You would think, Reader, that anyone who had the confidence/temerity to run for the presidency of a country of 110 million people (and counting) would have, at the ready, his/her plan to get the country out of the education and health crises we are experiencing, let alone how to get our per capita GDP back on track after losing four-five years of growth with this pandemic and the lousy way it has been managed. Especially if they had expressed their intentions so early on.
But if you thought that, Reader, you thought wrong. I visited the official websites of the serious presidential candidates—Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Bongbong Marcos—the names are listed in the order of their current official status.
I did the rounds of them because I wanted to have an idea of what their socioeconomic (development) plans were for the country. It is not only what they plan to do that is important, of course. Equally important is their ability to implement these plans, and see them through. But let’s talk about their plans.
Senator Pacquiao’s official website turned to be all about boxing, about “MP8” items—apparently the website takes orders for the stuff. Not a single word about what he would do if he were president. Maybe there’s another website that contains this material, but my admittedly below-standard computer skills did not find it.
Bongbong Marcos’ website did not include his program of government. It did though have his “timeline” (CV); his accomplishments (as an executive and as legislator), including his speech defending his nay vote on the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona; a “media center” which faithfully chronicles all his speeches, interviews, and videos; and his “VP Election Protest” quite a large portion of his website. Not a single word about what he would do for the country as president.
Next, we have Senator Lacson’s website, and it did have like half-a-page worth on what his program of government would be. Senator Lacson says it can be characterized in three words: It is concrete, implementable, and future-proof. Good sound bites. He described it as being “anchored” on bureaucratic and fiscal discipline, as well as leadership by example. Even better. And he said it will lead to good governance.
But what “it” is, is nowhere to be found. Although I was much struck by his “leadership by example” and I could not help the thought creeping into my mind: What examples of leadership has the senator given?
He was all but accused by Sen. Raul Roco and his committee of murder in the Kuratong Baleleng massacre. There was the civilian agent Mary Ong, aka “Rosebud,” who linked him to illegal drugs and kidnap-for-ransom activities, plus the EJKs (Bubby Dacer). He also evaded a warrant of arrest issued by government authorities. Further, he was mentioned by Amnesty International as being a torturer, when he was a sidekick to the infamous Col. Rolando Abadilla of the Marcos dictatorship. That’s the minus side.
On the plus side, he refused any of the pork barrel allocated to him, and he has blown the whistle on a lot of budget shenanigans during his senatorial stints. So you decide, Reader, on whether he can lead by example.
Fourth, we have Mayor Isko. And yes, he has a program of government called “Bilis Kilos: 10-Point Agenda” which includes Housing, Education, Labor and Employment, Health, Tourism and Creatives, Infrastructures (sic), Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0, Agriculture, Good Governance and Smart Governance.
But other than listing these “points,” together with one-sentence explanations (example: under Housing, it says “Bahay na matibay, inaalagaan ang buhay”), there is only a “before and after” picture to clarify what these points are, some of which are not too enlightening.
Finally, we go to lenirobredo.com, and the difference is almost palpable. No self-aggrandizement or defense, or self-serving press releases. The website so far has only two items: Her program of government, “Hanapbuhay Para Sa Lahat,” and her “Kalayaan sa COVID-19” health plan. The immediate answer to the questions how do we get out of the economic mess and the health mess. Both well explained, with rationales and data where necessary, and specific measures that she intends to undertake.
She certainly did her homework. Like always. She has plans. Can she implement them?
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