The First Hundred

As the first 100 days of the new administration rolls by, citizens of the Philippines watch their President struggle with natural catastrophes, the aftermath of a bungled hostage crisis and some not so major but equally distressing miscues from his chosen appointees. To top it off, PNoy has to act as referee in the midst of petty squabbling from within his highly fractured cabinet. Small wonder that one senses in him an almost dogged determination to hold on to friends.

One hundred days and it’s very hard to point to any ground breaking government initiative which will bring about meaningful change or even a single clear policy that will realize the LP campaign promises in a concrete manner.

I look at the first 100 days and I see wasted opportunity.

Of his greatest mandate to fight corruption and initiate reform in government? I see a Truth Commission stopped dead in its tracks, an inability to disturb the status quo across all agencies and the same old payolas clogging up the bureaucracy. I suppose one should be thankful enough for “wang-wang” free streets.

Fiscal reform? Instead of spending his immense political capital to change fundamentally flawed budgetary policies,   I see the tax chief instead trying to justify a painful tax on a toll road.

Hacienda Luisita?  Please.

There are some bright spots to be sure. For one, the economy seems to be moving in the right direction (up not down). But whether this is real or attributable to something PNoy has done however is something else entirely.

The overarching strategy appears to hinge on the promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (or PPPs).  Other than the fact that this is by no means an innovation, infrastructure development by itself is not a recipe for bringing the country out of  its status as the perennial bridesmaid of Southeast Asia into the club of the sought after.  There are tough choices to be made regarding population control, balancing the budget, peace and order plus of course, the manner and degree of aggressiveness in fighting corruption.   Hard decisions require deft political handling and large political capital. While there is still hope, the President has to make these choices soon before his coin runs out.

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