With President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. marking his first 100 days in office today, House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Thursday lauded him for steering the country in the right direction “of robust economic growth” and gaining steady progress toward full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Philippines is right on track, and is sprinting steadily during the first 100 days of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Our economy has bounced back from the ravages brought by the global pandemic and has already reached the first stage to full recovery,” Romualdez said.
“The future indeed looks brighter under the Marcos administration. Businesses now ramping up activity, new jobs are created, and lost jobs are restored, and economic activities have turned dynamic once again,” he added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the President believes he has successfully assembled a “functional” government composed of the best and the brightest Cabinet members as he marks his first 100 days in office on October 8.
“I think what we have managed to do in the first 100 days is put together a government that is functional and which has a very, very good idea of what we are targeting in terms of strict economic targets for example, in terms of the numbers of growth, the numbers of our different measures, the different metrics that we are using for the economy,” he said Wednesday night in a press conference.
Mr. Marcos, who became the country’s 17th Chief Executive on June 30, was the guest of honor during the President’s Night organized by the Manila Overseas Press Club held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on Wednesday.
He said he was very grateful to his Cabinet members, particularly his economic managers, for their efforts to put in place plans to “transform” the post-pandemic economy.
As President, he admitted he was concerned about being regarded as only doing the bare minimum, but instead managed to “galvanize” the government by reminding them of the urgency of working for the betterment of the nation and country.
“I think all of those at least in the higher positions in government and even slowly it’s filtering down to the rank and file are beginning to feel that there is a point to government, there is something that we need to be doing,” Mr. Marcos said.
The President has also done “very well” in engaging the international business community, and this was evident in the latter’s most recent trip to Singapore, the Speaker added in a chance interview with reporters Thursday.
“I think he’s done very well. They now know—our friends in the region know— that the Philippines is open for business and that the Marcos administration, his administration is ushering in a whole new environment for business and investments and that would augur well for the economy, especially during these times,” Romualdez said.
The President flew to Singapore last Saturday at the invitation of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who invited the Filipino leader to watch the Formula One Grand Prix race in the city.
Romualdez and other government officials accompanied Mr. Marcos, who made a state visit to Singapore last September 4 to 7, on the weekend trip.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III told the Chief Executive to “keep his eyes on the ball” considering his overwhelming mandate from Filipinos, 31 million of whom voted him into power in the May 9 elections.
While he believes that the President is trying his best as a leader, Pimentel advised Mr. Marcos to focus on the country’s battles with rising inflation, the high cost of fuel, and joblessness.
“I believe he’s trying his best, but he has to minimize his movements and activities, which give us a hint of some insensitivity to what our people are going through right now,” he said.
“This is really a very difficult time to govern,” said Pimentel, noting that the world’s situation is “very unpredictable, if not chaotic.”
For his part, Sen. Robin Padilla said the President’s first 100 days “is a good start that I hope will be sustained in the President’s next 2,092 days in his term – from October 8, 2022 to June 30, 2028 – to address the other problems our nation faces.”
Padilla noted that over the last 3 ½ months, the President has taken the role of “traveling salesman” in attracting investments from other countries and is personally addressing the nation’s concerns on food and agriculture as concurrent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
“And this is where our help will matter. We must unite to support what is right and correct what is wrong because the President’s victory is a win for our Motherland – and most importantly, a win for all Filipinos,” the senator and former movie star added.
According to Romualdez, the President’s gains are made possible with his prudent choice of the best economic team and the meticulous crafting of the Medium Term Fiscal Framework to serve as the roadmap to steer the country back to its high-growth trajectory.
The Speaker, a first cousin of Mr. Marcos, acknowledged that serious challenges face the country as post-pandemic shock and global tensions continue to push the economies of the world to the brink.
“We need business to keep going. We need to provide more jobs to those able to work, and we need to keep prices of basic commodities down to pre-pandemic level,” Romualdez said.
During these challenging times, he said the sincere and consistent call of President Marcos for unity gained even more significance.
“We can only hope to build a stronger nation resilient enough to withstand the shocks of external crisis if we remain united and work together for the common good,” the Speaker said.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte echoed Romualdez’s commendation to the President in his first 100 days in office, despite the government’s limited fiscal space resulting from the required huge healthcare and economic stimulus spending during the two-year pandemic.
“The President was correct in anchoring our country’s rebound from COVID-19 on generating more capital from both foreign and local investors and sustaining the massive infrastructure program of the past administration to stimulate high growth and create jobs at the start of his presidency,” he said.
On economic diplomacy alone, Villafuerte noted the President’s official trips to Indonesia, Singapore, and the United States have yielded almost P20 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges combined.
These are projected to create a total of 134,000 jobs for Filipinos, according to Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party (NUP).
“President Marcos has done well in his first 100 days in office, hitting his stride already at the onset of his six-year term with major initiatives and feats meant to set in motion the Philippines’ economic and political resurgence, and communicating adeptly how he intends to achieve that vision, in keeping with his ‘Bangon bayan muli’ campaign pledge for all Filipinos,” he said.
Even before the President assumed office last June 30, Villafuerte said Mr. Marcos had “sprung a surprise” on even his critics with his excellent choices for his would-be Cabinet.
They ranged from the highly respected technocrats for his economic team to outgoing or former local executives to head major departments, the former Camarines Sur governor added.
Villafuerte also said the President has managed to communicate effectively to the international community in his overseas journeys and to the Filipino public in his speaking engagements and out-of-town trips his vision for an upper middle-income Philippines at peace with its neighbors and where—in the Chief Executive’s words—there will be “not one more hungry Filipino.”
“What the President has adeptly managed to convey over the past 100 days with his slew of initial actions, projects and speeches is this he has a clear grasp of what and where the Philippines should be in the near future—and how he intends to take us there on his watch,” he said.
Meanwhile, with an overwhelming majority in Congress supporting President Marcos and a responsible minority, Romualdez expressed confidence the administration would be able to sustain the country’s growth momentum.
Mr. Marcos said his first 50 to 100 days in government focused on “putting out fires”, citing various problems in the agriculture sector such as sugar and fertilizer supply woes.
To date, the Marcos administration has prioritized efforts to secure food sufficiency and post-pandemic growth.
During his recent state visits to Indonesia and Singapore, the Marcos administration promoted agricultural cooperation and encourage trade investment in key sectors.
He said the DA, which he chairs, has also continuously provided production inputs to farmers and fisherfolk, such as high-quality seeds and fertilizers, as well as post-harvest machinery and facilities, including trucks, dryers, and mills, which can potentially contribute to their productivity.
In terms of engagements, Marcos touted renewing and forging contracts with countries he has visited during the first 100 days of his presidency.
“The nice thing is the Philippines has many friends around the world and these contracts and friendships we have been able to renew,” he said.
Marcos also took pride in having shown the world that the Philippines is “standing on its own two feet” during his debut on the international stage — his attendance at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
“We have been able to show that the Philippines is standing on its feet, the Philippines continues to have its aspirations and its dreams, and we are willing to do our part in making those dreams come true…Partnerships once again are going to be important and we invite you to join us,” he said.
He described his recent engagements abroad as a “coming out party” for the Philippines.
“This is the coming out party for the Philippines and we are able to explain what the Philippines is now, this is what the Philippines looks after two and a half years of crisis, this is what the Philippines is doing, and this is how we can help each other because not any one country is going to manage this transformation by themselves and we would need each other’s help,” he added.