Who should be the next president?

We cannot afford to waste another six-year presidency; we need a new president who can bring us and our acts together for this nation towards real economic development. But is there someone, from the present bunch of presidentiables, who can govern well and become the good president that we need?

From the opinion of txtmania, we know about two presidential contenders who are into house-building, which should at least give them some perspective on what nation-building should be.  (You build the house to provide protection and comfort to the family.) Vice President Noli de Castro, who we heard is doing a good job as the government's housing czar, and Senator Manny Villar, a housing magnate, both own that disctinction.

But building a house is not enough to make a family. That house needs access to a stable, clean and affordable supply of water and sewerage, electricity, telephone services, Internet, cable TV, etc.  That house needs to be surrounded by roads and bridges that lead to schools, churches, offices, hospitals, restaurants, shopping malls, drug stores, gymnasium, market, etc., etc.

How can the family who live in that house afford those services?  They need a stable source of income.  Are they safe from harm?  Security must be provided in the community to maintain peace and order and enforce goods laws.

How about love and morality?  It is the responsibility of parents to watch the development of their children into responsible adults who worship and love God, and respect individuals.  But the builder of the house should set the example, so others will be inspired and follow.

Enough said.  We had to chance to hear the economic agenda of two presidentiables during a forum recently organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines at the Renaissance Hotel in Makati City.

Senator Jamby Madrigal disclosed her economic platform, which centers on the pursuit of economic policies that would favor the poor and the middle class, rather than the rich.  Madrigal, who described herself as an admirer of US economist Joseph Stiglitz, said that if elected president, she would oppose the government's globalization and liberalization polcies, which she said, have resulted in the destruction of Philippine agriculture.

She said business process outsourcing exploits the Philippines as a source of cheap labor while foreign direct investments, particularly in mining, do not contribute to the economy and employment.

During the same forum, Senator Francis Escudeo listed good governance as his top priority, if given the chance to become president. He said the best and the brightest Filipinos should be hired into government service.

Escudero also cited the need to invest in education, healthcare and infrastracture and develop tourism as an engine of growth in the countryside.

From other presidentiables, we have yet to hear, although Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, as a mayor, said, during another forum, something about the need for a politician to act more like an executive of a company managing the operations, rather than a politician as we know it in the Philippines.

Senator Mar Roxas has been spending a lot of money in television to depict his image as a kuya while Senator Richard Gordon says tourism can be an engine of economic growth.  Other possible presidential contenders, as depicted in the news, include Senator Loren Legarda, former President Joseph Estrada, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando, Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio, among others.

Economics Professor Benjamin Diokno said the next president will face tough challenges ahead, although he said the Philippine economy is now on a position to grow at an annual rate of 4.0 to 4.5 percent over the long term period, given the intrinsic characteristics of the economy.

"Nobody can claim ownership of that economic growth," he said. Diokno said the next president will face the problems of high public debt, dilapidated infrastructure system,
poor education and healthcare standards, and worsening education quality.

Among Diokno's recommendations for the next president are to diversify the country's exports, revisit the country's labor export policy and modernize agriculture.  "Government should concentrate in food manufacturing," he said.

Well, we have said it earlier, and we won't hesitate to say it again and again. The next president should at least do all of the following.  He should have a concrete strategy for employment generation that will provide jobs in urban centers and rural areas, that will boost people's income, improve productivity and enhance business activities.

The next president should have the will to act in stabilizing prices of petroleum products, electricity, commodities, and services.  The next president should defend the value of the peso against speculation and fluctuation, to the point that he will resist the pressures from overseas Filipinos and exporters.

Remember, the president's job is to strengthen the whole economy, and not serve as a recruitment officer for contract workers for overseas deployment.  The depreciation of the peso from about 25 to the US dollar in 1996 to about 50 to the greenback today is the single factor that led to the continuous diaspora of Filipino workers from their own country, period!

Don't tell us that OFWs had no jobs here, because we can tell you affront that most of them had quit their jobs here only to work elsewhere.
The next president should govern well, inspire others, and earn the trust of the people and investors, to the point that the private sector, including foreign and local businessmen, will invest here for the long-term.

The next president should be strong enough to discipline the military and the police, and limit their intervention in politics, business and freedom of the people.

He should resolve the problems of political instablity, crime, corruption, smuggling, gambling, prostitution and immorality.

The next president should know how to bring peace to Mindanao and end terrorism.  He should ensure the continuous protection of human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of faith.

He should gain public acceptance for advocating morality, discipline, good family values and faith in God.  He should ensure the cooperation of Congress and the Supreme Court in pushing for good laws that will benefit the economy, while strengthening national interest.

He should bring potable water and clean energy to all households, ensure that every family has a house of their own, make education accessible to everyone, and make medical treatment affordable if not free.

The next president should have concrete strategy in infrastructure development, to build roads, bridges, railways, dams, large solar energy generating plants, wind mills, geothermal plants, water systems, sewerage systems, water treatment facilities on every island, irrigation projects, environmentally sound residential projects, soil erosion control projects, anti-flood projects, etc., etc., etc.

The next president should make the Philippines self-sufficient in food and energy.  He should protect the environment and the country's natural heritage and wild life.

He should manage to reduce the economic and social impact of typhoons, earthquake, and volcanic eruption on the country.  He should know how to reduce occurrence of floods and soil erosion.

The next president should enforce responsible laws to protect the consumers while encouraging investments.  Finally, he should transform the Philippines into a progressive and good nation.

Any presidential candidate, who does not have a clue on each issue herein listed has no right to pursue his or her political ambition, which should be reserved for one who can finally guide the Philippines towards real economic development and good status before the international community.

God promised this to Israel, and we believe this also applies to the Philippines today.

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)  

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