There are good and bad things to be expected by the country this year.
Among the bad things, first and foremost, is the continued high inflation which has caused the prices of prime commodities, especially affecting the bulk of the nation like the poor.
We expect the continuation of the food crisis which means that we have to import rice and other prime commodities.
Another bad thing that inflation has caused is the continuous demand for higher wages, still pending before the Labor Department, and also the high price of transport fares because of the continuous increase of prices of gasoline and diesel, including kerosene.
The looming energy crisis is also something to watch out for this year, which will challenge President Marcos Jr.
Another bad thing to expect this year is the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there are reports that COVID-19 cases have been declining nationwide, there is the threat of the recurrence every now and then of a possible surge COVID-19 cases.
This could only mean that COVID pandemic in the Philippines will continue this year.
On the other side of the coin, we could expect the economy to recover because of sound fundamentals and the economic recovery this year.
And with the recovery of the economy, we can expect the generation of more jobs, especially so with President Bongbong Marcos having gotten so many pledges from foreign investors during his many trips abroad.
To me, Bongbong Marcos is still the greatest salesman of the country.
Another good thing to expect this year is the final approval of the Maharlika Investment Fund which could be used by the government to invest in infrastructure and other high profit projects.
Another good thing we can expect is lower prices for the almighty onion.
My only wish this year is that, despite the continuous COVID-19 pandemic, the country will not go into recession , unlike so many other countries that expect a recession this year.
I am just relying on the economic managers of BBM who have promised to make the Philippines an investment destination.
While the nation celebrates the Christmas holidays, hundreds of families in the Bicol region, Eastern Visayas and more especially in Northern Mindanao, particularly Misamis Occidental, where torrential rains poured and flooded villages, had to spend their Christmas in evacuation centers or had to stay home to protect their things from looters.
Santa Banana, it is a tragedy for those affected Filipinos in the midst of cheers and happy reunions. My gulay, there was even a tragic landslide that killed many people, not counting the deaths caused by floods in those areas.
Amidst all these tragedies, the much needed and clearly imperative bill, which has long been lingering in the Senate remains not enacted because President Bongbong Marcos has refused to certify the bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience or DDR that could well handle calamities and disasters nationwide.
From my point of view, it’s doubly tragic that there is only one senator, Christopher Lawrence “Bong ‘’ Go, pushing for the creation of a DDR.
I really don’t know what the other senators are thinking, but it’s obvious they don’t realize the imperative and critical need for a DDR.
This latest tragedy, which resulted in 44 deaths and many more injured or missing, caused by continuous rains and landslides, is the latest example of a disaster and calamity that the Philippines is prone to.
There are so many super and killer typhoons and cyclones that hit the country regularly, killing people by the hundreds, devastating agriculture and livelihood, infrastructure, and causing the loss of billions of pesos in their aftermath.
Speaking of priorities, I am amazed that while Bongbong Marcos is pushing for the creation of a nationwide water resources department, he’d rather have an agency under his office created for disaster rather than a DDR.
This time I blame BBM for his lack of a sense for what is really a priority and imperative, knowing full well what has been happening in a country prone to disasters and calamities, like floods, landslides, earthquakes, storm surges, volcanic eruptions, and their tragic aftermath.
I have been praising BBM, but this time, I believe his sense of priorities is wrong.
Common sense calls for some sense of priorities, like the imperative and critical need for a DDR that can focus and strategize all the needs of the country in the wake of much devastation and destruction, more especially with so many lives lost simply because we do not have a DDR.
Yes, we have the NDRRMC, or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which has since devolved into regional and provincial councils.
But they are only “ad hoc” bodies that can be called upon when calamity and disasters happen, my gulay!
And this NDRRMC is only “ad hoc” (temporary) under the Office of the National Defense, an agency of the Department of National Defense.
Santa Banana, what we need, like yesterday, is a department devoted solely in the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation of people who are in the path of typhoons, cyclones and floods and landslides, and their disasters and calamities.
We need a DDR which has its own budget to take care of relief immediately, instead of a NDRRMC or RDRRMC, or PDRRMC like we have, always depending on donations and foreign relief in the aftermath of a disaster or calamity, which usually have victims crying out for relief in the aftermath.
And this DDR could well put up evacuation centers, instead of victims having to seek shelter in school buildings and indoor gymnasiums without the necessary facilities.
If the Marcos administration is worried about funds allocation for the DDR, Bongbong could start right-sizing the bureaucracy now.
My gulay, there are so many useless and needless agencies that could well be abolished.
To mention a few, there’s the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, which has been made just a dumping ground of political proteges.
The MTRCB is truly useless because producers of movies and television could well rate and classify their own productions, as they have been doing.
Santa Banana, is there a need to rate and classify NETFLIX or HBO? That would be senseless.
If I recall correctly, the MTRCB was created during the administration of Bongbong’s late father because of fear that insurgents and members of the communist party could use movies and television to criticize the government.
With the onset of modern communication and information technology, my gulay, with just a tap on your touchscreen, one can access any TV network worldwide and watch all the foreign productions in all the television channels.
There is also the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the first act of the late President Cory Aquino to go after reported alleged hidden and unexplained wealth of the Marcoses.
Members of the PCGG board could well be absorbed by the Department of Justice.
To me, the PCGG is a useless agency, wasting government money to go after the Marcoses, and losing in fact all its cases against the Marcoses and their cronies. What a waste of government resources!
Then, there is the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel , which has become a virtual hotbed of corruption.
In fact, when a former OGCC chief wanted to stop corruption in the agency, he became the target of political proteges, and he was replaced.
Another useless agency is the Climate Change Commission composed of a board with a chairman having the rank of a department secretary and board members having the rank of cabinet undersecretaries and receiving their respective salaries.
And, Santa Banana, what do they do for climate change?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, but attend conferences abroad on climate change. My gulay, what a waste of money!
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista has proposed that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport be privatized.
This has been proposed for many recent years following much criticism against NAIA worldwide.
If only to stop all the bad news that NAIA has become the worst airport in the world, and regionally the most depressing international airport, we need a game-changing international gateway, unlike NAIA.
I am sure there are tycoons and taipans just waiting for a government bidding for privatization.
There had been proposals from conglomerates to improve NAIA, but unfortunately they soon pulled out for unknown reasons.
Reports have it that the terms of reference set by the government could not be accepted by the conglomerates.
But, with the Asian Development Bank helping out the Department of Transportation in adopting the terms of reference, I am sure that there are conglomerates just waiting for the chance.
International gateways around the world have already privatized their international airports. And it’s time the Philippines should catch up. Go for it, Mister President.
We, Filipinos, deserve to be proud of our main international gateway.
Santa Banana, every time I travel abroad, it breaks my heart to see other international airports so modern be jealous of.
But, every time I come home, I am ashamed of NAIA so antiquated, my gulay, that I become depressed.
It’s a good thing that a game changer like the P740 billion Bulacan airport of San Miguel Corporation is coming up, but not until four years from now.
President Marcos Jr. should realize that this is what we need now, an international gateway we can be proud of to show to foreign investors.
That’s a must, Mister President.