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First Year

I like the fact that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. candidly admitted that his administration still has a lot of work to do. He also echoed the rating an economist gave his first year of administration as “incomplete.” It is really unfair to give a full review of his administration with  five more years to go. But I think it is possible to assess the direction he is taking the country and the foundation laid during his first year in office.


But unlike the typical assessment we usually read, I am not going to focus on statistics and numbers. I want to focus on the leadership skills demonstrated by the President as he set up his government. This will give an indication of what to expect in the next five years. After all, as he proclaimed the day after won the presidency: “Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions.” So let us judge him by his actions.


The first thing that needs to be said is President Bongbong’s ability to surround himself with capable people. Good leaders pick the right people for his team. It is a tremendous skill to be able to find the right mix of skills, knowledge, experience, and organizational fit. The initial appointments of the President, especially pertaining to his economic team was laudable. Of course, the President made some adjustments later for various reasons. He also took his time in filling up certain positions. But I do not consider them as weaknesses. On the contrary, it shows the willingness of the President to make adjustments when necessary.


The second thing is the President’s ability to focus on the problems of the country. In all his initial public pronouncements since getting elected, President Bongbong has focused on one issue — the economy. And I just thought that this was the best way to address the problems of the country. We understand, of course, that we have many problems — justice, education, health, transportation, etc. But by focusing on our economy ravaged by a pandemic, the President has positioned the resources of his Cabinet to strengthen our capacity to produce wealth and thereby increase our ability to handle other social problems.


I also admire the ability of the President to laser-focus on his job instead getting sidetracked by political noise and controversies. Several controversies — real and made up — have been reported but the President and his Cabinet remained focused on their goal of reviving the economy. When you look at some of these so-called controversies none of them really matter in terms of improving the economy and the ability of our people to achieve prosperity.


The third thing is I found really impressive was the aggressiveness of the President in projecting a new, united, prosperous Philippines to the world. The President did this by exploiting his strength as salesman-in-chief and chief diplomat of the country. He traveled to other countries and encouraged investors to take a good look at the Philippines. The pledges in investments and partnerships his visits forged will certainly result to more jobs, better economy and more importantly, to improving our country’s image.


The first year of the Marcos presidency has shown the President's impressive leadership skills. He knows where he wants to take the country and he understands fully how to get us there. In my conversations with him before, I was already impressed by his grasp of the nation’s problems but as he settles in for the remaining five years of his term, I see that he is really prepared to take on the country’s challenges.


I am really looking forward to his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) so he can outline his regime’s specific accomplishments and lay out the vision and mission for the next five years.


I hope that he keeps this up. And I hope that our people will continue to give him the chance to do what he thinks is best for the country. Amidst all the pessimism in politics, I think it is important for us to show some trust. Let us remain vigilant, of course, but let us not fall into the kind of negativity and hopelessness that cause gridlock in government.




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar