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Congress, the body Constitutionally mandated to canvass the votes for President and Vice President, has officially proclaimed Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte as the victors of the recently concluded May 2022 national elections.


The Congressional proclamation is significant for two reasons. First, it formally puts an end to the divisive electoral campaign that preceeded the vote on May 12. After all the propaganda wars, the most important aspect of the elections—the will of the Filipino people—has finally been recognized. The proclamation confirmed the “quick count” we witnessed hours after the polls closed. And for all the baseless allegations of cheating and fraud, the two Houses of the people have affirmed that Philippine democracy, for all its challenges, is working. This is not just a victory for the UniTeam. It is a triumph of democracy.


Second, the Congressional fiat was done with remarkable efficiency. Members of both Houses of Congress took only two days to finish their job. And for that they need to be congratulated. But commendations are also in order to both Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and all the other candidates who conceded swiftly and posed no objections to the canvassing process. In most cases, statesmanship is best seen in defeat rather than victory.



Even as the canvassing was going on, President-elect Bongbong Marcos hit the ground running and began to assemble his Cabinet. I must say that, in general, I was impressed by BBM’s prospective Cabinet and by his initial pronouncements. His economic team, for instance, is composed of seasoned and competent economic managers who are all respected by the business community here and abroad.



More than the individual brilliance of his appointments it is the projection of continuity that impressed me the most. This was crucial in ensuring that economic policies will remain stable and the earth-shaking victory of a new president will lead to a calm and predictable economic agenda.



The temperament displayed by BBM as president, at least in his initial decisions, is remarkable. He appointed his vice president to an important Cabinet post ensuring that the second in command is not merely a “spare tire” in his administration. He appointed excellent economic managers to steer the country through troubled times.



The President-elect also stated that he will “expand and improve” the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Rodrigo Duterte. In my mind, this was the most important decision for the newly elected president. Infrastructure creates jobs, it is “tangible” so it inspires confidence from people, investors, and the business community.



To top it all, Bongbong has stated that his new administration will prioritize micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and will take steps to further improve the ease of doing business in the country. These are music to my ears. In the middle of the worst phase of the pandemic, MSMEs were one of the hardest hit sectors in the country.



As we begin the process of economic recovery, small entrepreneurs will play a crucial role in reviving employment and economic activity. Bongbong knows this. In my past discussions with him, he has clearly demonstrated his bias towards small businesses. He is not merely using it as campaign rhetoric. He truly believes in the power of small entrepreneurs to help our country win big. That is one of the reasons why I supported him and Inday Sara.



It is clear that based solely on his initial moves as President-elect, Bongbong is really motivated by what is good for the country rather than mere partisan considerations. I understand why some people—especially those from the political opposition—have apprehensions. But I think Bongbong said it perfectly when he stated: “Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions.”



It’s too early to judge, of course. But his initial decisions have been encouraging. And if he continues to be guided by the national interest rather than by parochial political interests, I think he could indeed be, a unifying President.





Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar