OFFLINE: The disturbing first steps of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
What was it that Han Solo liked to say? I have a bad feeling about this. Or was it Indiana Jones?
Whoever between the two fictional heroes said it, I am not alone in thinking that supposed President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr is not showing any signs that he will be a good leader. Not even a competent one.
So I believe that countless Filipinos like myself are having a bad feeling about the incoming administration.
As a Filipino, I should give Marcos Jr. the benefit of the doubt. I should wish him luck and success. I should pray that he lifts the country out of the deep rut it is stuck in.
But his actions tell me that he will have a trial-and-error presidency, which is why the all-important business community can only adopt a wait-and-see attitude instead of being gung ho about the next six years.
Immediately after it became clear that he had won the presidential race, what did he do?
He celebrated in the grandest style imaginable, chugging down $1,000 bottles of wine at the country’s ritziest casino-hotel. He then followed this up by booking all the cabins in the Philippines’ most expensive resort, where the smallest one goes for a “measly” $2,000 a night.
Then he decided it was a good idea to head for Australia for what his camp said was a “private vacation.”
In between his celebrating the good life, he appointed the first members of his Cabinet, and his choices show that he didn’t think things through.
His first appointment was his running mate Sara Duterte getting the Education post, and for the first time in history the all-important post – which has the biggest slice of the national budget – will be headed by a hot-headed lady who has no background whatsoever in education. None. Zero. Zilch. Wala!
Then Junior announced the appointment of his campaign manager Benhur Abalos as his Interior Secretary. Like all of his appointees thus far, he picked an old-school trapo, a backslapping politician who thrives best in backroom deals resulting in under-the-table agreements.
This week, he added Cavite Rep. Remulla as his incoming Justice secretary. Even Cavitenos were aghast at that senseless choice. This is the guy who may be a lawyer, but has never proven himself to be a very good one.
Junior also appointed his longtime spokesman Vic Rodriguez as his incoming Executive Secretary. This is the same lawyer who avoided real journalists like the plague, and gave the most irrational answers when asked straightforward questions.
I shudder to think who or what he will appoint next.
If there is one apparent bright spot among his unconfirmed choices, it is the choice of a retired president of one of the country’s biggest banks to handle the Finance portfolio. That candidate was a grade school classmate of his, it seems.
If Junior is not aware of it yet, he faces humungous, monumental problems when he assumes office a little more than a month from now. For one, the national government has spent almost all of its allotted budget for the year, thanks to Rodrigo Duterte, who never seemed to comprehend that financial needs of the government.
So what will Junior do about this dire situation? Will he take the idiotic step of ordering the printing of more money in order to pay for the continued operation of the bureaucracy?
He may be dumb enough to take this very dangerous step, which will weaken the Philippine peso and cause double digit inflation in the bat of an eye.
His true believers think that Junior will be wise enough to recruit the best of the best to be part of his official family. Since he is no bright boy himself, at least being surrounded by competent and honest bureaucrats may help him lift the country out of its present morass.
I seriously doubt it.
During the campaign period, I got into several occasionally verbally violent exchanges with a few of his followers. Of them, I asked one question that no one could answer: What has he accomplished to deserve the presidency?
I never got a single rational reply.
What I got were the usual illogical answers like, “basta!” or “let’s see” or “give him a chance.”
In social media, a frequently asked question was whether one would ride a plane piloted by a guy whose only claim to fame was having a father who was a pilot himself.
Of those in the business community who were supporters of his, I asked a similar question: Would you appoint Junior to head your company? Would stockholders of any Top 1,000 corporation agree to have him as their chief executive officer?
The answer is an obvious no. Yet the stockholders of Philippines Inc. in their infinite wisdom deigned to place him at the helm of a company that is already struggling to stay afloat.
So yes, ladies and gentlemen. Brace yourselves because the worst is yet to come.
Like it or not, the whole world is watching. More importantly, global investors are asking if the Philippines has become a hopeless train wreck of a country, or if it is still worth investing in.
Those global investors will determine if the economy will sink, swim or get stuck in quicksand, and the initial indications are not good.
The stock market, for one, has not exactly celebrated the return of Junior to Malacanang. And yes, the bourse is the best indicator of where the economy is now, and where it is likely going.
Do I believe that Junior will spring a surprise and prove himself an effective leader?
In a word, no. Negative, nyet, hindi!
Just as one cannot squeeze water from a stone, one cannot expect greatness where mediocrity has always been his lot.
Junior does not have what it takes. He never has, and he never will.
Unfortunately for the Republic of the Philippines, the electorate supposedly legitimately elected a lazy college dropout whom the soon-to-exit president said was a weak leader who was also a drug addict.
Think the bloodthirsty Digong Duterte was an awful president? The incompetent Marcos Junior will be worse, if that is even possible.
To repeat: I have a bad feeling about this.