‘Bagong Pilipinas’ rally turns into pep talk to gov't workers | Inquirer News

‘Bagong Pilipinas’ rally turns into pep talk to gov’t workers

ATTENDANCE President Marcos arrives on Sunday evening at the “Bagong Pilipinas” kick-off rally launching his administration’s governance brand. Vice President Sara Duterte (above, left) had arrived earlier and joined the huge crowd before flying to her hometown of Davao City to join a smaller gathering there against Charter change. —PHOTOS BY GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

ATTENDANCE | President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. arrives on Sunday evening, Jan. 28, 2024, at the “Bagong Pilipinas” kick-off rally launching his administration’s governance brand. Vice President Sara Duterte (above, left) had arrived earlier and joined the massive crowd before flying to her hometown of Davao City to join a smaller gathering against Charter change. (Photos by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday called on all government workers to steer the country toward a “Bagong Pilipinas” (New Philippines) and provide the Filipino people with “responsive, efficient” service.

Speaking during the kick-off rally for his governance brand, held at Quirino Grandstand in Manila, Marcos also urged Filipinos to rekindle their hopes to aim for a better country, as he dismissed speculations the program was “a political vehicle meant to cater to the interest of a few.”


With “Bagong Pilipinas,” the bureaucracy should undertake reforms to restore public trust in government.


“We cannot always shift the blame on the people who have been repeatedly given promises but were always left unfulfilled. We cannot lay the blame on the masses who have been let down so many times,” he said.

The President also shot down rumors that “Bagong Pilipinas” would be part of a new political machinery, saying it was not “a political game plan that caters to a privileged few” but “a master plan for genuine development that benefits all our people.”

“Bagong Pilipinas is not a new partisan coalition in disguise. It is a set of ideals that all [of] us Filipinos, regardless of political creed or religion or wealth, can coalesce around,” he said. “Bagong Pilipinas serves no narrow political interest. It serves the people.”

‘Stern directive’

Marcos took the occasion to issue a “stern directive” to government workers, he said, starting with a ban on the lazy and slow.

“Services must be fast, projects must be completed on time. Deadlines must be met per schedule, distress calls must be responded to without delay,” he said.

Government offices, he added, should replace “red tape with red carpet (treatment)” while the government must no longer allow the dishonest and corrupt.


“Any preparation [for government projects], especially those involving the use of the town’s resources, must be open to the public and not hidden, with no part of it stolen,” the President said.

With “Bagong Pilipinas,” the government will also undertake reforms in education and food security, he told his audience.

“The gist of which is this: A learner with books on their table, a well-trained, highly motivated, well-paid teacher in front of them, teaching a curriculum carefully curated to our needs, under a setting wired to the digital world,” Marcos said, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

With the looming threat of the El Niño dry spell, “we are incentivizing urban gardening, including turning idle lands into vegetable plots,” the President said.

“We will not tolerate smuggled food that impoverishes our domestic producers and puts our consumers at risk,” he added.

VP stops by

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte was absent during Marcos’s speech. According to her staff, she flew to Davao City to attend a rally against Charter change organized by supporters of her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, who arrived there late Sunday night.

The vice president appeared earlier at the Bagong Pilipinas rally at around 4 p.m. She took the stage to greet the audience, particularly her colleagues at the Department of Education.

“The Department of Education is one with all government agencies for a New Philippines.” she said, adding that “The Department of Education’s contribution is with the poverty alleviation sector, and we mold our youth and students to be firm.”

As of 4 p.m., two hours before Marcos was scheduled to arrive, the police estimated the number of attendees at 100,000.

By 6 p.m., the crowd was estimated at around 400,000 by the Manila Police District, compared to the Philippine National Police’s more conservative 250,000.

‘Required’ to attend

Many of those interviewed by the Inquirer said they were there voluntarily because they supported the President. Others, however, did not know why they were there in the first place.

Hours before the entrance to the venue opened at 11 a.m., scores of buses and vehicles with markings like the name of a government agency or local government unit — some bearing red government plates — were spotted dropping off attendees near Quirino Grandstand. Big tarpaulins bearing the barangay, city, and municipality where they came from were displayed in front of some of the vehicles.

The Inquirer also spotted three buses from the Office of the President (OP). One bus driver said the passengers were all OP employees.

Many attendees were barangay personnel, mostly in white shirts bearing their positions or affiliation — SK (Sangguniang Kabataan), kagawad (councilor), and barangay logo.

A barangay official from Laguna province who refused to be named for fear of reprisal told the Inquirer their group was there because their mayor told them in a meeting that they were “required” to attend.

The mayor, the official said, cited the Jan. 19 memorandum of Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos “strongly encouraging” local government units in the National Capital Region, and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, and Pampanga, and the cities of Angeles and Olongapo to attend the launching of Bagong Pilipinas.

‘No handout’

RJ Ronald Solano, SK chair of Barangay Malabo-Kaluntukan in Liliw, Laguna, said he left home at 6:30 a.m. and was on the road for more than three hours to reach Manila.

“The travel is worth it because we will be able to hear the message of President Marcos for Bagong Pilipinas,” he said.

The Inquirer, however, overheard some people grumbling, “Wala namang ayuda (There’s no handout),” as they made their way out of the grandstand.

The attendees each received a numbered stub at the entrance of Quirino Grandstand, which could be exchanged for giveaways. These included calendars and other trinkets featuring the first family, T-shirts, caps, ballers sporting the Bagong Pilipinas logo, and snacks (burger or cheesecake and a bottle of water).

By noon, those lined up at the giveaway and food booths were dismayed to find nothing left but tote bags.

FULL FORCE Government employees representing their various agencies, including members of the Philippine Coast Guard, join the Luneta crowd. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDRE

FULL FORCE | Government employees representing their various agencies, including members of the Philippine Coast Guard, join the Luneta crowd. (Photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDRE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

At around 2 p.m., the lines outside the event area were still long, but many had left after getting freebies from the organizers.

“I’ll go home; I’ve signed the attendance sheet already,” a man wearing an SK shirt was overheard telling his companions.

At a nearby fast food restaurant, a group of councilors from Caloocan who asked not to be identified said they came as early as 9 a.m. and wanted to go home as they had already signed the attendance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

They added that they were not interested in the President’s speech, which was supposed to be the highlight of the rally.

‘For BBM, not for VP’

Josephine Villa, 62, was proud to say she went to the event using her own money “and not expecting anything in return, but to hear President Marcos’ platforms.”

Unlike most attendees, Villa and her senior citizen friends from Quezon City, who are members of One Movement, traveled for hours to get to Manila, riding in jeeps and trains before walking for 20 minutes to get to the venue.

“I really don’t know the reason for the event, but they said President Marcos will give his position on Charter change in the event,” Villa said.

She said the signature campaign for a people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution had already reached them. “But I did not sign it even if they said P2,000 would be given to each one who would sign the petition.”

“I am against foreigners owning our businesses. I do not like being told by foreigners what to do in our own country,” she said.

She was also aware of the political bickering between the camps of Marcos and Duterte, which she admitted had been a polarizing issue in their group.

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“But whatever happens, my support is for BBM, not for VP Sara,” Villa, a native of Mati City, Davao del Norte, said. “He is doing good at his job as the President. He needs to be supported by us.”

TAGS: Bagong Pilipinas rally, labor sector

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