Drilon cites urgent ‘to-do-list’ for President-elect Marcos Jr.

Published May 26, 2022, 1:30 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday outlined four most pressing issues that President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. must immediately address.

Drilon said this includes the country’s pressing problem such an inadequate healthcare system, a pandemic-battered economy, a failing education system, and a weak rule of law.

“President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should capitalize on the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ and exercise political will in the first 100 days of his presidency to address these four urgent issues that remain unresolved and define his legislative priorities,” Drilon said in a statement.

“First and foremost, the issue of health. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weakness and inadequacy of our healthcare system. We lack hospitals. Our health information system is inefficient. We do not provide sufficient protection and benefits to our healthcare professionals both in the public and private sectors,” Drilon stressed.

“There must be long-term solutions. We must have more hospitals. We must strengthen our Universal Health Care program. We must appoint the right people in PhilHealth as our main health insurance agency,” Drilon said.

“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past,” said the minority leader, citing the corruption and overpricing controversies that hounded the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth.

Drilon said the country’s weak healthcare system coupled by the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic has put the country in a dire situation.

He also lamented the poor state of the country’s education system that is made even worse by the pandemic.

Citing the World Bank study, Drilon said the learning poverty in the Philippines is alarming at 90 percent in 2020, whereas Indonesia has 35.4%, Malaysia at13.9%, Singapore at 2.8%, Thailand at 23.5%, and Vietnam at 1.7%.

“This should worry the next administration. I cannot imagine a future with 9 out of 10 Filipino children who cannot read,” Drilon said.

It is also imperative for the incoming president to build a strong economy: “The key here is the economic managers. The President-elect must choose a strong and cohesive economic team that shares a common vision.”

“His team must be able to formulate fiscal policies that will put the economy on a path to recovery,” Drilon continued.

“We need not just the best minds but team players. The next economic team must be able to work with the legislative in terms of legislation,” he said.

Drilon stressed the country’s economy is in a very difficult situation. “We have a debt of P12.68-trillion as of March. We continuously incur a huge budget deficit because of our inefficient tax collection that is made even worse by the pandemic,” he also said.

On top of it, the outgoing senator said the government’s COVID-19 war chest “is dwindling, yet, the pandemic is still within our midst.”

Drilon also said the next president should brace for the heavy impact of the oil crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, high budget deficit, and ballooning debt amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine that further caused inflation to rise.

The former justice secretary also called on the incoming president to restore the people’s confidence in the rule of law and the justice system, which was greatly affected by the so-called war on drugs that killed thousands of Filipinos in the past six years.

The Marcos administration should also address the number of extra-judicial killings, including lawyers and journalists, as well as red tagging incidence which Drilon said are symptoms of a weak rule of law.