Waiting for the next president | Inquirer Business
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Waiting for the next president

The countdown for the last 100 days of the Duterte administration will start tomorrow.

How fast time flies. It is as if 2016 was just yesterday when President Duterte came to power and now the clock is ticking on his term of office.

His campaign promises to, among others, end the illegal drugs problem of the country in six months’ time and eradicate corruption in the government moved 39 percent of Filipino voters into electing him to the highest political post of the land.


But later he said he could not meet his self-imposed deadline and that it would take years for that problem to be solved. With regard to corruption, the jury is still out on whether the bureaucracy he will leave behind is any better than when he took over.


And don’t forget his vow to clear the traffic congestion in Edsa within the first 100 days of his administration.

Well, all the sound and fury about making travel in that highway a breeze turned out to be hot air only. But in fairness (tongue in cheek), that objective was accomplished in 2020 when Metro Manila was placed under extreme community quarantine.

Unlike his predecessors, President Duterte has not, to date, anointed his possible successor and the political party that helped propel him to the presidency has no presidential candidate to rally around.

As the administration enters the “last two minutes,” it’s crunch time for political appointees, or government personnel whose stay in office is coterminous to that of the appointing power.

They have to start looking for alternative employment or, if that is not feasible, curry the favor of potential winners in the May elections who can give them a new lease in life in government.

Many of them, though, have managed to wangle appointments to significant government positions before the election ban on appointments took effect last month. Some people are smarter than others.


Forty seven days from now, the Filipino people will elect a new president, vice president and national and local officials. The coming political exercise is the only instance when the rich and the poor stand on the same footing, i.e., their votes have equal weight.

Meantime, it’s all quiet in the business front. Most business executives are keeping close to their chest their choice for president. They have refrained from saying or doing anything that may be construed, one way or the other, as an endorsement or criticism of any presidential aspirant.

This silence is borne out of past experience. It is common knowledge that businesses that bet on the wrong horse in a presidential race often find themselves in the dog house after the elections or at the receiving end of a vengeful president.

Although some business tycoons present an image of neutrality, on the side, for future-proofing purposes, they discreetly make financial or “in kind” contributions to presidential candidates who have good chances of winning.

And they make sure the amount or level of their contribution is kept in strictest secrecy lest they create pangs of jealousy from candidates who feel they were not given a most-favored treatment.

In past elections before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was common practice for company bigwigs to go abroad at least a month before the elections to avoid being visited by candidates who solicit contributions.

However, considering the uncertainty of the times over COVID-19 (has it really gone down to endemic status?), it is doubtful if they would avail of that strategy this year.

Except for occasional announcements about future plans, the business community seems to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude on the coming polls. Among the questions in the air are: Will the next president be business-friendly? What are the chances of cronyism rearing its ugly head again? How will the new president put the economy on even keel in light of trillions of pesos in national debt and high unemployment?

Let the countdown begin as we keep our fingers crossed that after 100 days a competent and trustworthy leader will be voted to the presidency. INQ

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TAGS: Business, Duterte Administration, Philippines

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