A NEW HOPE

What we want from the Philippine Government in 2017

By Kristine Abante

 

2016 has been a tumultuous year in Philippine politics, yet in essence, it also has been a triumphant year, if you will consider the effective gains of the current administration in just over six months and how the disruptive, controversial style of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has turned things around.

“Change” was the banner cry of Duterte campaign, and six months in, we are getting a taste of those real changes. Now whether you believe those changes are something to celebrate or something to fear, we have to admit that the biggest change this new era of Philippine politics has brought on was the fact that it got us all up on our toes again after a long period of apathy.

“All rebellions are built on hope” says Star Wars Rouge One, and right now despite the naysayers, the general consensus is that the Philippines has a fighting chance if we play our cards right.

It is, indeed, only the beginning and for things to move we should not lose the momentum. Now that we have found our voice again, 2017 is the time to make demands and put our duly elected government to task.

Here are 7 things we’d like to see from PRRD and his troopers this 2017 :

 

  • Better communications

 

We are all witness to the power of media, particularly social media last year, and how it can make or break a campaign. From Duterte to Trump, we know that communication plays a vital role in engaging and mobilizing audiences.

What we ask of PRRD and his communications team is to be more effective in conveying the message of change by practicing responsibility in words and in actions.

Though the president and his supporters will argue that it would be difficult for the 71-year old to change his habits, Digong and his colleagues can certainly try to practice restraint, or quite simply just only stick to what is necessary and try harder at avoiding words that leave a lot of room for misinterpretation – unless of course, that is the strategy. A lot of times, shallow controversies just arise of words usually taken out of context. So why not just make an effort to avoid them? Put the spotlight back on the real issues.

Also it would help if the communications team would stop trying to sell the “Rockstar” soundbyte too much. Real rockstars don’t need to declare themselves as such. Always, the work will speak for itself.

 

  • A long term plan on the “War on Drugs”

We have seen the bloody first phase – a campaign promise delivered that left us all reeling with reality of humongous drug problem facing the Philippines. Over a million surrenderees and 2,000 deaths later, there is no clear end in sight.

Digong has always stressed the lack of funds to build Rehab centers coming to this mid-term, but now that its 2017 and the ball is in his full control, we expect to see the second phase of the plan which should focus more on rehabilitation and reintegration.

What do we do with the surrenderees? How do we integrate these addicts back and and transform them into productive members of society again? What about the police operations? Where is the plan to avoid more collateral damage?

We understand that going against an armed and well established network of drug cartels is a complicated, dangerous task that requires a pragmatic, heavy-handed approach, but it does come at a cost – one that we can no longer brush aside as the death toll looms. Forget politics, and the yellow agenda, PRRD, General Bato, the Department of Justice, our lawmakers; they all need to stop being defensive and start providing better solutions.

 

  • More Incentive and Protection for our OFW’s

 

In a few short months, we have seen a quite an improvement in OFW affairs: from the promised one-stop shop, to the elimination of laglag-bala threat, the quick action on stranded OFW’s in Saudi,  the fairer treatment for Hong Kong maids and more recently the OFW bank.

Most OFW’s have been very vocal of their support of the president. This is evident in all his trips to meet the Filipino community abroad where there is always a huge gathering of excited fans welcoming Digong and his entourage.

In return, we expect that this government further provide assistance and incentives to our modern day heroes and not just simply lip service. For instance, it would be great to have better quality operations of Consulate services and Labor offices especially in critical territories like the Middle east. It would be great if our Consulate starts providing free legal assistance or a 24- hotline for distressed OFWs.

Furthermore, the government can make better use of social media to better reach out to Filipinos abroad.

Government should also try to look into improving processes with better online connectivity and using less paper. If we can eliminate long lines and excess fees by online forms it would be big help especially for those with very little free time. They really should look into issues like the necessity of the OEC. Surely there can be a better way tracking registered OFW’s without having to go through so much hassle every time we want to go on vacation.

 

  • Food Security

 

The Department of Agriculture has so far done an excellent job in terms of providing support for our farmers and fishermen. One only needs to follow Secretary Manny Piñol’s Facebook page to know the many positive changes brought on by this admin in a short span of time, including land distribution, the modernization of facilities and the move towards being independent producers.

There is a great opportunity in our agriculture sector and we ask this government to harness it to its full potential, thereby providing food security.

Taking inspiration from the UAE, Food banks can be also be established nationwide to eliminate wastage and provide for the less fortunate. For instance, Duterte’s Kitchen is a great idea that needs to be made official and replicated in many more places.  

What we want from the Philippine Government in 2017

 

  • Better, Faster Affordable Internet

 

Down with the monopoly of a few telco players! We have had enough of their crappy service and expensive rates. If we are ever going to be globally competitive, we need high-speed internet that could support our businesses, our education facilities, and all kinds of transactions. With the traffic in EDSA, the least you can do is get us all mobile.

Let us Skype and Facetime properly with our associates and our families abroad. Let us have access to streaming services that can better facilitate cultural and information exchange. Improve the internet services and you will see how we can work faster, better, and more efficient.  We are the social media capital of the world for crying out loud, so please get us up to speed!

 

  • Tourism beyond Miss Universe

 

The Tourism slide in the current Admin’s list of achievements is quite dull, and frankly, disappointing. There has got to be something more than just bringing the Miss Universe beauty pageant to the Philippines next year. The Philippines is the new Thailand – the current toast of the town of International backpack community. We need a solid plan.

Let’s keep up with the roadshows, let’s get aggressive with marketing our tourism properties while at the same time finding means to protect our natural environment. Maybe we can get presidential son Baste to endorse our Surf spots and put a spotlight in taking care of our beaches and our coral reefs.

What about harnessing voluntourism some more? Get our foreign friends to help out in poor communities.

What about professional training and certification for our local tour guides? So much can be done for tourism beyond Miss Universe.

 

  • Concrete Traffic Solutions

 

We have seen the DPWH and DOTC present their plans for the next 6 years through a presentation dubbed as Build, Build, Build, and quite frankly it is an ambitious plan.

If done right, it can really change our travel time in the long term, but while we wait for these to be completed, we would be needing more grounded policies and regulations, along with efficient enforcement of traffic laws that encourage discipline in the streets for both motorists and pedestrians. Tama na ang pasaway!  If we want to solve the traffic problem, let us first learn to follow the rules. Let us start acting like the world-class citizens that we are.

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So there you go, that’s just a few of the changes that we hold PRRD and his government accountable this 2017. We do not ask for the moon. We simply ask for practical solutions that will pave the way for greater progress.

Dear PRRD and team:

the Filipinos you serve are awake and, and they are keeping a scorecard. That being said, we do recognize that we are all in this together for the love of the country. A new dawn is rising and we are more than ready. Let’s keep at it.

 

Sincerely, your partners for change.

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