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Waiting for the new president

HOW fast time flies!

It seemed like it was only yesterday that we went to the polls and elected then Sen. Benigno Aquino III to the highest position of the land. Thanks to automated voting, we knew, at least unofficially, within two days from the closing of the polls the results of the 2010 national elections.

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Barring any major change in the voting pattern, it is likely that, with five presidential aspirants and six vice presidential candidates, the new president and vice president will be elected through plurality votes.

It would be ideal if the country’s chief executive officer were elected by a majority vote because that would show that he or she has a clear mandate to lead the country.

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Unlike in other countries, our Constitution does not provide for a run-off (or second round) election between the two presidential candidates who garnered the most number of votes when none of the candidates get the majority vote.

All the presidents who came after President Cory Aquino were elected by less than 51 percent of the votes cast. Fidel Ramos had 23.58 percent, Joseph Estrada, 39.86 percent, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 39.99 percent and President Aquino, 42.08 percent.

Whether or not President Cory Aquino won by a majority vote in the 1986 polls is difficult to ascertain because the canvassing of votes in the then Batasang Pambansa was marred by fraud and irregularities.

Developments

Between now and June 30, when the new President is sworn into office, the country’s business executives are expected to adopt a wait-and-see attitude with guarded optimism. A new President, like a New Year, means a new beginning.

They will analyze the new President’s inaugural speech and Cabinet appointments to figure out his or her plans for the country in general and, in particular, the economy.

If the Aquino administration’s candidate, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, wins the election, there is a strong possibility that, despite his admission that the administration suffered from some deficiencies, the present economic policies will remain in place.

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The same cannot be said of the other candidates who have taken sharp issue with some of the administration’s economic policies.

Although Sen. Grace Poe initially looked favorably at the accomplishments of the administration, she later became critical and declared that her program of government will be different.

But considering that many of her economic advisers are cut from the same cloth as their counterpart in the administration, there is reason to believe that the existing economic policies, except for some tweaks, will be substantially similar.

Stability

Definitely, there will be a new economic or financial ball game in case the Vice President, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago or Davao City Mayor Rodolfo Duterte is elected president.

They all repeatedly expressed displeasure with the way the administration managed (or mismanaged) the economy and the failure of the much-vaunted economic gains to find their way to the less privileged members of our society.

Among the three presidential hopefuls though, Duterte may be considered a “wild card” considering that his economic program is still a big question mark.

In his speech before the Makati Business Club, he rambled with his usual spiels on peace and order and corruption, but did not say much about his economic program.

He cracked jokes with sexual innuendos that were not only inappropriate for the occasion but hurt the sensibilities of the women who were in the audience.

And because he arrived late and many of the attendees had prior engagements, there was no opportunity for them to ask him about the other aspects of his program of government.

Worse, for business people who consider political stability and adherence to the rule of law essential to their operation, Duterte’s statements about shutting down Congress if it impeaches him, declaring a revolutionary government if he cannot have his way, and breaking diplomatic ties with two of the country’s staunchest military and economic partners do not inspire confidence and optimism that his administration is something to look forward to.

Expectations

The new president will be assuming the duties and responsibilities of the presidency under extraordinary domestic circumstances.

Climate change has made life miserable for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who depend on rainfall to nourish the crops or products that feed them and provide for other basic necessities.

With the Asean Economic Community now in place and expected to be fully operational in a couple of years, the country will have to compete toe to toe with the Asean countries for patronage of their respective products and services.

Unless the appropriate measures to make our products and services competitive are immediately implemented, we may find ourselves at the shorter end of this regional trade arrangement.

His or Her Excellency has to look after the welfare of more than 100 million Filipinos and counting, the majority of whom live below the poverty line and look to the government for their physical salvation.

Today is going to be a long day for the exercise of one of the most important rights in a democracy.

Regardless of your political affiliation or lack of it, it is your moral obligation to go out and vote for the next leaders of our country.

For comments, please send your email to “[email protected]

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