Beting Laygo Dolor: Know what else isn’t a priority, Mr. President?
President Bongbong Marcos is right when he says charter change is not a priority at this time.
But there are other things that are also not a priority but which he has been paying too much attention to these days. This would be the small matter of his excessive travels.
He has just returned from a trip to Japan, which would be his ninth after little more than eight months in office.
Worst of all, a tenth and eleventh trip have already been announced.
This is an exorbitant number if he were simply the chief executive of a large corporation, unless that company were a travel agency or an airline. He appears to forget that he is CEO of Philippines, Inc. and his travels have not only been unnecessary for the most part, he has also been bringing with him progressively larger and larger groups.
When he went to Switzerland, he was accompanied by a party of 70.
Yes, he had an official delegation that was the largest among all the nations that attended. By comparison, the US had a delegation of only 17.
That deserves and exclamation point, but I didn’t put on because.
Not just because, but especially because his four-day trip to Japan was when he really went overboard. He took with him an unbelievable contingent of 114!
There. That exclamation point was called for, wasn’t it?
He gave the excuse that a good many of the folks who accompanied him to the land of the rising sun were businessmen out to seal some deals with top Japanese companies.
Upon his return, the Palace as expected announced that the traveling president had brought back with him billions on pledges.
Right. Pledges. Not outright contracts, not solid commitments. Pledges.
Those pledges were actually little more than polite business talk of companies maybe considering to plunk some money into the country, possibly creating hundreds if not thousands of new jobs.
Remember when he went to the US last year and claimed he had similarly received billions of dollars in pledges?
One of the biggies that he met with was Coca Cola. And yes, the global soft drink company did announce that they were expanding their facilities in the Philippines to the tune of several hundred million pesos. Or was it billions? I forget.
What I do know for a fact is that BBM’s trip had nothing to do with Coca Cola’s expansion plans in the country. I had gotten wind of if several months earlier, as I had been editing a coffee table book for Coca Cola Philippines.
That “new” investment announced by Malacanang after BBM’s US trip was already signed, sealed, and delivered long before he even set foot on the plane that took him to New York, which is incidentally his wife’s supposed spiritual home.
This Japan trip saw an announcement about the MVP Group finalizing a deal with the Mitsui Corp for a multi-million dollar joint project in the country.
Think it was closed because of BBM’s Japan sojourn?
It was not, ladies and gentlemen. Such deals like the abovementioned Coca Cola investment was one hundred percent finalized months ago.
Such is the nature of mega deals or projects.
What is so appalling about Marcos Junior’s trips is that we taxpayers are paying for most of it, while everyone who joins must necessarily bring with them the international currency that is the US greenback.
There is only one legitimate source of those dollars, and they must come from the Bangko Sentral’s dollar reserves.
What is also bothersome is that BBM now has a tendency to bring along his family to his trips. From the onset, he always brought along his wife, the First Lady. Well and good, this is a standard practice of most world leaders. But bringing along his adult kids?
His eldest son, the whinny voiced Sandro, is a first term congressman given a high post in the House of Representatives by virtue of being the son of the president as well as the nephew of the Speaker.
That’s his only qualification. Not too long ago, the youngest son of the president, a kid named Vinny, received a position in the Speaker’s office. Nepotism may not be illegal, but it smacks of bad taste to foist on the people a person with no known qualifications, and receive a regular fat paycheck courtesy of the Filipino taxpayer.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture remains headless, unless one would consider a Philippine president acting as Agri secretary as performing the tough task of a full-fledged secretary as being the leader the department needs.
It is precisely because he is president that he cannot credibly perform the task. He is no Superman. He is more like AntMan, which he said was the movie he and his wife were watching when he decided he would run for president.
That too was total nonsense, of course. He later admitted that he had to run in order to save his family’s reputation. It had been in the planning stage for years, decades even.
I suspect BBM has a deep-seated psychological need to travel. He did, after all, grow up having Imelda for a mother; she who saw herself as a globetrotting celebrity back in the day. The way he’s going at it, BBM will soon pile up his travel miles, which he will use once he steps down from the presidency.
He is, in theory, president for a full six-year term, isn’t he? But the way he has been performing, I daresay he may not serve a full term. If he does not deliver the goods for the Agri department – and he hasn’t so far, has he? – he is risking the anger of the Filipino farmer. They all see him travelling first class all over the globe, while they slave away to grow crops that are then purchased from them cheap by traders, who then sell those crops at enormous profits.
The anger of the people at the first Edsa Revolution was primarily supported by the middle class, as was Edsa Dos which toppled Erap Estrada and installed the very unworthy Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as president.
GMA is, incidentally, a frequent fellow traveler of Bongbong. Perhaps she is convincing him that anything and everything he does is fine, and he can get away with it the same way she did during her nine years in power.
Taking along a disgraced ex-president is yet another thing that should be the least of BBM’s priorities.
If he does not shape up, and soon, he will very likely meet the same fate as his dictator father – a recipient of the justified wrath of the people.