OF TREES AND FOREST
Former Senate President
By the time this column comes out, it would have been two days after our people have made their choice and cast their ballots. I am not sure if the winner has been clearly established by now but it seems the perfect opportunity to change from campaign mode to governing mode. Now, we are done with the battle of platforms, the war of words, the conflict in the airwaves and the many, many scuffles on social media. It is not an exaggeration to say that this campaign has been very divisive.
Now, the people have spoken. It is time to move on to more important things: solve the problems the country is facing so our people can go about building a brighter more prosperous future.
The question then is what do we do now? Or more specifically, what should the new president do now? One of the problems that we have had when there is a new sheriff in town is the lack of continuity. The new president would simply ignore and discontinue the good projects of the previous administration because of partisan politics. The new leader, wanting to extinguish anything that has to do with the previous Palace occupant would ignore perfectly good programs that are good for the country.
This, to me, is counterintuitive. Why would you waste a good program simply because you do not like the previous president? Besides, as new president you need to hit the ground running as soon as you take office. Your new ideas and plans need time to get implemented. So why not build on existing programs of government?
In this particular case, I really believe that the new president should continue and improve the Build, Build, Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte. This should not be debatable. There is absolutely no doubt that investing in infrastructure is good for economic development. Investing in infrastructure fuels economic growth which in turns make the country attractive to investment which in turn creates more resources for us so we can have better and more modern infrastructure. For instance, building more bridges, rails, and farm-to-market roads will have an impact on agriculture because we are making it easier and less costly for farmers and traders to transport their goods.
Infrastructure projects demonstrate the problem in the continuity of government I mentioned before. The term of office of a President is six years which might be too long from a political perspective but quite short from the perspective of crafting and implementing projects. Many infrastructure projects require more than six years from inception to realization.
This was the reason why when Mark became Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) he had to finish many of the projects left unfinished by the previous administration. He was unfairly criticized by some for taking credit for these projects but it was his team that continued and finished some of these projects. The same thing will happen to this incoming administration. A number of infrastructure projects are still works in progress and it will be the job of the new administration to pick up where their predecessor left off.
There are other challenges that the new president will have to face — the pandemic, inflation, China, political and economic reforms, and many others. Looking at these enormous challenges, I do not know if I should congratulate, or condole with, the new President. These are seemingly insurmountable tasks that lay ahead. And the President alone will not be able to tackle these. The new President needs the support of all Filipinos, regardless of how we voted last May 9.
The campaign period has ended. The elections are almost over. It is time for all of us to transition from being partisan to becoming citizen. We are no longer supporters of a particular candidate but a champion of the country we love.
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