Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday outlined the four most pressing issues that President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. must immediately address.
Drilon said these are the inadequate healthcare system, a pandemic-battered economy, a failing education system, and a weak rule of law.
He said Marcos should capitalize on the so-called “honeymoon period” and “exercise political will in the first 100 days of his presidency to address these four urgent issues that remain unresolved and define his legislative priorities.”
“First and foremost, the issue of health. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weakness and inadequacy of our healthcare system. We lack hospitals. Our health information system is inefficient. We do not provide sufficient protection and benefits to our healthcare professionals both in the public and private sectors,” Drilon said.
He cited the need for long-term solutions.
“We must have more hospitals. We must strengthen our Universal Health Care program. We must appoint the right people in PhilHealth as our main health insurance agency,” Drilon said.
“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said, citing, for instance, the corruption and overpricing controversies that hounded PhilHealth.
The country’s weak healthcare system coupled by the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic put the country in a dire situation, he added.
Drilon also lamented the poor state of education system in the country that is made even worse by the pandemic.
Citing an earlier World Bank report that that showed that 9 out of 10 kids aged 10 in the country cannot read, Drilon said that a roadmap must be immediately put in place, because the effect is long term if the problems facing the country’s educational system is not addressed immediately.
Last week, the Senate ratified the bicameral report that seeks to establish the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) tasked to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the education system.
Based on the World Bank study, Drilon said the learning poverty is alarming at 90 percent in 2020, whereas Indonesia has 35.4 percent, Malaysia at13.9 percent, Singapore at 2.8 percent, Thailand at 23.5 percent, and Vietnam at 1.7 percent.
In the said report, the Philippines joined Ethiopia at 90.3 percent, Madagascars at 96.7 percent, Yemen at 94.7 percent, and Afghanistan at 93.4 percent with the worst learning poverty.
“This should worry the next administration. I cannot imagine a future with 9 out of 10 Filipino children who cannot read,” Drilon said.
The outgoing senator said the incoming president should build a strong economy who can lead the country in our bid to restore the economy.
“The key here is the economic managers. The President-elect must choose a strong and cohesive economic team that shares a common vision. His team must be able to formulate fiscal policies that will put the economy on a path to recovery,” Drilon said.
“We need not just the best minds but team players. The next economic team must be able to work with the legislative in terms of legislation,” he said.
“The economy is in a very difficult situation. We have a debt of P12.68 trillion as of March. We continuously incur a huge budget deficit because of our inefficient tax collection that is made even worse by the pandemic. Our COVID-19 war chest is dwindling, yet, the pandemic is still within our midst,” Drilon said.
He also cited the high prices of fuel prices due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine that further caused inflation to rise.
“As I said before, the next president should brace for the heavy impact of the oil crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, high budget deficit, and ballooning debt,” Drilon said.
Lastly, the former justice secretary also called on the incoming president to restore the people’s confidence in the rule of law and the justice system, which, he said, was greatly affected by the so-called war on drugs that killed thousands of Filipinos in the past six years.
The rise in the number of extra-judicial killings, including lawyers and journalists, as well as red tagging incidence are symptoms of a weak rule of law, Drilon said.
In the global Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project (WJP) in 2020, the country’s ranking slipped to its worst since 2010. The country ranked 102nd among 139 countries in terms of adherence to the rule of law.