OFFLINE: Rating his first 100 days

Last Saturday marked President Bongbong Marcos’ first 100 days as chief executive and as expected, various parties gave their respective scorecards on his performance.

Unexpected, however, was his not giving any rating of himself, as is the practice of most presidents after their first three months in office.

His political allies, of course, gave him the highest marks.

I can understand his own cousin, the Speaker of the House, gushing over the performance of Bongbong. But I have to take issue with Senate President Migz Zubiri, who seems to have forgotten that he heads a co-equal branch of government.

Marcos leads the executive, Zubiri heads the legislative branch of government.

Why then did he try to outdo Speaker Romualdez and all the rest of the president’s allies in practically elevating Marcos to the level of deity?

It is both insulting and humiliating for Zubiri to fawn all over the president. If he truly believed that Marcos did a good job as chief executive, he could have said so in just a few words.

In one of the shows at CNN Philippines where I now work, host Rico Hizon asked a few experts how they graded Marcos as head of the country.

Marcos would be most pleased at what the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines had to say. In short, he gave the prez two thumbs up.

Since he speaks for the US companies with Philippine operations, that score is most meaningful.

At the same time, the Social Weather Stations came up with its own survey and Marcos generally got favorable reviews.

The only failing mark he got was in his administration’s inability to keep rising food and oil prices in check.

I can only speak for myself, but God almighty. I can only shed a quiet tear or two whenever my partner and I head to the nearest supermarket for our weekly supply of groceries, and everything else.

The bad news is that this current period of high inflation will last, at least until the end of the year. The good news, if it can be called that, is that the country is still a long way off from double digit inflation.

I am not an economist and can only speak as a layman, but the president is well advised to take extreme measures if necessary to curb inflation.

I consider myself as part of the middle class, but the way prices of commodities are spiraling upwards, I may see myself as poor sooner or later. Boo hoo, huh?

The objective analysts generally give the president much credit for his choice of Cabinet secretaries, especially those involved in economic and fiscal matters.

While almost all blame the actions of the US Fed for the fall of the peso, which means that the cost of imports goes up, this should not be used as an excuse. Other nations are facing the same effects of the Fed’s non-stop raising of interest rates, but some are doing better than others. What then do our experts say about keeping inflation down and arresting the fall of the peso?

As expected, Marcos will constantly receive unending advice, some of them contradictory. In the end, the decisions will always have to be his.

One analyst said the president should not be judged based on his first 100 days in office, but on his first 365 days as president. This makes sense.

Meanwhile, the president should also take note that his actions that are deemed personal – such as heading to Singapore to watch the Formula One races – leave a bad taste in the mouth. PR people would call it negative optics.

In simpler English, it looks bad. So he should be more circumspect in his choice of activities, none of which can be hidden from the public for long.

Personally, I still believe that the President of the Republic of the Philippines should be perceived more as the Chief Executive Officer of Philippines, Inc.

Having worked in the private sector for the past four decades, I have to ask: do the actions of the general managers of the private companies I worked for have an effect on the bottom line?

Should the President and CEO have his alone time?

Former President Erap Estrada worked under this premise. He insisted that one day a week, he should be left alone to do what he wanted to do.

To some extent, former President Rodrigo Duterte had this same attitude, except he often took it to extremes. He would sleep until noon, and sometimes disappear for days on end.

It may be argued that Bongbong Marcos has his own managerial style, but he should be aware that being president of a country is a 24/7 job.

(I should cite former US President Donald Trump, but that would be a horrible example. After slamming former President Barack Obama for playing too much golf, he went and played more golf that all the presidents of the 20th century combined.)

He may not like it, but this President Marcos should follow the example of two former presidents, who have since departed this mortal plane – Fidel Ramos and Benigno Aquino III. Because they took their work seriously, they left office with their heads held high and an economy that was thriving.

Other supposed experts gave Marcos lower scores than the AmCham head, but still mostly passing.

My own take goes thus:

  • I agree that some of your Cabinet secretaries were good choices.
  • Forget about taking the Agriculture portfolio, the presidency is a full-time job
  • Name a permanent Health secretary now, as there are many issues aside from COVID that need to be addressed
  • Go easy on the partying, since you already won over an outstanding opponent
  • Lastly, optics are important so don’t forget that millions of Filipinos remain jobless, countless families still go hungry regularly, and the government bureaucracy remains one of the most corrupt in the world.

Address the big problems first, and reward yourself with the dream you’ve had for decades, which is to clear the family name. Be a good president and you will be respected by the people. Be a great president and you will be loved by all, even your enemies.

I hope to give you a high score, ok? After your first 365 days.