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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Jul 5, 2023

PBBM’s first year in office

Last June 30 marked the first year in office of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. after being voted by more than 31 million Filipinos.

There was no honeymoon phase for the President as he had to immediately roll up his sleeves and get down to work. He had to ensure strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and had to shield the economy from the impact of global issues that are greatly affecting the availability and prices of local commodities.

The President himself said that there’s still a lot to be done to fulfill his campaign promises. For instance, his administration needs to fill in the decades of neglect in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture has always been a priority for the President. His assumption as agriculture secretary is a clear indication of his strong resolve to address the lingering problems in the sector and achieve food security.

In fact, one of his programs is the Kadiwa ng Pangulo, which seeks to address inflation by providing the public with affordable and high-quality products. Products such as rice at ₱25 per kilo, fish, poultry and livestock, fruits and vegetables, and other basic commodities are made accessible and affordable to Filipinos, especially poor families. As we can now see that having ₱25 per kilo of rice is possible, the goal of having ₱20 per kilo of rice is possible as well.

There are already more than 300 Kadiwa centers in the country, and the President’s commitment is to establish more to help local producers earn a higher income by eliminating intermediaries and, at the same time, allow consumers to buy agricultural products and other goods at a lower price.

However, in order to sustain the operations of Kadiwa, there needs to be increased production of all agricultural commodities. That is why the government is implementing the concept of ‘vertical integration’ to address the multi-faceted issues hounding the agriculture sector, including hoarding and smuggling of agricultural products.

The President has also established meaningful reforms in his first year in office. In all his state visits and other official trips abroad, he would always meet with the Filipino community to honor them for their contributions to the nation and to ensure them that the government is working hard to protect their interests.

His meetings with foreign companies have also brought in investments for the country. For instance, during his state visit to China, aside from the signing of 14 bilateral agreements, the President secured for the country investment pledges from Chinese businessmen amounting to US$22.8 billion.

During the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels, the President met with business leaders from different European companies and secured ₱9.8 billion worth of investment pledges, particularly in the sectors of fast moving consumer goods, shipbuilding, renewable energy, and green metals.

Meanwhile, his official visit to the US generated over US$1.3 billion in investment pledges that have the potential to create around 6,700 new jobs for Filipinos.

All these investments would mean more job opportunities for Filipinos.

The President has been emphasizing the need to create more jobs and livelihood opportunities in order to bounce back from the pandemic. 

We are seeing the gains of his administration’s move to fully reopen the economy as the country’s unemployment rate continues to drop. In the latest Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent in April 2023, from 5.7 percent in the same month last year.  In January 2023, unemployment rate was posted at 4.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the Marcos administration is also pushing for the implementation of critical infrastructure projects to ensure interconnectivity of major roads and expressways, and build needed roads and bridges in strategic places around the country.

The President has approved 194 high-impact priority projects as part of the government’s Build Better More program. These are new projects as well as those that have been carried over from the previous administration.

Definitely, more needs to be done in order to achieve the goal of a “matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay” for all Filipinos. The Marcos administration has laid out the plan for this, but we all need to work with the President, to work together — the whole of government and society — to achieve a prosperous, inclusive and resilient society.

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