IN his first 100 days as president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. believes that he has successfully laid out a clear policy agenda for his six-year term in office that focuses on health, fiscal management and turning the long-neglected agricultural sector into an engine of growth.
The Philippines is currently beset with numerous challenges, from rising inflation to worrying levels of public debt and a bruised peso, but Marcos, who won the presidency by a landslide, said he was able to manage it with the help of the “best and the brightest” members of his Cabinet.
In his latest vlog uploaded on his social media on Saturday, the President promised that he would be more persistent in fulfilling his mandate to help realize his administration’s bid to give the Filipino people a better life.
“Ang maituturing kong malaking tagumpay ng ating panunungkulan sa ating unang 100 araw ay ang pagbibigay ng malinaw na direksyon at layunin sa lahat ng ating mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan at sambayanang Pilipino (What I consider a major success of my administration during our first 100 days is that we were able to provide a clear policy direction and agenda to all our government agencies and the Filipino people),” Marcos said.
The President first cited his government’s accomplishment in managing the Covid-19 situation in the country.
Through the Department of Health (DoH), the “PinasLakas” vaccine campaign was launched to raise the number of Filipinos receiving the booster shot against the coronavirus.
To show the importance of receiving an additional dose of the vaccine, Marcos received a booster shot when he visited a vaccination site at a mall in Manila on August 17.
The DoH had set a goal of vaccinating 50 percent of the eligible population with the first booster shot of Covid-19 vaccines by October 8 or the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.
However, on September 22, the DoH adjusted its target to 30 percent due to the slow uptake on booster shots.
Meanwhile, as of October 6, a total of 73.3 million Filipinos are now fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 or those who have received their two-dose primary vaccination series.
This figure is equivalent to 93.81 percent of those who are eligible to get the first two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Around 19,211,908 of this figure received a booster shot, according to the figures released by the DoH.
Food sufficiency, economic growth
The President also reiterated that his administration’s priority goals are to secure food sufficiency and spur socioeconomic growth.
During his recent state visits to Indonesia and Singapore, the Marcos administration promoted agricultural cooperation and encouraged trade investment in key sectors.
The President said his inaugural visits bore fruit, securing around P804.78 billion ($14.36 billion) worth of investment pledges.
Marcos also visited the United States where he secured business deals and commitments with an estimated investment value of $3.9 billion.
“Ang pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya ay ang pagbangon ng pamilyang Pilipino kaya naman puspusan ang ating ginagawang hakbang para dumami ang hanapbuhay at oportunidad dito sa bansa (The recovery of our economy is the recovery of the Filipino family, which is why we are taking steps to increase the number of jobs and opportunities in the country),” he said.
To recall, Marcos also listed in his State of the Nation Address last July 25 several economic objectives.
For this year, Marcos wants to achieve a gross domestic product of 6.5 to 7.5 percent, lower than the 7 to 8 percent set by his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, before leaving office.
But from 2023 until the end of Marcos’ term in 2028, the government hopes that annual GDP growth would hit between 6.5 to 8 percent, higher than Duterte’s goal of 6 to 7 percent growth.
But from rising inflation to worrying levels of public debt and a bruised peso, the Philippine economy has yet to find an impasse.
State statisticians expect the cost of consumer goods and services to grow even faster as expensive food prices could stick by year-end.
Marcos, who appointed himself as secretary of agriculture, is already aware that the uptick in the country’s inflation could be a “potential problem,” Malacañang had said.
Hence, the President, during his first meeting with his Cabinet in July, discussed several initiatives to tame the rise in consumer prices.
Marcos had said he has directed all government offices to follow the “central policy” that will be crafted by his economic team.
International events such as the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia as well as rising prices for farm inputs, particularly fertilizers, have led to higher food prices in the international market.
Under Marcos’ leadership and through the prompt approval of his administration’s fiscal framework, the Palace said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has taken steps to “reduce socioeconomic vulnerability” and “ensure sound macroeconomic fundamentals.”
“These initiatives include the Budget Modernization Bill, realignment of expenditure priorities, and the ongoing digitization of government processes,” Malacañang said.
“The DBM also oversees the full devolution process, ensuring that funds are fairly distributed, and disadvantaged areas are prioritized,” it added.
The DBM submitted the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 to the House of Representatives which passed it on third and final reading on September 28.
Once they craft their own version of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill, the Senate will meet their House counterparts in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile differing provisions in their respective budget bills.
Their harmonized measures would be placed on the President’s signature by December if not earlier.
Another major feat of his administration, Marcos said, is the unification of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under one Bangsamoro autonomous government.
Making Bangsamoro peace process one of his top priorities, Marcos on August 12 led the mass oath-taking in Malacañang of the new members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which serves as the interim government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao pending the conduct of first regular parliamentary and regional elections in May 2025.
The third phase of the decommissioning of combatants and weapons of the MILF also resumed on September 27, or just nearly two weeks since the BTA Parliament began its session.
“Ang kapayapaan at pagkakaisa na bunga ng mga programang ito ay nag-maximize ng ating economic potential ng mga nasabing lugar (The peace and unity resulting from these programs maximized our economic potential of said areas),” Marcos said.
DepEd’s ‘significant achievement’
Albay Second District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” Salceda said on Saturday that the resumption of face-to-face classes is Vice President Sara Duterte’s most significant achievement during her first 100 days in office, which is crucial for addressing the learning crisis and bringing the economy back to normal.
Salceda also said the actions taken to address the issue of teacher debt are a significant breakthrough. Teachers will have stronger representation in the Government Service Insurance System, which will provide additional refinancing options and more environmentally friendly lending methods.
According to Salceda, the Philippines spends around 3.2 percent of gross domestic product on education. Having funds doesn’t ensure strong academic results, but having the proper amount and the correct priorities can, as he suggested to Duterte, concurrent Education secretary.
OVP’s medical, burial benefits
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) said it had processed more than P134 million in medical and burial benefits and has served nearly 100,000 passengers in its free ride program under Duterte.
In a statement, the OVP said that nearly P125 million in medical aid and around P9.8 million in burial assistance were given to 13,315 beneficiaries in all seven offices of the OVP, including in its main office as of October 5.
The OVP said it has partnered with the DoH through the Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients Program, as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program.
Meanwhile, the OVP’s Peak Hours Augmentation Bus Service or PHABS has served a total of 98,293 people in 1,470 trips in Metro Manila, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Bacolod and Davao City since August 3.
The OVP has also distributed a total of 3,220 “PagbaBAGo” bags that contain school supplies and hygiene kits in Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte, Jordan, Guimaras, Caramoan, Camarines Sur, Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Siquijor, Dasmarinas, Cavite and Bangued, Abra.
The program, which began when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, aims to instill the importance of basic education and nurture the right attitude among young Filipinos to succeed in life.
Aside from the distribution of the bags, Duterte also met with the children’s parents and convinced them to practice responsible parenthood and family planning.
Armed Forces highlights
Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro highlighted the military’s accomplishments in its first 100 days: gains in internal peace and security operations, external defense, modernization and capability development, and international bilateral and multilateral engagements.
For internal security and stability, Bacarro said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has dismantled five guerilla fronts, neutralized 310 members of the communist terrorist group (CTG) and recovered 300 firearms.
Some 58 members of the local terrorist group (LTG) have also been neutralized while 54 loose firearms were recovered, the AFP said.
On the peace process, the AFP participated in the successful oath-taking of new members of the BTA.