Akbayan Party held a forum entitled ‘Marcos Jr: Year One — A Citizens’ Assessment on the State of the Nation’ at the University of the Philippines – Diliman in anticipation of the upcoming first State of the Nation Address of President Bongbong Marcos.
The event gathered “pro-democracy allies and leading political voices” to comprehensively assess the “real state of the nation” a year into the Marcos Jr. presidency.
Leading the roster of resource speakers was Akbayan Party Senator Risa Hontiveros, who opened the forum by giving a broad view of the country’s situation.
“Sa dami ng urgent na isyu ng taumbayan, mula inflation, education hanggang sa pambu-bully ng China sa West Philippine Sea, mukhang kuntento ang Presidente sa business-as-usual. He is wasting precious time on misplaced priorities. Sa kaka-procrastinate ng administrasyon, mukhang naghahabol na lamang ng mga accomplishments na napakababaw kumpara sa mga dapat ginawa 365 days ago,” said Hontiveros, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader.
“Time is ticking. Hindi makakabangon ang Pilipinas, kung hindi pa nakakabangon at nabubuksan ang mata ng Presidente sa totoong state of the nation, lalo na sa usapin ng korapsyon. Kung Bagong Pilipinas o Bagong Lipunan man iyan, lumang tugtugin na ang galawan ng administrasyon. He can recycle all the projects of his father all he wants, but he cannot PR the country out of its problems,” she added.
Joining her on the panel were Dr Jay Batongbacal (Director of the UP Institute of Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea), Dr Sylvia Estrada-Claudio (former dean of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development), Christian Esguerra (political journalist and host of Facts First), and Dr JC Punongbayan (Assistant Professor of the UP School of Economics).
Maritime law expert Batongbacal assessed the government’s foreign policy, especially concerning China and our ongoing struggle to solidify our claim to the West Philippine Sea as part of our national territory.
“This is an issue that transcends political parties and politicians. The Filipino nation should rally behind it as a whole,” Batongbacal said.
On the Marcos administration’s “positive” actions concerning the West Philippine Sea, Batongbacal asked, “Will this last, or will this be just for the first year?”
“Sa pagbangon natin sa ilang taon ng isolation, maraming pagkukulang. Sa social support at care work, apektado talaga ang kababaihan,” said Estrada-Claudio, in looking at the state of the nation using the lens of women.
Esguerra said that if we asked if the situation of media freedom and discourse is better now in the Marcos Jr. administration, “the answer would be yes and no. Yes, because the previous administration set the bar shallow, and no, because the fear remains.”
Punongbayan discussed the current situation of the Philippine economy and zeroed in on the Maharlika Investment Fund.
“Tulad ng sinabi ni Senator Risa [Hontiveros], maraming maling priorities si Presidente Marcos katulad ng Maharlika Investment Fund na pipirmahan bukas. Higit isang daang bilyong piso ang kukunin sa Landbank. Paano na makakapagpautang ang mga bangko sa ating agricultural stakeholders kagaya ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda kung malaking parte ng kanilang kapital ay kukunin ng Maharlika?” he said.
This forum was organized by Akbayan Party to “serve as a guide for citizens and advocates in charting a clearer path in the fight for democracy, social justice, and human rights under the Marcos Jr. administration.”
“Kami sa position, kasama ang aking parting Akbayan, we continue to sound the alarm on these issues precisely because the cost the everyday Filipino is paying is too high. Kailangan bigyan ng matinding pansin ang mga ito. I call on the public to come together, to keep demanding that the administration act in alignment with our needs, and to make sure the next five years are not wasted as they have been this past year,” Hontiveros ended.