Reflections on a hashtag

Published July 4, 2022, 12:05 AM

by John Tria


John Tria
John Tria

Social media came alive last week with the hashtag #salamatPRRD, a call that encouraged thousands to post their message of thanks to former President Rodrigo Duterte on various platforms. Likewise, Sunday’s concert at the Quirino grandstand in Manila, and the June 30 concert in Davao City, events that brought many together to express their thankful sentiments. This grateful outpouring was made in a way unseen in the history of Philippine presidents as they leave office.

Likewise pouring out were messages of thanks for his key officials, like the economic team that steered the important economic reforms that when fully implemented, will set the stage for a strong, resilient economy as we tread the new normal.

The adulation felt by mainly ordinary people is mainly due to the impact the administration’s policies and reforms had on their daily lives, from the lower crime rates, longer intervals for driver’s license renewals, 10-year passport validities that will mean fewer trips, and lining up to DFA offices, to universal health care and free state university education, to more modern public transport and improved terminals, online services from government offices, income tax exemptions for a greater number of Filipinos.

I have written previous columns on the game changing reforms. A recent Manila Bulletin article lists many more: These are changes that many thought previous governments in the post EDSA period before 2016 would deliver. It seems that it took a Duterte administration’s political will to get the long-awaited reforms established. Little wonder therefore, that trust and satisfaction ratings of the president remained high as he leaves office.

There are three major reflections I have on the salamatPRRD hashtag. The first is how we should not fear, and rather appreciate the phrase political will. Lest we forget, political will is an essential expectation in a representative democracy such as ours, where we vest those, we elect with the power to propose, make and execute necessary changes on our behalf, and deliver the results.

The second reflection is how we will be sustaining these reforms and changes achieved in the Duterte administration, making sure they are implemented and perhaps, even broadened over time. This is where citizens’ organizations, business groups will need to engage government and see how well these vital reforms are executed.

The third reflection is how, looking ahead, many scholars will undoubtedly write works to record and document this period in history, particularly on how it will change the way the political landscape is viewed by an increasing number of Filipinos now made more connected and engaged through social media, making new platforms for expression, raising their expectations in the governments they elect. The beauty of our time is that millions of Filipinos have the means to record significant things in their lives through their cellular phones, from selfies, screenshots and videos. The people themselves will help tell the story of all that took place between 2016 and 2022, and express their sentiments on governments that follow. The scholars’ work will therefore be to draw the lessons for our future children to heed.

Upcoming events in Mindanao’s business community

This coming Aug. 31- Sept. 2 is the Annual Mindanao business conference at the Northeastern Mindanao Stadium in Tandag City, Surigao del Norte. Organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and hosted by the Tandag Chamber of Commerce, this year’s MINBIZCON is the first face to face gathering of Mindanao’s business community since the 2019 edition in Iligan. For sponsorship and attendance email [email protected]