Someone should tell Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. that now is a good time to take stock of his presidency, and not wait for the end of his first 100 days to tweak the direction of his administration.
In simplest terms, he is not only doing a mediocre job, he is borderline doing a bad one. Horrible, even.
The biggest scandal of his still relatively young administration – regime might be a better word, but for now I shall refrain from using it – was the sugar import mess involving the Sugar Regulatory Administration.
Four officials were found to have signed an order that would have allowed the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, including an Agriculture department undersecretary and the head of the SRA.
Marcos’s press secretary would say that the order did not have the approval of the president, who also happens to be Agriculture secretary, at least for the time being.
The four testified that the president’s executive secretary had more or less given the go signal for the order, after Marcos himself had indicated that he was aware that there was a serious shortage of the commodity and was even considering allowing a larger volume of 600,000 MT to be brought in.
An investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee concluded that the four had taken it upon themselves to issue the order, and that neither the president nor his executive secretary were guilty of any crime.
That there was indeed a serious shortage was seen in recent weeks when the Coca Cola company was forced to temporarily shut down four of its plants due to lack of sugar.
The Senate probe left too many questions unanswered and serious doubts remain. It does appear that the four were made fall guys of the deal.
Presuming that Marcos as Agriculture sec really is pure and innocent as the virgin snow, he still has a lot to answer for.
In recent weeks, it has been determined that the country has now or is about to have serious shortages of salt, garlic, and white onions.
The last also became clear when one of the fastfood chains announced that they would not be putting onions in their burgers, and even stopped selling onion rings for a while.
As for the projection that there will be a shortage of salt by yearend, this had everybody aghast when it was learned that more than 90 percent of the salt used in the country is imported.
One need not be a rocket scientist to know that salt comes from the sea, and is there for the taking. All that’s needed is to set up salt beds, where sea water is let in, then allowed to flow out, leaving behind good, old salt after the remaining sea water evaporates.
For the Philippines to not be self-sufficient in salt is simply criminal.
Then there is the most important staple food of rice. Marcos will never be able to live down his campaign promise to bring down the retail price of rice to P20/kilo.
This is an impossibility, and every agriculture expert knows this. Worst his own regime, I mean administration, said last week that the retail price of rice is very likely to go up in the next couple of weeks from its already high cost of double the promised P20/kilo market price.
Simply stated, Marcos is making a mess of the Agriculture department which was already in bad shape to begin with.
Ever since he assumed the presidency, he has not done any of the serious work that comes with being chief executive of Philippines, Inc. His latest “achievement” was to go on state visits to Indonesia and Singapore where Malacanang’s spin doctors said was a huge success. He allegedly came home with billions of dollars in investments.
This was an out and out lie.
Malacanang could not even release a list of the companies or investors who would come in and bring tens of thousands of new jobs as a result of their investments.
In truth, all the unnamed investors did was signify an interest in possibly investing in the Philippines.
In fact, they were just being polite.
What Marcos “achieved” in his twin state visits last week was quite similar to what Rodrigo Duterte accomplished – I am smirking as I write this – each time he went to China. The press office of the palace always made big deals of the billions of dollars Duterte allegedly clinched in Beijing.
Remember that his biggest wins in the investment front was for Chinese companies to fund and build three railway systems. Only after the foul-mouthed former mayor of Davao City was about to step down was it announced that those mega projects would not be pushing through.
So much for his build, build, build program, which incidentally Marcos said he planned to continue.
Last week, Marcos was seen in a couple of events where he gave the usual feel good motherhood speeches that other past presidents who were not accomplishing much tended to also give.
In one event, he even cut the ceremonial ribbon, I believe.
Before that? He also attended a basketball game of the Philippine team, but only showed up when it was clear that the Filipinos were winning bigtime.
Yet another accomplishment of his was to make the birthday of his late father, the brutal dictator who was also the world’s biggest thief (according to the Guiness Book of Records) a legal holiday in their home province of Ilocos Norte.
I sense that if no one makes an issue of this, he will make it a holiday nationwide somewhere down the road.
His father would have been 105, by the way, and he is still in the record books as a crook. But I’m sure Junior will find a way to rewrite history. It will be up to his Education secretary, a certain Sara Duterte, to determine if history books should be rewritten.
Speaking of the Education secretary who also happens to be vice president of the republic, her followers have begun to grumble about the Marcos presidency. Social media has been buzzing about a growing anti-Marcos movement rising from the ranks of Duterte’s followers.
Not Rodrigo, ok? I refer to the Duterte who is not aware that her first name should be spelled with an H.
Shara is it? Or Sarha? I am, of course, just kidding as I do not wish to be sued for cyberlibel for exercising my right of free speech. But I do wonder if she will make a better chief executive than the son of a deceased dictator.