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Opinion

The plus side of election spending

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

With nearly 100 percent of the total votes cast in last Monday’s national and local elections transmitted, there should be no doubt the UniTeam tandem of ex-Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio are the clear winners in the presidential and vice presidential (VP) polls, respectively. Based from unofficial count of election returns all over the country, BBM and Mayor Sara both won by over 31 million votes.

Obviously, Filipino voters recognized the need for the two highest elected leaders of the land to come from the same political group for them to work and serve as a team. We will be having again after a long while a tandem of President and VP coming from the same winning political parties. Under a coalition of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas of BBM and Mayor Sara’s Lakas-CMD party, the UniTeam was forged along with several other major political parties acknowledged by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The coalition included the pro-administration PDP-Laban headed by President Rodrigo Duterte as its nominal chieftain.

The last elected tandem who both run and won under one party were former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ex-Vice President Noli de Castro Lakas-CMD. Unlike Mrs. Arroyo’s controversial one million margin of votes’ victory during the May 2014 elections though, BBM enjoys the widest ever “majority vote” that put him ahead by more than 16 million votes to next closest rival, VP Leni Robredo.

As the presumptive president, BBM will be sworn into office and succeed President Duterte by noon of June 30 this year. On the other hand, presidential daughter Mayor Sara takes over on the same day from Mrs. Robredo at the latter’s Office of the Vice President in Quezon City.

Once he takes his oath of office, BBM’s pending appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) on the case before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) will get moot and academic. Marcos’ lawyers have pending motion for reconsideration to reverse the SC ruling that upheld the dismissal of his PET case against VP Robredo.

With certainty, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. declared the presumptive next president of the country will be able steer the Philippine economy forward amid the challenges ahead in the next six years of BBM’s term. However, Esperon conceded the continuing internal threats posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) still pervades in far-flung parts of the country.

Also, while cases have already scaled down, Esperon added the malingering effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic still pose “clear and present danger” all over the country.

Esperon noted the “record high voter turnout of 88 percent” showed that Filipinos really went out of their way “to express their will” through the election process. “Whether you lost or you won, we will recognize that. But as they say, the decision of the majority must be followed and allowed to prevail,” Esperon exhorted.

Speaking in our Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual news forum, Esperon believes the 64-year old presumptive president has all the experience from Governor to Congressman and Senator that prepared him well for the tasks ahead. Esperon, however, doused fears of supposed economic and political instability in the country under a BBM presidency. Esperon pointed to the directions of certain camps that refuse and still question the final outcome of the elections as those fanning such dire scenario once BBM takes over the helm of the government.

For one, Esperon strongly took exceptions to the downgrade made by J.P. Morgan – an international investments and financial services firm – claiming that the United States (US) purportedly doubts how good or bad its relations with a Marcos presidency would be. As far as he sees it, Esperon believes J.P. Morgan’s investments and financial wizards look at Marcos as a liability for them. “We respect (that).”

“(But) J.P. Morgan has just acknowledged that Marcos has been elected, thank you for that,” Esperon quipped and chortled.

Esperon wondered aloud though where J.P. Morgan – being a giant and is very influential – got its information from which it based their decision to lower the investment grade of Philippines. He argued the J.P. Morgan is “not the ultimate judge of what will become of Philippine business.” There are many other big multinational financial and investment firms doing business with the Philippines that have not made prejudicial judgments, he pointed out.

True enough, the Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research has painted a much fair assessment of policy continuity and smooth transition of government to president-elect Marcos.

Then boom. The presumptive President of the Philippines got a hotline phone call from no less than the US President himself, Joe Biden, to personally congratulate the 64-year old namesake son of the late president. A statement released by the White House later confirmed the conversation between Biden and the young Marcos. “I have also invited President Biden to my inaugural on June 30, which could further fortify the relationship of the two countries,” the presumptive President revealed to the public in an official statement issued from his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

Subsequently, Patricia Anne Javier-Gutierrez, executive director of J.P. Morgan Philippine communications office, issued a press statement yesterday to set the record straight. Gutierrez claimed their May 8 Philippine Strategy report was “misquoted” by the local media that the downgrade was due to the result of the presidential elections here. Quoting verbatim from their press statement, Gutierrez clarified: “Our views on the Philippines are driven by long term global and local macroeconomic fundamentals, and not by election results or outcomes in general.”

But thanks to election spending, our consumption-driven economy grew by 8.3 percent in the first quarter of this year. This should augur well to the return of former tenants at Malacañang.

BONGBONG MARCOS

SARA DUTERTE

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