by Tiffany Glenne Afable || Photo Credit: Ashkinaz Canonoy
Slightly over a hundred days have passed since the Philippines witnessed another Marcos rise to the highest seat of power. Now, the people of the nation are left asking what exactly has the new administration accomplished under his regime.
It has been a long-standing tradition for the President of the Philippines to mark their first 100 days in power with an accomplishment report. The advent of this tradition could be traced back to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in 1933. This was then adopted by the Philippines under the administration of 11th President Corazon C. Aquino, where she outlined her government’s activities in the first 100 days. However, 16th President Rodrigo Roa Duterte broke the tradition by declaring his achievements for the first 50 days—rather than a hundred—with a “50firstdays” campaign.
Marcos, too, has broken the 100 days tradition, albeit differently.
“Unlike his predecessors, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is not keen on releasing a report for his first 100 days in office and is actually wondering if it was necessary,” Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said in an interview a week before the President’s official marking of his first hundred days.
The people of the nation, therefore, took it into their own hands to retrace President Marcos’s achievements and milestones over his first 100 days in office.
As the Philippines continues to face the pandemic, one would believe that a leader’s first priority is the country’s state of health. However, the seat of the Department of Health (DOH) Chief Secretary remains deserted, with only the Officer-in-Charge, Maria Rosario Vergeire, currently holding the reigns. The absence of a full-time DOH chief secretary only further exposes the plight of the country’s health workers amidst the pandemic as they find themselves overworked and underpaid, with some resorting to seeking better pay and more lenient working conditions abroad.
“We have to remember that the DOH is not about COVID alone. It’s about public health in general. That’s another side of it, and it’s as important as COVID is,” said the President regarding the people’s concerns of who is meant to lead the Philippines towards the end of this health crisis.
The economic crisis also takes its spot as one of the country’s most pressing issues. Although the direness of this situation is felt across all parts of the world, it has strongly taken its toll on the people as most Filipinos feel the burden of high prices yet low pay. Farmers and fisherfolk expressed their suffering as they shared how the prices of commodities, transportation, and utility costs keep rising at a staggering rate while no substantial aid is being provided.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, inflation quickened 6.9% year-on-year in September 2022, which was much faster than the 6.3% recorded in August. In fact, the country’s economic team confessed that it is most unlikely for the Philippines to meet its inflation target this year.
Read: The Philippine Sugar Crisis
Marcos on his first 100 days
When asked about his administration’s performance for the first 100 days, Marcos responded, “I think what we have managed to do in the first 100 days is put together a government which is functional and which has a very, very good idea of what we are targeting in terms of strict economic targets.”
He also affirmed his gratefulness for his economic managers who helped transform the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so in the coming years.
The President also highlighted the success of his recent engagements, such as his conversations during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and his state visits to ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia and Singapore.
However, his SG trip sparked controversy as the Marcos couple were spotted enjoying their time in the exclusive F1 Paddock Club, along with their son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, and a few dignitaries, only days after the devastating Typhoon Karding hit the Philippines. Fuel was only added to the fire as photos of the event also revealed the attendance of House Speaker Romualdez’ wife Rep. Yedda Romualdez and Sandro Marcos’ rumored girlfriend, actress Alexa Miro. The situation garnered much criticism as people labeled the trip to be “ill-timed” and ignorant of the suffering of the Filipinos.
Despite the backlash the First Family received, former Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles wrote in a post on October 3, “Naging produktibo ang pagdalaw sa Singpore ni Pangulong Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. Pinagpatibay niya ang mga pangunahing usapan sa huling state visit sa bayan na ito, at pinatuloy ang paghihikayat sa pag-invest sa bayang Pilipinas.”
[Translation: “The visit of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. to Singapore was productive. He strengthened the initial discussions from his earlier state visit and continued encouraging investors to invest in the country.”]
When the people demanded transparency on the funding of the Grand Prix trip, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said, “It’s beyond the issue. It’s not relevant at all to question, to ask kung sino gumastos. Basta he [Marcos] was doing something for us.”
He also added that it “shouldn’t be a problem” if public funds were used for the official trip, although it is important to note that the Palace did not officially inform the public of the First Family’s Singapore trip beforehand.
The first 100 days and what it signifies for the country
Although some believe Marcos to be unlucky for inheriting an enormous debt and a slew of problems that were brought about the pandemic and the incompetencies of the previous administation, it is still part of his duty to minimize the worst effects of this crisis so that the people of the country do not suffer any further. But when all that Filipinos can witness are frequent partying and inadequate action, it is no surprise that the questions and protests only grow louder.
Even if a hundred days are not enough to draw a conclusion for where the current administration is going to lead us in the next 6 years, it provides us enough of a glimpse of who might abandon this ship once its starts sinking.
The country can only hope it is not the captain of our nation.