While the first 100 days of an administration is often seen as a “honeymoon” period for the president and their constituents to gauge each other, the head of state has already found himself in hot water in such a short period.
First popularized in modern society by former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his performance as head of state during the Great Depression, a president’s first 100 days found significance in Philippine governance during former President Corazon Aquino’s administration. Succeeding presidents followed the tradition through official reports, speeches, and town hall-style meetings, but President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. left Filipinos without an official 100-day report. According to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Marcos Jr. was “ambivalent” about releasing a report. “Walang pamantayan kung bakit mo kailangan na mag-report [para sa] first 100 days or not,” Bersamin said, quoting Marcos Jr.
(There is no basis for whether you should release a report on your first 100 days.)
Although Marcos Jr. made up for this by releasing two video blogs (vlogs) on his YouTube channel to show the accomplishments of his first 100 days, criticisms were batted on how he undermined the country’s major problems and failed to give a more felt administration.
‘A principal worry’
How Marcos Jr. spent his first 100 days has drawn flak for setting a nonchalant, lavish tone to his administration with his series of Malacañang parties for himself, his mother, and his wife. His performance at Senator Angara’s birthday party continues to build on his case of leisurely living. Questions further intensified when the internet found him leisurely watching a Formula One (F1) Grand Prix in Singapore with his family in what was supposed to be a presidential trip, and when his New York travel vlog was released in the midst of Typhoon Karding’s onslaught.
This should come as no surprise. Marcos Jr. grew up a “principal worry” for his own father because of his “carefree and lazy” attitude, as written by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in his own journals.
Ruthie* (II, LIT-CW) is among the students and citizens concerned about Marcos Jr.’s absence during calamities. “He’s not showing up a lot. He was not there when the typhoons hit our community; [a lot of people] remain struggling to recover.”
Meanwhile, students from other universities Boc* and Matte* slam Marcos Jr.’s lavish lifestyle. “To be straightforward, I saw nothing but parties and leisure activities [such as] attendance during sports events, [which were] branded as official meetings for potential investors. [I’m] not really sure if I could trust what Malacañang states at this point.” Boc explains. Matte called Marcos Jr. “self-centered” for displaying opulence amid the country’s hardships. They compared Marcos Jr.’s leadership to the “lakads before acads”, or leisure before studies, mindset of students.
On the other hand, Department of Political Science and Development Studies Professional Lecturer Gerardo Eusebio elaborates that there is “nothing wrong” with a president watching an F1 race but acknowledged how this has taken people aback, especially since his intentions in the trip were unclear. “There’s nothing really wrong with [Marcos Jr.] choosing his means of enjoyment…but his choice was not taken well, especially [since] we are suffering under inflation [and] mahirap ang buhay.”
Marcos Jr. himself, however, thinks that his “adjustment period” was well-handled. “May nagsasabi na itong first 100 days daw ang honeymoon period, parang nangangapa pa, pero parang hindi naman ganoon ang aking pakiramdam,” Marcos Jr. asserted in a vlog.
(Some say that the first 100 days is a honeymoon period where the president is still adjusting, but I don’t seem to feel that way.)
He prided on establishing a “functional government” with his appointments. “Ang [maituturing] kong malaking tagumpay ng ating panunungkulan sa unang 100 araw ay ang pagbibigay ng malinaw na direksyon at layunin sa lahat ng ating ahensya ng pamahalaan at sambayanang Pilipino,” Marcos Jr. said.
(What I consider as a great success in my first 100 days was giving a clear direction and purpose to all the government agencies and to the Filipino masses.)
But, Marcos Jr. is yet to fill in Cabinet seats and officialize multiple officer-in-charge appointments.
His appointees have also been a point of criticism. “I believe he should [have chosen] credible and experienced individuals for our departments,” says high schooler Lea* (Grade 11, HUMSS), who brought up the appointment of a former police chief as a health department officer, referring to Camilo Cascolan’s designation as undersecretary of the Department of Health.
Despite finding the “best people” for his economic team, Marcos Jr. still received poor ratings on a Pulse Asia survey for his economic response in his first 100 days. This comes amid soaring prices of goods and a weakening peso, which in October crashed at P59 against the dollar for the first time in the nation’s history.
Linda*, a resident of the so-called “Solid North” who voted for Marcos Jr. in the May polls, has also been feeling “in doubt” of the president’s capability to face the nation’s economic woes.
“I don’t know if he has well-established economic policies that can improve our country’s business conditions and generate jobs…I can say that his administration lacks [the] willpower to overcome barriers to succeed and sincere concern for those belonging [within and below] the poverty line,” she shares.
The president also believes that he had “put out fires”, especially as concurrent secretary of agriculture. Marcos Jr. had released a year-long moratorium on land amortization payments of agrarian reform beneficiaries and vowed to lessen importation by boosting local food production.
This vow was immediately tested with a sugar shortage, forcing the president to approve the importation of no more than 150,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar, after the “illegal” signing by former Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian of a Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) resolution that permitted importing up to 300,000 MT of sugar.
The issue, a result of poor communication across the agriculture department’s units, led to a shakedown in the SRA, with Sebastian, Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, and Board Member Roland Beltran vacating their posts.
For the better
Amid Marcos Jr.’s dismal first 100 days, Linda remains hopeful that the administration lives by its cry for: unity. “For now, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I am keeping my fingers crossed that sama-sama tayong babangon muli.”
(We will rise united.)
Contrastingly, Lea laments that a lot of moments in the first 100 days of the administration, such as lack of concern and response in disasters, have defined Marcos Jr.’s brand of leadership. “It defeats the agreement that maybe we should give him a chance because he really does not have the urge to prove himself to the people,” she stresses.
This is why Eusebio finds it important that Marcos Jr. shows substantial change the soonest. “Although it’s still a bit early to expect much…soon it will [already] be important to deliver. I haven’t seen anything really concrete come out of this administration. I surely am hoping that things will turn around for the better, at least by the start of 2023.”
*Names in asterisks are pseudonyms.