"What await us this year?"
When President Duterte started attacking the Catholic Church, its bishops and priests, I asked myself—what did he hope to achieve by doing this?
Certainly when a person says and does something, he must have motivations and expectations.
Does the President hope to stop the Church from criticizing him? Does he want to prevent the faithful from going to church?
Does the President hope that the Church would get down on its knees before him?
If President Duterte were an ordinary Filipino, what he is doing might be dismissed. But he is not just any Filipino. He is the President of 109 million Filipinos. Everything he says and does affects our lives.
I have covered 10 presidents and I have never seen a leader as hateful as Duterte. It looks like he is bullying the Church to submission!
There are many expectations this new year as there are many self-styled analysts and opinion writers.
On my part, I believe that controversies over President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, criminality and corruption will persist, and if the President thinks that he will put an end to them, then he is sadly mistaken.
I repeat myself when I say that so long as there is demand for illegal drugs from the 3 million to 4 million users, the drug menace will continue. This is because Mr. Duterte regards the issue and a peace-and-order problem when it is a health concern.
As I have said, the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency may be able to kill the last drug user and pusher, but the problem will persist.
On corruption, the President can only minimize it. Eradicating it would be impossible. The system itself allows and enables government people to steal the people’s money.
At Customs, for instance, so long as there is discretion and intervention involved in the entry of contraband, smuggling will continue. This is also true in other agencies where money is involved.
And as long as there is poverty and joblessness, and with the kind of politics we have especially in this election year, people will be killed.
As the midterm election approaches, more will be killed as political rivalries persist in both the local and national levels, and the only way the government can minimize it is for the police to go after crime-for-hire syndicates, loose firearms and private armies.
On the economy, the Duterte administration must stop looking at statistics like the slowdown of inflation. Instead it should listen to the people’s outcry about the rising prices of goods and services.
On the national level, the issue of charter change or amending the Constitution to pave the way for a federal system of government will dominate all issues. But as far as I am concerned, charter change and federalism can only becloud people’s minds on what are urgently needed by the people, such as efforts to stop the rising incidence of poverty, joblessness, low wages, and the high cost of medical services.
This is exactly why I believe that while there is need to amend the 1987 Constitution to make it relevant to the changing times, federalism as an issue should be set aside in favor of the more urgent and critical issues facing the nation.
On foreign affairs, the issues is whether we need to review the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States. This is relevant in the face of China’s ascent to power and aggressiveness in taking control of the South China Sea.
The question comes up. In the case of war between the United States on one side, and Russia and China on the other, will the MDT require us to side with the US?
This must be made clear to all Filipinos since it involves our future as a nation, given Mr. Duterte’s pivot to China.
Here is my list of nation builders. In my book, they are also heroes. They have contributed to the country’s development.
They are Henry Sy, Sr., Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, Andrew Tan, Ramon Ang, Bobby Ongpin, Ricky Razon, Manny Villar, Manny Pangilinan, Jaime and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, and the late George SK Ty.
They have one thing in common. They are all visionaries and risk takers. They see opportunities. They work hard. They have patience and perseverance and most importantly they share their blessings with those in need through their Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
The National Economic and Development Authority has approved the proposed aerotropolis on a 2,500-hectare property in Bulacan. The proposal was by San Miguel’s Ramon S. Ang. The project will break ground early this year. Indeed, the aviation industry is looking up!
The airport will have four runways with provisions for an additional two. The P750-billion project will generate about a million jobs—a boost to the national economy.
What is more exciting about the project is that it will also boost the fishing industry. There is a plan to put up a fishing port at the end of the airport’s runway. This will enable to local and foreign airlines to operate outside NAIA which has become so congested.
Ang is also contemplating extending TPLEX all the way to San Fernando, La Union, Vigan, Ilocos Sur and Laoag, Ilocos Norte. TPLEX may even extend nearer to Baguio City.
What I cannot understand is why the government has not yet approved Ang’s proposed 1.5-kilometer bridge from Aklan to Boracay Island to enable flee flow of water to the island and outflow of wastewater to the mainland itself.
Sometimes I think the government is the biggest stumbling block to progress.
Here’s my wish list of the senatorial candidates in the Magic 12: Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Koko Pimentel, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Serge Osmeña, Francis Tolentino and Mar Roxas.
If at least 10 of these names win, I would be happy. My wish is to have a Senate we can all be proud of.