Tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Manila Overseas Press Club resumes its traditional MOPC President’s Night with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. as guest of honor and speaker.
MOPC has gathered for the occasion more than 400 top media professionals and executives of the country’s leading corporations to listen to the President.
Founded in 1945 by foreign correspondents who came to Manila with General Douglas MacArthur, MOPC is Asia’s oldest press club and the most prestigious press club in the Philippines. I am the current chairman and CEO of MOPC with Eric Canoy of RMN as president.
In his speech, lasting probably for about 30 minutes, or even longer, BBM is expected to tackle recent developments and issues, declare or reaffirm policies, indicate future thrusts, and rally his audience behind his presidency in his quest for a better life for most Filipinos and his ultimate bottomline—that not one more Filipino will be hungry by the end of his term in 2028.
The MOPC audience is the largest ever to be gathered locally to hear the chief executive of the land since his inaugural speech on June 30, 2022 and his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, 2022.
Many of the tycoons in the MOPC’s elite crowd are partners or would-be partners in his modernization program for the economy.
Infra is the cornerstone of that program. Over the next five years, BBM has allotted P10.78 trillion for Build, Build, Build—the largest ever infra spending in the history of this country.
The President might also want to discuss recent changes in his dynamic Cabinet, including two major departures – that of lawyer Vic Rodriguez as executive secretary, and lawyer Trixie Angeles as press secretary.
The two represent two crucial aspects of Palace operation – policy formulation and execution, in Rodriguez’s case, and communications, messaging and advocacy in the case of Trixie Angeles. In this connection, lawyer Jose Calida also resigned yesterday as chair of the Commission on Audit.
The MOPC President’s Night is being staged amid the most challenging times ever for any sitting chief executive. There is turmoil everywhere – inside decision-making board rooms, in currency markets, in stock markets, and on a number of strategic battlefronts.
To be sure, Bongbong came to the presidency with the longest front seat experience.
The young Marcos was barely nine when his father and namesake, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, began his 20-year presidency on Dec. 30, 1965. He met more Popes, more royalty, and more world leaders than any Filipino.
BBM’s major character flaw I think is that the guy is too nice, too decent, and too right-minded as to dominate the vicious rough and tumble of Philippine politics.
Meanwhile, today, if historians and analysts review his performance without a jaundiced eye, Marcos Sr. will easily emerge as probably the greatest Filipino president.
The elder Marcos declared the country’s first genuine program, broadened the democratic base with the regular election of up to 500,000 village-level local officials, neutralized Muslim separatists and prevented the communists from taking over the country.
Above all, FM gave Filipinos a vision of life and that there is greatness in their past and in their future.
Of course, Marcos was debilitated by a seemingly incurable disease, several oil crises and peso devaluations, the worst political assassination ever, the rise of the military (blamed for the murder of Ninoy Aquino), infighting within his once solid as a rock KBL monolith of a party, and by a succession of American governments that did not look kindly on his reducing the term on the use of the military bases from 99 to 25 years and collecting annual rentals.
Thus, the fulsome greatness that Marcos Sr aspired for was not to be fulfilled in his lifetime. Into that vacuum enters Marcos Jr.
President BBM the country’s most popular president. Probably, with his visionary hands-on leadership, a Cabinet vast in expertise and experience, and the right execution, he will be a great president.
Marcos Jr., 65, will do wonders as a leader, despite unprecedented challenges of worldwide food and energy shortages, global inflation spiral, war in Ukraine and fears of war in other places.
And despite walking under the enormous shadow of his late father, Marcos Sr., who had a 20-year reign, from Dec. 30, 1965 to Feb. 25, 1986, the longest of any president.
BBM garnered 31.629 million votes in the May 2022 presidential elections, two to six times the votes of previous winners for president, and more than twice the votes of his nearest rival, the now lame duck Leni Robredo.
Marcos Jr. took 59 percent of the 53.8 million votes cast for president; only Marcos Sr. had a larger share, 61 percent when he won reelection in 1969.
BBM won in 64 of the country’s major 80 provinces, in 15 of 17 regions, in mainland Luzon, the largest island; in nearly all the 100 largest cities, including the 15 cities and two towns of Metro Manila, the national capital.
BBM’s victory unified north and southern Philippines and consolidated his stranglehold on the central part of the archipelago. There is no precedent for such an awesome mandate in the last 124 years of the Republic.
Today, there are only three opposition members in the 311-member House of Representatives, and three in the 24-member Senate.
The judiciary, of course, is usually friendly to the incumbent president.
There is very little President Marcos Jr. cannot do.
“The son has also risen,” said BBM in his inaugural on June 30, 2022.
“You will not be disappointed,” he assured the nation of 114 million Filipinos. “So do not be afraid.”