POSTSCRIPT / July 1, 2004 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Use GMA's 10-point agenda to monitor her

PROMISSORY NOTE: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo listed in her inaugural speech yesterday the basic items that, she promised, she would deliver to the Filipino people during her six years in office.

The least we can do as a partner in nation-building is examine her promissory note. We can then either dismiss it as a bunch of empty promises or heed her plea for cooperation so she could deliver for the common good.

For the record, let us review her 10-point to-do list taken verbatim from her speech. It won’t take one minute reading it:

“When I step down six years from now, this will be my 10-point legacy.

“I shall have created more than six million jobs, perhaps, even 10 million jobs. Mahigit anim na milyong trabaho, kung maaari sampung milyong trabaho.

“I shall have supported three million entrepreneurs by giving them loans and helping them become good managers. That way, we shall be establishing a deep foundation for a broad middle class.

“I shall have developed one million hectares, if possible two million of agribusiness land by making them productive and transporting their products to the markets efficiently.

“Everyone of school age will be in school in an uncrowded classroom, in surroundings conducive to learning. Hangad kong makapasok sa eskuwela ang bawat bata. Mayroong sapat na lugar sa silid-aralan at may computer sa bawat aralan .

“I shall have balanced the budget by collecting the right revenues and spending on the right things.

“The network of transport and digital infrastructure on which my government embarked in the last three years will have linked the entire country.

“Power and water will be regularly provided to all barangays.Kuryente at tubig para sa lahat ng barangay.

“Metro Manila will be decongested with economic activity growing and spreading to new centers of government business and community in Luzon, in the Visayas and in Mindanao. The Subic-Clark corridor will be the most competitive international service and logistic center in the Southeast Asian Region.

“Elections will no longer raise a single doubt about their integrity. The electoral process will be completely computerized. Tama na ang manu-manong pagsusuma ng boto .

“And long before that, peace will have come to Mindanao. All insurgence shall have turned their swords into plowshares. They will have become so absorbed into one society that the struggles of the past will be just a stuff of legend. The divisive issues generated by EDSA I, II and III will also be just memories shared by friends from every side in those upheavals. Only the lessons of unity, courage and a just closure left alive in their hearts. Dapat wakasan na sa makatarungang paraan ang hidwaang bunsod ng EDSA I, II at III.

* * *

GIVE HER A CHANCE: We expect the President to elaborate on her 10-point agenda as she and her Cabinet resume their work.

There are those who might dismiss her agenda outright without offering any viable alternative. But we think the better course is to give her a chance, while keeping a close watch on how she goes about doing it.

We cannot dismiss it outright as headed for sure failure on the basis alone of her performance in the last three years of borrowed time. The next six years of her own term are an entirely different time frame.

The main reasons for the turbulence of the past three years were that (1) the forces displaced when she took over from former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in January 2001 never forgave her for what they believed was a usurpation of the presidency, and (2) she rose to power without a ready coalition to fast-track an interim short-term program.

* * *

HEAL THE WOUNDS: Those who are patriots deep in their hearts, and we think they are the overwhelming majority, cannot but heed the direct plea of the President for a coming together to heal the wounds of political combat and move on.

“I offer my hand and I hope it will be taken with the same faith,” she said. “Unity is not measured by how many political parties are able to achieve the accommodation of narrow self-interest, rather it is achieved by the harmony of the sincere convictions based on our agreement on the basic requirements for achieving the national good.”

She named directly those who lost in the May 10 presidential elections, banking on what she noted was “the tenacity with which we cling to whatever we believe in.”

“The last election clearly saw this fighting Filipino spirit at its best,” she said. “Roco, Lacson, Villanueva or Poe all fought with conviction.”

“If only we could now fight together with the same energy and conviction to preserve our freedoms and advance our nation’s progress,” she said. “We know now what we can do when we set our minds to it.”

“Can we not work together to rally the nation behind the paramount objective of its salvation?,” she pleaded.

* * *

NOW OR NEVER: As we see it, our best bet is not with the scattered stragglers of the opposition who lost badly in the elections, but with a President who has just been given a fresh mandate to lead this country out of the desert.

It will not be the blind leading the blind. Unlike some pretenders to the presidency, Ms Arroyo did not just show up in the horizon one heady day to announce a bid for the highest position in the land.

She has gone through the mandatory route and is obviously equipped for the tough job.

Besides, unlike the last three years when she had to fend off obstructionists, this time around she has the benefit of a clear mandate, a working majority in both chambers of Congress, and a relief from the distraction of having to keep one eye on reelection.

To this accomplished daughter of a former president who needs nothing else but a respected and honorable niche in Philippine political history, it is now or never. This point alone gives us enough reason to give her the benefit of the doubt.

* * *

HELD HOSTAGE: It is easy for us to just lean back and watch how the Arroyo administration reels out. Indeed, why should it be our concern that she makes good or not, or that the dark forces plotting against her succeed or not?

We sound supportive at the risk of having some readers accuse us of being a partisan or a paid propagandist. But that does not bother us at all, because it is not true anyway.

Our concern is not for Ms Arroyo, but for the presidency and the country. At this point, we are held hostage by the fact that she is the only President we have.

Our situation has so deteriorated that any more false move would mean total collapse of the system. As they say, we swim or sink together.

But, mark this, we will be wide awake like the rest monitoring how Ms Arroyo goes about making good her promised delivery of the 10 items on her agenda. And we might presume to make suggestions now and then.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 1, 2004)

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