MANILA, Philippines — With President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s nearing his 100th day in office, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the country is treading the right path, but ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro countered this and instead called on the administration to go opposite its current direction.
Romualdez on Thursday praised his cousin Marcos for maneuvering the country toward economic growth and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Philippines is right on track, and is sprinting steadily during the first 100 days of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Our economy has bounced back from the ravages brought by the global pandemic, and has already reached the first stage to full recovery,” Romualdez said in a statement.
He then attributed these to the “President’s prudent choice of the best economic team and the meticulous crafting of the Medium Term Fiscal Framework to serve as the roadmap to steer the country back to its high-growth trajectory.”
Romualdez likewise lauded the President’s foreign policy of being a “friend to all, enemy to none.”
He cited Marcos’ string of bilateral talks with international leaders, including United States President Joe Biden, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and more recently, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – who Marcos spoke to during his heavily criticized weekend trip to the city-state for the F1 Grand Prix.
“The future indeed looks brighter under the Marcos administration. Businesses are now ramping up activity, new jobs are created and lost jobs are restored, and economic activities have turned dynamic once again,” Romualdez claimed.
But he recognized that there are existing challenges that still need to be addressed like continuously empowering businesses, providing more jobs, and maintaining low prices of commodities.
“We can only hope to build a stronger nation resilient enough to withstand the shocks of external crises if we remain united and work together for the common good,” he said.
Urged to turn the opposite way
Castro, however, called on the Marcos administration to reverse its current direction as she criticized the “dismal situation” the country is currently in.
“Sa totoo lang, parang may déjà vu ang Marcos Jr. administration sa nakaraang administrasyon ni Duterte. Napakaraming pinangako pero wala pa ding natutupad. Isa na rito ang pagtataas ng sahod ng mga guro,” she said in a separate statement.
(To be honest, Marcos Jr.’s administration gives a sense of déjà vu as it reminds us of the Duterte administration. There were so many promises that were not fulfilled, and one of these is the salary hike for teachers.)
Castro also pointed out the harassment and killings that continue to hang over critics of the administration.
“It does not matter if you are an opposition official, media, activist or an ordinary person wanting the government to hear your redress, you will either be red-tagged, jailed on trumped-up charges or worst, killed like the case of radio commentator Percy Mabasa,” she argued.
Also citing Marcos’ controversial trip to Singapore over the F1 race weekend, Castro questioned the President’s priorities which, she said, favors rich foreign investors, and sets aside the country’s poor and suffering communities.
The opposition lawmaker similarly sounded the alarm on the administrations’ leading concerns based on the proposed 2023 national budget, again raising her concerns over the hefty confidential and intelligence funds lodged under the offices of the President and the Vice President.
Among other issues Castro pressed on the administration to look into were the power rate hikes, high inflation rate, low wages of workers, surge in prices of goods, shortfall in job opportunities, and lack of land ownership for farmers.
“What he should do is reverse all that he is doing today, and we might see some hope yet,” she stressed.
Marcos earlier boasted about him being able to put together a “functional” government with “the best and the brightest” during his first 100 days.
Notably, however, his Cabinet remains incomplete with empty seats for the Health Secretary, Commission on Audit chairperson, and Press Secretary, among others.