Grade of ‘incomplete’ in 1st year? Marcos Jr. agrees

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Grade of �incomplete� in 1st year? Marcos Jr. agrees
RENAISSANCE ART IN THE AGE OF SELFIES: President Marcos and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos are welcomed by Arnold Co, Ruth Co and their US licensor-partner Martin Ballias to the exhibit of Sistine Chapel artworks by Michelangelo at the Estancia mall in Ortigas Center Pasig. ‘You can really see the brushstrokes
Jesse Bustos

‘It’s a work in progress’

MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of his first year in office yesterday, President Marcos said he is resigned to being graded “incomplete” for his achievement as agriculture chief but emphasized fulfilling his campaign promises as Chief Executive “is a work in progress.”

“I saw a report earlier this morning where one of the economists said ‘the grade that I will give the President for agriculture is ‘incomplete.’ I agree with him. We are not yet done. We still have a lot to do. There are many things that we still need to do,” the President told reporters on the sidelines of the launching of Cebuana Lhuillier Kanegosyo Center in Parañaque. He did not name the economist.

“We have to undo 30, 35, almost 40 years of neglect when it comes to the agricultural sector. And the agricultural sector still occupies the most fundamental part of our economy,” he said. Marcos concurrently serves as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

He acknowledged that there is still “a long way to go” in terms of addressing the challenges confronting the country.

“Well, you know the delivering of promises is a work in progress. It’s not something that you say, ‘It’s done. I finished it.’ This is an ongoing process,” the President said.

He maintained that while his administration has achieved a lot, “there is still a great deal more to do” and it has to “work smart” and “work well.”

“And so yes, we have done a lot of work. I think we have seen many of the changes. We are beginning to see the systemic changes that are going to be part of the new bureaucracy. But there’s still a long way to go,” he said.

“We continue to work on the economy to make sure that our basics, our macroeconomic basics are in place,” he added.

Marcos overwhelmingly won during the 2022 elections with 31 million votes, making him the first majority president since 1986. The President has vowed to promote unity, ensure access to affordable food and health care, and create an environment conducive to investments, among other promises.

Marcos said the international situation has changed in terms of trade and geopolitics and the Philippines has to make adjustments.

“And now, it is very clear that the most successful economies are those who are agile and resilient. And that I think we have put in place the basic elements for us to do that,” he added.

Marcos noted that the government is still addressing inflation and has undertaken measures to help the needy.

The President, nevertheless, claimed that the Philippines is now being recognized as an investment destination.

“We should not be insular and think that it is only the Philippines that exists in the world. Let us see, what is our true place in the world. It is not a small thing that’s something that we are redefining. The world looks at the Philippines in a different way now than it did one year ago,” Marcos said.

He said government’s job is to make the structural changes work so that the results can be seen “not only in terms of statistics” but also in the lives of ordinary people.

On the right track

For Speaker Martin Romualdez, President Marcos is on the right track as he completes his first year in office.

“The President did well on Year 1. Keep up the good work, Mr. President,” Romualdez said in a statement.

The Speaker, a maternal cousin of Marcos, said the “most notable” among Marcos’ accomplishments were “in the areas of helping ordinary Filipinos, sustaining economic growth, promoting the country as an investment destination, and in foreign relations.”

The Speaker said Marcos did his best in trying to address the Filipinos’ everyday concerns like rising consumer prices and lack of housing.

“Shortly after assuming office, he was confronted with spikes in the price of certain commodities like onions, which were selling for as much as P800 a kilo, and the basic staple rice,” the Leyte congressman said.

Through a combination of measures, and with the help of Congress, the administration was able to bring down and stabilize the price of onions and rice, Romualdez pointed out.

Another administration stalwart, Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, credited Marcos for his “above par performance” in his first year in office during which he “made notable breakthroughs” in governance.

“President Marcos has performed above par as Chief Executive, with his first year in office distinguished by notable breakthroughs in his overriding promise of more jobs and better lives for our people,” he said.

Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party, also credited Marcos for “an economy that is not only strong and resilient but also inclusive and sustainable.” He observed it “has been a short learning curve” for the President.

He added the Marcos administration, in its first year, “reported a higher employment rate, generated local and foreign direct investments, and pushed business-friendlier reforms that create even more jobs.”

Day of protest

As Marcos marks his first year in office today, militant groups are poised to assemble today in protest.

Led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the protesters have organized a march from España Ave. to the Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang.

They will carry a banner with the message “Mahal in the Philippines,” an apparent swipe at the government’s new tourism slogan “Love the Philippines.”

“The protest banner alludes to the surging inflation and high cost of living in the past year amid the failure of the Marcos Jr.’s government to address the economic uncertainty and its inaction over the demand of workers to raise the minimum wage,” Bayan president Renato Reyes said in a statement.

Reyes described Marcos’ first year as a period of anti-people and anti-poor policies when most Filipinos remain poor while the President and his family indulge in lavish parties and foreign trips.

“Majority Filipinos are suffering from hunger, insecure jobs, lost livelihoods, and inadequate social services,” he said.

In Quezon City, victims of human rights abuses during the dictatorship of Marcos’ father demanded the release of political prisoners.

The activity, dubbed as Breaking Change, Reclaiming Freedom from Marcos Sr. to Marcos Jr., was held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto said there are 778 political prisoners in the country, with 49 arrested during the first year of Marcos’ term.

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women also denounced the Marcos administration for the “increasing cases of illegal arrest and detention” of activists on trumped-up charges.

“He’s only one year in office but 26 peasant women have already been illegally arrested,” Amihan chairperson Zenaida Soriano said in a statement in Filipino.

For labor groups, it was a failing grade for Marcos, whom they accused of not doing enough to improve the lives of workers.

Aside from not getting any salary increase, workers under the Marcos administration have suffered numerous violations of their right to organize, they said.

Even government workers were not immune to acts of violation of the Freedom of Association (FOA), according to Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees president Ferdinand Gaite. He said Marcos should immediately take action to make sure FOA is strictly observed.

The All Philippine Trade Union said Filipino workers were “underdog victims” of anti-worker policies under the Marcos administration.

The group has also expressed concern over the Department of Labor and Employment’s inability to address workers’ rights violations. Delon Porcalla, Emmanuel Tupas, Mayen Jaymalin

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