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Opinion

Marcos Jr.’s mantra: Unity, dialogue, respect

AT GROUND LEVEL - Satur C. Ocampo - The Philippine Star

Those words, or that mantra, got repeatedly mentioned by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his inaugural speech Thursday, after being sworn into office as the Philippines’ 17th president, at the façade of the National Museum in Manila.

“We shall seek, not scorn, dialogue, listen respectfully to contrary views, be open to suggestions coming from hard thinking and unsparing judgment but always from us Filipinos. We can trust no one else when it comes to what is best for us,” he said, adding, “Past history has often proven that.”

“Let us all be part of the solution that we choose [in resolving our national problems]. In that lies the power to get it done, always to be open to differing views but ever united in our chosen goal,” he stressed. Elsewhere in his speech, he recalled his reflections during the presidential campaign that led to his resolve “never ever give up hope for reconciliation.”

Oddly, while reiterating his campaign stance “not to talk about the past” but about the future, Marcos Jr. repeatedly referred to some of what his father had done during his prolonged authoritarian rule and which he vowed to emulate.

“I once knew a man who saw what little have been achieved since independence in a land of people with the greatest potential for achievement. And yet they were poor. But he got it done, sometimes with the needed support; sometimes, without. So will it be with his son,” he declared. Quickly, he added, “You will get no excuses from me.”

One action with long-term devastating consequences that Marcos Sr. took without the people’s support, without even pre-warning to them, was his declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972.

Can, therefore, the Filipino people feel assured that these pronouncements by the son would remain firm – and conscientiously adhered to – throughout the Marcos Jr. presidency?

Let’s go over other excerpts from the text of the inaugural speech provided to the media:

• “By your vote, you rejected the politics of division. I offended none of my rivals in this campaign, I listened instead to what they were saying and I saw little incompatibility with my own ideas about jobs, fair wages, personal safety and national strength and ending want in a land of plenty.”

So where comes the “politics of division” Marcos Jr. alleged was rejected by the voters? And would the pursuit of reconciliation pertain only to his rivals in the presidential election?

• “You picked me to be your servant to enable changes to benefit all. I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility that you’ve put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly but I’m ready for the task. I will need your help. I want to rely on it but rest assured I do not predicate success on the wider cooperation that’s needed. I will get (the task) done.

“There are hints of a road not taken that could get us out of here quicker, to something better, something less fragile. There is also what you, the people, did to cope [with the pandemic and its harsh economic impacts] but this time empowered by new technologies and more resources. You got by, getting some of what you needed with massive government help. And for this I thank my predecessor for the courage of his hard decisions. But there is a way… more means and choices in your hands. I trust the Filipino.”

• “But again, I will not predicate my promise to you on your cooperation. You have your own lives to live, your work to do and there too, I will help. Government will get as much done alone without requiring more from you. No excuses. Just deliver. It was like that, once upon a time.” He was referring to how supposedly it was during his father’s regime.

Marcos Jr. promised to tell the Filipino people in his forthcoming State of the Nation Address later this month “exactly how we shall get this done.”

• “Our future we decide today, yesterday cannot make that decision anymore, nor can tomorrow delay it. The sooner we start, the surer and quicker the prospect of achieving the future. We are presently drawing up a comprehensive all-inclusive plan for economic transformation. We will build back better by doing things in the light of experiences that we have had, both good and bad; it doesn’t matter.”

This, of course, requires looking back seriously to identify the weaknesses and errors that need to be strengthened or rectified. Marcos Jr. clarified:

“No looking back in anger or nostalgia. [But can that be the case if there’s no admission of misdeeds nor apologies, to say the least?] In the road ahead, the immediate months will be rough but I will walk that road with you…”

Marcos Jr. heaped fulsome plaudits on his father and his predecessor for having built “more and better roads” than those of all the administrations ahead of them. Following their steps, he said, his administration “will continue to build, I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started, without taking credit for doing so.”

His administration will present a comprehensive infrastructure plan to be carried out during his six-year term. “No part of our country will be neglected. Progress will be made wherever there are Filipinos, so no investment is wasted,” he assured.

He also assured actions to address food self-sufficiency, which he noted had been the “key promise in agriculture by every administration. None, but one, delivered,” he said – again referring to his father as the one who delivered during the early part of his 20 years in power. As for the rest, it was another story.

Deafeningly silent, however, was Marcos Jr. on national security management and its criminal consequences: foremost of which is the impunity enjoyed by state security forces in perpetrating massive human rights violations, under all administrations beginning with the Marcos dictatorship.

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Email: [email protected]

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

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