Indeed, the ongoing electoral campaign is one of the most divisive and vicious in our nation’s political history.
More important than the raging political battle, however, is the governance of our country for the next six years, which will commence at 12 noon of June 30 this year.
For with the magnitude of the challenges that our next president will face and a world recovering from the pandemic and beset with geopolitical conflicts, we hope that our next president will enlist in his administration “the best and the brightest” in our political parties, civil society, business, academe, and other sectors of our society.
Building of new political coalitions and sharing of executive power, just as power is shared by majority and minority parties in the House of Representatives and Senate, will enable the next administration, and our nation, to focus, undistracted by partisan concerns, in carrying out the policies and programs.
We believe that doing so will draw out the venom in our country’s political atmosphere, which will shatter our capacity to overcome grave and urgent national problems, foremost of which is the recovery from the Covid-19 plague.
On a larger and long-term scale, it will help reform politics and governance, make the economy a more efficient creator of social wealth, and improve the quality of life for all our people.
After decades as a politician, we have spent these past 11 years just observing the workings of partisan politics in our country.
We are heartened to note that our country had sustained its economic growth and global competitiveness, until the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the global economy. We had also made headway against illegal drugs and political corruption, so that, overall, our country’s outlook is sound.
But we have yet to resolve some basic problems. Far too many of our people still subsist in poverty; and social and income inequality in our country is one the highest in East Asia.
We are saddened that our fragmented political system still hampers our collective ability to focus on national purposes and pursue national goals.
We continue to be governed, not by principled parties, but by self-interested factions. Venality and parochialism still characterize our political culture. And every time a presidential term ends and a new one begins, we seem to start all over again.
We can’t keep playing this game of faction over and over. East Asia and the entire world around us are fast-changing.
Incessant partisan political bickering will condemn us to being a backwater in a rapidly changing world, in which the global balance of economic, cultural, and political power is shifting inexorably to our Asian region. We must move now, if we are to regain the initiative in Southeast Asia that we held all too briefly in the postwar period.
We wish to greet former President Joseph Estrada who will celebrate his 85th birthday on April 19.
Then Vice President Estrada and I ran against each other and eight other candidates during the 1998 presidential elections. We came out second to the popular Erap Estrada in a highly competitive field of 10, where our party then, Lakas-NUCD-UMDP, now Lakas-CMD, had four strong unyielding rebel candidates, while our friend Erap, alone in his party, sailed home victorious.
We used to tease him that he should have not run at all and left the presidential field to us instead of being confined later, until we moved for his pardon and later, he was elected two times as Mayor of Manila. Erap and I have remained friends to this day.
Happy Birthday, Mr. President!