The Makati-based research group Stratbase ADR Institute has offered recommendations to presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on various issues and policies in a new book launched Friday.
At least 16 policy scholars wrote their recommendations on foreign policy, security, economy, governance, climate change, and agriculture among many others, said Stratbase ADRi founder Dindo Manhit, and president of its policy think-tank, Albert del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ADRi).
“We need to help the incoming administration think beyond politics… Instead of waiting for the government to establish itself, why don’t we contribute to the discourse,” he said.
The recommendations include the formulation of a new National Security Strategy based on the 2016 arbitral ruling that junked China’s claims to parts of the West Philippine Sea, which President Rodrigo Duterte did not pursue.
Marcos last year said Duterte was employing “the right way” towards Beijing and its rejection of the ruling.
Stratbase ADRi said there must be a clear, cohesive, and consistent foreign policy direction prioritizing the country’s national interest.
Manhit added the country must assert its rights but must have a strategic approach when it comes to foreign policy.
“They [new admin] need to hear the people also, that they would like us to be more assertive and protective of our maritime rights and territorial integrity. And if they have not heard that, we would like to share those studies with them,” he said.
The Philippines must form ties with nations that share common values on democracy and a rules-based approach and strengthen ties with more nations aside from China and the US, the group added.
Scholars also want the new administration to prioritize agriculture and climate change.
They said climate change should not just be considered in connection with the environment, but as an issue that affects all sectors, and must therefore be given priority.
The Philippines should shift away from greenhouse gas inventory-centric approach towards climate change adaptation anchored on sustainable development.
Other recommendations involve investments in the labor force, inequality, governance, accountability, transparency and responsiveness of government agencies, Manhit said.
Dr. Renato De Castro, Dr. Carlos Primo David, Dr. Francisco Magno, Dr. Toby Monsod, Dr. Ronald Mendoza, and Diwa Gunigundo are among the
authors of the book.
The upcoming administration faces challenges not only due to the local supply shortage in pork meat that is pushing inflation upwards, but also the impact of global events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The country is also facing an escalated level of debt-to-GDP ratio coming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said the next administration would inherit a better economy but also higher debt.
So far, the incoming administration under Marcos Jr has not yet presented its agenda nor announced its complete Cabinet appointments.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is set to meet with incoming DILG chief Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. next month for the smooth turnover of responsibilities, especially with the full devolution to local government units (LGUs) which started this year.
Executive Order 138 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last year mandates the full devolution of basic services and facilities from the national government to LGUs, including the increased share of LGUs in all national taxes and revenues.
A Committee on Devolution oversees and monitors the administrative and fiscal decentralization goals of the EO; resolves issues and concerns that may arise in the implementation of the EO; ensures the elimination of any regulatory or fiscal controls on the automatic release of LGU shares; and adopts mechanisms to ensure the continuous delivery of public services by the national government agencies and LGUs, among others.
“We have not talked personally. We only communicate through text messaging and other people. So, we are preparing for this coming June where we will have formal meetings and gatherings for the new DILG secretary),’’ Año told reporters in a phone interview Friday.
Año said they were confident that Abalos, former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman would be able to provide good direction and leadership to both the interior and local government sectors.
“We have worked closely with Chairperson Abalos during the height of the pandemic and we have seen how he ably steered the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic response in the National Capital Region which has resulted in the downward trend of coronavirus cases and the successful rollout of the vaccination program,” he said in a separate statement.
Año said they were hopeful that Abalos would continue and build on the campaign against criminality, illegal drugs, corruption, and communist terrorism that DILG has been focusing on in the past six years.
In other related developments, Director Paul Soriano denied reports and speculations that he was offered a government executive position in the incoming administration.
“I’ve not been offered anything,” Soriano told ABS-CBN News Friday, citing mainstream and social media items that he has been tapped to head Radio TV Malacanang (RTVM).
“I am back to my job, producing films and commercials. Currently, we’re preparing for the straight airing on Netflix this July of the comedy drama, ‘The Untitled’ with Alex Gonzaga.”
Soriano said he also got wind of talk regarding his appointment at the Department of Tourism and the presidential communications team of Marcos.
“No such thing,” he said, qualifying however that he can still be of service to Marcos Jr. on another level.
Asked if he was open to direct Marcos Jr.’s anticipated first State of the Nation address in July, Soriano said, “If there’s a need for me to help, I will be there in whatever capacity. I’ve been supporting him from the start and I will continue to do that. He can count on us.”
Meanwhile, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday the Department of Migrant Workers would be in good hands under the stewardship of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) advocate Susan “Toots” Ople.
“It is a very good appointment,” Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said when sought for comment on the possibility of Ople, daughter of Labor Secretary Blas Ople during President Ferdinand Marcos’ administration being appointed to take the helm of the newly created DMW.
Marcos Jr. recently bared his intention to appoint Ople to head the Migrant Workers department.
“I think it’s a very good appointment. The Department of Migrant Workers will be in very good hands,” said Arriola, who is the current undersecretary for DFA-for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.
“Ma’am Toots [has] been a long-time advocate for OFWs, even her Blas Ople Center has been the partner of the DFA, especially in trafficking cases,” Arriola said, in a press briefing.
“We are very supportive of the appointment. I think she will do very well for the OFWs,” Arriola added.
In still other developments, Philippine Medical Association president Dr. Benito Atienza said the next Secretary of the Department of Health under a new administration should be considerate to people’s sentiments.
Atienza, during the Laging Handa public briefing, said this should be one of the qualities of the next Department of Health Secretary considering that the country is proceeding with the implementation of universal healthcare.
Atienza said the person in the position should be like the former Health Secretary Juan Flavier who can carry the sentiments of the people and value healthcare workers.
Atienza also said the new Health secretary should be patient, understanding, open-minded, and humble.
The camp of Marcos Jr. has yet to name the possible next DOH chief for the next administration.