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TURNING POINT: First 100 Days: The State of the Nation is Sound

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 12 Oct) – The press and concerned citizens are agog over the first 100 days in office of the new president of a nation. What is so important about it?

Political observers in the US opine that the performance of the president during that period is a show window of what and how he would deliver the rest of his term.

The concept of first 100 days was begun by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt who led the US out of the Great Depression – the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939 that began with the stock market crash of October 1929, that sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions in investments. A huge chunk of the populace lost their jobs and their homes thereupon.

Upon assuming office in 1933, Roosevelt, who was an excellent communicator, tapped the radio in directly sharing with the American public his views on the economic nightmare and his vision and program to overcome it. He launched the New Deal to “restore prosperity to the Americans.”

His breathtaking scope of bold and new actions, both legislative and regulatory, altered the climate of despair and despondency that enveloped the US. To name but a few: in those 100 days he declared a bank holiday which stopped the disastrous run on the banks, he took America off the gold standard, and he passed groundbreaking legislation for farmers and homeowners and for the unemployed. He also passed amendments to the hated Volstead Act which had created prohibition. Accordingly, “beer parties” were held immediately all over the country in celebration.

A president’s first 100 days is by no means the definitive judgment on his administration, but as already said his performance in this period may yet give us a hint of what would come the rest of his term. The glowing legacy of Roosevelt has sustained the interest of the press in the “first 100 days” and so does the citizenry. It has become a tradition to look forward.

Our press being a US copycat, has adopted the tradition.

When President Bongbong Marcos assumed office on June 30, 2022, he was in a similar predicament with President Roosevelt. The country’s economy has been badly battered and crippled by the pandemic and the nightmarish spike in the price of fossil fuel to the present. Millions are without livelihood and source of incomes, while the cost of basic commodities has spiraled sky-high beyond the reach of many.

The opportunity for greatness was there for PBBM’s picking. He unfortunately squandered the golden opportunity in his first 100 days.

He has control or support of Congress, yet he has not caused the crafting of urgent legislative and regulatory measures to address the economic woes.

He exerted no telling effort to immediately create jobs. The creation of jobs has remained like a campaign promise – they are to come with the arrival of foreign investors PBBM has accordingly hooked in his foreign trips.

He did nothing but simply shrugged off the fuel price hike like it is an inevitable natural catastrophe, not minding that he could temporarily suspend the excise tax and the e-vat to lessen the impact of the fuel anomaly on the consumers.

PBBM is unmindful. If the fuel hike remains uncontrolled, many medium and small scale industries will close shop, the prices of essential commodities will further rise and more and more people would be jobless and more families will grow hungry.

So what characterizes PBBM’s first 100 days that may indicate how the ship of state would navigate the troubled waters until 2028?

More glaring is the corruptible but fortunately aborted move to import 300,000 MT of sugar, an administrative blunder occurring in the very agency that he micromanages as its secretary.

More disturbing is the domestic chaos in the palace household that ended in the removal of the executive secretary, press secretary and the chairman of the Commission on Audit.

More insightful is what PBBM in the very first day of his first 100 days in office declared:

“I know this in my mind, I know it in my heart, I know it in my very soul … THE STATE OF THE NATION IS SOUND.”

Beware, the captain of our ship is blind and…

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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