Beyond elections: Let’s unite behind the newly elected leaders

Published May 10, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin

By the time this morning’s newspapers hit the newsstands or are delivered to subscribers’ homes, the readers would be aware of the results of yesterday’s national and local elections. In the first two automated elections for President and Vice President in 2010 and 2016, a clear winner in the presidential election was known before midnight of election day. The vice-presidential race in both elections was characterized as being “too close to call;” the eventual winners were proclaimed by Congress a few weeks later.

Regardless of the outcome, the important task of rebuilding the economy from the ravages of a crippling pandemic continues. This task could be done best amid political stability — an ideal scenario that is attainable through the conduct of peaceful, orderly and honest elections. Since the present Constitution was enacted in 1987, the nation has witnessed five peaceful transitions in the presidency — longer than at any time in the country’s history. The shift to automated elections has minimized disruptive transitions; we could only hope and pray that this trend continues today.

Controlling inflation and increasing employment are twin priorities that the new President and Cabinet will likely tackle. As it has demonstrated previously, the Bangko ng Sentral ng Pilipinas is expected to do what is needed to ensure price stability. This task has been made more difficult by the volatility of oil prices that have remained at high levels since the start of the year. Analysts point out three key developments that should be monitored closely: surging commodity prices, the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict and Covid-19 lockdowns in China that is a leading production and supply hub.

The post-election period could also be characterized by a resurgence in the Covid threat, according to forecasts made by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health. Continuing efforts to raise the vaccination rates in the lagging regions must be pursued. Booster shots should be promoted more actively among the priority sectors, especially senior and immunocompromised citizens. Beyond the Covid response, the incoming administration must tackle the vital task of strengthening the country’s public health infrastructure.

Tapping into the citizenry’s civic spirit and mobilizing communities to work with government should be the next President’s top priority. Harnessing the vibrant energy of the youth and the citizenry’s spirit of voluntarism could bring about a speedier pace of economic recovery.

Recalling the country’s experience in the aftermath of the 1992 national elections — or exactly 30 years ago — offers valuable insights. After winning only less than 24 percent of total votes cast and leading his next two closest opponents by slim margins, President Fidel V. Ramos reached out and built a broader coalition of active support for his administration’s priorities.

Then and now, the clarion call is for Filipinos to unite behind their duly elected leaders in achieving the national vision, AmBisyon 2040: 

“By 2040, Filipinos enjoy a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life. In 2040, we will all enjoy a stable and comfortable lifestyle, secure in the knowledge that we have enough for our daily needs and unexpected expenses, that we can plan and prepare for our own and our children’s future”