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Marcos govt needs better ‘messaging’

THE administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lacks the “messaging” to rally the people behind its socioeconomic agenda, a Philippine-based think tank said on Friday.

Shanice Espiritu, Policy and Regulatory manager of the Stratbase ADR Institute, said during the forum, “The Legitimacy of President Marcos, Jr.: Entailing the Need for More Transparent and Accountable Governance,” that the administration does not have a clear message on how it plans to improve bureaucratic efficiency and ensure sound fiscal management.

PRELUDE TO MARCOS SONA Multi-sectoral groups take to the streets of Manila on Friday, June 30, 2023, to protest the first year of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The President is scheduled to deliver his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
PRELUDE TO MARCOS SONA Multi-sectoral groups take to the streets of Manila on Friday, June 30, 2023, to protest the first year of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The President is scheduled to deliver his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

In contrast, President Benigno Aquino 3rd used the catchphrase “Daang Matuwid” and President Rodrigo Duterte used the slogan “Change is coming” to convey to the public the thrust of their government.

Espiritu credited the Marcos administration for laying out an 8-point socioeconomic agenda designed to bring about sweeping reforms in government.

She said the President is on the right track in pushing e-governance and allotting P15.6 billion for digitizing government processes and operations.

Marcos also wants to ensure sound fiscal management through budget reforms such as cash-based budgeting and limiting to one fiscal year the implementation of government projects, Espiritu said.

She said public trust in the Duterte administration eventually eroded after it was plagued by inefficiency and scandal.

Espiritu said Marcos assumed the presidency at a time when the country was still recovering from the economic turmoil brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the President must take a collaborative approach to ensure a transparent, accountable and responsive government for the next five years.

She also recommended that the government be able to call for stronger anti-corruption messaging.

Joining Espiritu in the forum were Prof. Dindo Manhit, Stratbase founder; Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo; Stratbase trustee and program convenor Francisco Magno; Dean of the Ateneo School of Government Randy Tuano; and Dean of the Development Academy of the Philippines' Graduate School of Public and Development Management Lizan Calina.

In his own assessment of President Marcos' first year in office, another political analyst, Dr. Froilan Calilung, said the government is “well on track” to achieving its goals despite the shortcomings it is facing.

Calilung also said the President's concurrence with the “incomplete” grade given him and his Cabinet by critics is proof of his “humility” and resolve to “support mechanisms and better initiatives” to get the country to move forward.

The government needs “to hit the ground running and continue the momentum, and I think the President knows this very well. He himself said that in the first year of his office, a lot of things have yet to be accomplished and a lot of work has to be done,” Calilung said on Friday during a news briefing.

“To me, this shows the humility of the Chief Executive and in pointing out some of the misgivings, some flaws in his government, but, at the same time, there is his firm resolve to focus on and intensify his campaigns to alleviate the living conditions of the people,” he said.

Calilung particularly lauded Marcos' efforts to improve the country's economy, particularly taming inflation.

“Of course, the greatest challenge will always be on the economic front. Of course, we're coming off a pandemic. Right now, we are on a rebound status; it's still difficult. There are still quite a lot of uncertainties not just with our country, but also on an international level,” he said.

Calilung said one of the ways to further boost the economy is by developing the countryside and supporting more agricultural programs.

“The President also knows the importance of revitalizing our economy and is trying to get more foreign direct investments. But these FDIs will not materialize unless we have good infrastructure, better interconnectivity in our country, and with the rule of law followed,” Calilung said.

“All our institutional mechanisms should be all in sync, and I think the President is doing a good job right now in making this possible,” he added.

The President earlier said he and his Cabinet “are not yet done” when it comes to addressing the problems the country faces.

“So, it's never enough. Whatever it is that we have managed to do, there is still a great deal more to do. We have to work smart, and we have to work well, and we have to be very conscious,” Marcos said.

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