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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The first month

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When the month of July is over, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will have completed a full month in the highest executive post.

After his State of the Nation Address last Monday, we now have a clearer picture of the government’s main thrusts and targets in the economic, political and social spheres.

As expected, the Chief Executive continued to appoint people to Cabinet positions still left vacant after the May polls.

Among his latest appointments was that of Toni Yulo-Loyzaga as Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which has been welcomed by environmental groups. Yulo-Loyzaga previously served as chairperson of the International Advisory Board of the Manila Observatory, and as technical adviser of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.

Upon assuming office, Yulo-Loyzaga underscored the importance of fighting climate change “through practical climate change adaptation measures, the use of science to approach national scale as well as local scale impacts of climate change…We live in a multi-hazard environment not just from natural hazards but also from industrial and technological hazards. These hazards have led to the development of systemic risks and threats to our entire economic and social systems.”

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She also vowed to protect indigenous species as part of the country’s national heritage.

Another recent appointee was Yogi Filemon Ruiz as acting commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, one of the two main revenue collection agencies of the national government but perceived to be one of the cradles of corruption as well.

Prior to his appointment as acting Customs chief, Ruiz had been working in the bureau since 2017 as director of enforcement and security services which is in charge of the Customs police.

Ruiz was director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas for a year before he joined the Customs. Will Ruiz be able to redeem the tarnished image of the BOC? We’ll have to wait and see.

President Marcos sits concurrently as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. This reflects the priority he gives to the agriculture sector as a mainstay of the economy and the importance he attaches to ensuring food security amid frenzied efforts to revive the economy after the onslaught of COVID-19 for more than two years now.

News reports indicate that the Chief Executive has met three times with the key officials of the Agriculture Department to map out policies and projects.

Recall that during the campaign, Marcos vowed to bring down the price of rice, the country’s staple food, to P20 a kilo. He clarified later that this was an aspirational figure, something that the government seeks to achieve under ideal conditions, and quite possibly not immediately.

Marcos has less than two months to go before the traditional “honeymoon period” for a new president ends, as far as media are concerned, with his first 100 days in office. It’s a period when missteps and miscalculations made by the new Malacañang occupant are often ignored as birth pains, or even as part of lessons learned.

After the first 100 days, however, it’s open season for critics to sharpen their knives and point out what’s wrong and what needs to be improved in governance.

After all, that’s how democracy works, and the media would only be doing what’s expected of them.

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