless path just because we are fed up.

Duterte means big change. Or at least this is the rallying cry of his more rational supporters. Is it a change towards the right direction? Allow me to ask a few questions that could perhaps be the start of a more meaningful debate among the supporters of the Presidential candidates.

We want an end to corruption. The Aquino administration has taken the boldest steps of any Philippine government in this respect. Not enough, you say? Duterte can do better? How can an individual who nonchalantly declares that he has been cheating (copying) since Grade One have the moral compass to do more? This candidate thinks that revealing this tidbit is even amusing and charming!

We want to see an end to impunity and to the senseless killing of reporters and the helpless communities that they are trying to defend. We need the Freedom of Information Law and many other initiatives towards a fairer society. Sadly, we have seen how Duterte has been contemptuous of his obligation for greater transparency. A “magbubukid” named Emilio Aguinaldo? C’mon, have you ever seen anything as condescending and insulting of the voting public as that exchange in the last Presidential debate?

We want a government that is inclusive and fair.   The crass joke about raping a missionary is outrageous and despicable. I do not know of a single decent person who will cross that line under any circumstance. Certainly, none of my friends who profess to support Duterte. This candidate even has the nerve to demonstrate righteous anger with the backlash to his comments and even dares to insult our intelligence by justifying his act by saying he lost his temper? God help us, indeed.

We want a government that can act and deliver on its promises. Good public administration requires quiet toil, long preparation, consistency and steadfastness,  and incredible amounts of patient, hard work. Is this something that we can expect from someone who cannot even be bothered to prepare for a two and half hour Presidential debate? Someone who even facetiously claims that the debate questions were leaked to Mar beforehand? What a juvenile! The questions were about the most important issues of the land and each candidate is expected to have done his homework not just for the debate, but for the far more important task of governing 100 million Filipinos. Someone should ask the impatient and simplistic Duterte how fiscal policy should adjust to the fluctuations of the Philippine Peso in a case where extractive industries will be allowed to expand. I’m sure I would laugh out loud if I did not cry first.

Mar was the only candidate in that last debate who was well prepared and  could hit the ground running. End of story.

Let me end with an insight that I have in my own professional life. I realize that the company that I work for is good but is not perfect. It cannot offer all the opportunities for all its staff all the time – No company can. Because of this I need to make sure that I listen to every employee that asks for permission to leave and pursue opportunities somewhere else. In these conversations, I make sure that I understand what it is in our company that pushes the employees towards the new job quite apart from the intrinsic attraction of the new job itself. Whenever the “push” is greater than the “pull”, I ask the person to step back and reconsider because this situation is always a formula for career disaster.

Let me address my dear friends now. No government is perfect. No government can offer all the opportunities to all its citizens all the time – no matter how hard it tries. I realize the urgency, given the oppressive poverty in our country. I know that at some point, I will end up criticizing Mar and some his policies. But I will not be pushed into a desperate act of supporting a charlatan like Duterte just because the continuity being promised by Mar and Leni is not perfect.

Mar and Leni are the only viable candidates to lead the country in the next six years.

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12 thoughts on “Eyes Wide Open in the Coming Elections

  1. Spoken like a true elitist. I’m sorry sir but the masses do not compose mainly of the elite. The masses are poor and have no care in how richer the rich become. You may have been accustomed to serving yourself and improving what you are that you forget to look at everybody else. Everybody else is suffering sir, out of your gated community there are bad people. We walk the streets from work fearful of every step we take, that at any given moment we may get robbed, harassed or killed just because somebody decided to take too much meth that day.

    Vote for the candidate who you think will give you what you need, but as for everybody else, we need Duterte.

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    • Wrong profile po kayo. I sent myself to school through scholarships and I don’t live in a gated community. I had to borrow from Pag-Ibig to buy a house. It is wrong to think that only rich people support Mar.

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      • HAHAHA, that’s the problem with many DU30 supporters: they erroneously characterize and generalize pro-ROROs as snooty elitists. Honestly, I’d rather choose someone to lead this nation who recognizes and respects the principle of rule of law than someone who flaunts his criminal and savage tendencies, and fraudulently promises the moon.

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    • Our public debt management is under firm control. Are you serious? Then, why did our national debt ballooned to P6.4Trillion, sir and if we are now more than 100million Filipinos, how much is our present GNP and each one will pay? Please tell I pray.

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      • How can you tell whether the Aquino government has carefully managed its borrowings? Well, it should not borrow beyond its means. (We have certainly managed the level of our debt to what we can realistically pay). It should set aside enough cash to meet every payment; to do this well, it needs to closely control debt features such as maturity and duration. The type of loan, the currency, and the creditor are also matters to decide carefully. To make a long story short, this evaluation is very difficult to do. Fortunately there are independent experts who perform this kind of work: the international credit rating agencies such as Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s. And these rating agencies are unanimous in heaping praise on the Aquino administration’s debt management practices – enough to rate the country as being investment grade for the first time ever in the modern history of the country! Just one more point: The government needs to demonstrate that it can carefully use the money it borrowed to meet the needs of its people and not just waste the cash on “happy happy.”

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  2. It’s a great article! My only wish is for it to be translated into Tagalog so that people who are not fluent in English can understand your point. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maraming salamat, Rene. Tinatanggap ko ang iyong mungkahi at pasensiya na lamang dahil mas madaling ipaliwanag ang aking kuro-kuro sa wikang ingles. Ang buod ng aking sinabi ay ganito lamang: Ang pamumuno ni Mar at ni Leni ay hindi magiging “perfect”. Ngunit sa lahat ng tumatakbo, si Mar at si Leni lamang ang nagpakita ng kakayahan, karanasan, tiyaga at sinseridad tungo sa mabuting pangangasiwa. Sa pamamagitan ng masusi and mahinahong pakikinig pa lamang sa mga binitawang salita ng mga kandidato sa nakaraang Presidential Debate, naging malinaw ang mga pagkukulang ng mga ibang kandidato lalo na si Duterte. Ikalulugod ko na sagutin ang anumang katanungan kung mayroon akong nasabi dito na hindi maliwanag sa tagabasa.

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  3. thank you for the paliwanag, lalong lumiliwanag. ha ha. we can disagree without being disagreeable. the Phil is now a lender, now just a borrower.

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  4. this is the discussion that we should be having. I wish the supporters of the other candidates can articulate their defense of their choice this way.

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