President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, July 25. As Marcos Jr is a predecessor of a term that left a bloody legacy of impunity and trillions of debt, none of these were addressed in his SONA.
Marcos Jr and his plans to regain and raise the country’s economy cannot confront the deeply-rooted problems of corruption, climate crisis, human rights and injustice. During the campaign period, these are the same issues that people are most concerned about whether where the presidentiables stand on these and their platforms aligned to it, but Marcos Jr. was always a no-show to forums and debates. Up until now, he has remained silent and fleeting from responsibility and accountability.
One example of this is the way in which he overlooked the development of the nation’s agricultural industry and the state of its natural resources. He took a courageous stance and politely announced that one of his goals is to improve our agricultural production by bolstering the value chain, starting with the farmers and working its way up to the consumers.
But how is it possible for him to actually accomplish this when our peasantry is marginalized and is greeted with violence anytime they protest against the system that renders them poor, much like what happened in the case of Tinang 93? Peasant advocates and others like them face criminal charges just for cultivating the lands that are supposed to benefit the masses. His populist language is also evident in his disregard for environmental defenders who have worked tirelessly for decades to protect our forests and ecosystems while laying his plans out in addressing the climate crisis.
It must also be highlighted that while he presented economic policies in response to the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, he clearly excluded the accountability for the thousands of lives lost during the war on drugs, the protection for human rights and anti-corruption programs. He missed concrete agendas and prioritization for peace and order, and law enforcement which are core of good governance.
Having no words at all with these issues is a threat to the continuity of a tyrannical administration.
The Duterte administration ended with a failed obligation to protect human rights whereas Marcos Jr began with negligence of it amid the numerous recent attacks and red-tagging of activists, peasants, and journalists under his term. Indeed, the pursuit for open and safe democratic spaces remains elusive.
If Marcos Jr will not order to stop the war on drugs; fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the report of extrajudicial killings; be steadfast in defending press freedom; transparent in the utilization of government funds, then, the next six years will be a reminiscent of Duterte administration and even the Martial Law years.
Marcos Jr must cater to the best interest of the Filipino people not by words but with legitimate actions.
It is imperative that he will be prepared to face the same fate as his father if his goal is to clear his family reputation and proliferate corruption rather than to put the well-being of his country first. Thus, if we want to avoid falling victim to political avarice again, we must stand up to all forms of tyranny and keep an eye on the president who, as he claims, was chosen by the majority.