After the elections

PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

By the time you read this, it would be the day after E-day. The voters would have fulfilled their duty and chosen their candidates. Between now as I write this and then, exactly a week would have lapsed. The mitings de avance haven’t taken place yet. The last-minute frenzied campaigning in “must win” areas are ongoing. So far, it’s been a peaceful campaign, except in cyberspace where fake news, calumny, and uncivil behavior abound. I hope and pray that the overzealous don’t spill blood before, during, and after E-day.

The worrisome time is after the counting. There’s been so much talk about violence, that the losing candidate/s will cry foul and rampage. That’s because the political environment is so poisoned and corrupted that nothing is believable. We steadily slid to reach this abysmal point. Everything’s under suspicion: the vetting process, the candidates, the surveys, the news, the printed ballot, the distribution of ballots, the voting, and the count. Worse, speculating over a violent outcome is enough to place investments on hold and shift capital to safe havens.

Who will emerge victorious? The surveys have consistently shown that presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his vice-presidential running mate Sara Duterte are the clear leaders. A distant second is the incumbent Vice-President Leni Robredo and her running mate former Senator Kiko Pangilinan. But lately, there has been a counterpoint to the local surveys — Google Trends (GT) — which is touted to be an accurate predictor of political outcomes in various parts of the world since 2004. GT points to a Robredo-Pangilinan vote outcome. Who to believe?

In our obviously polarized, color- and meme-dominated political environment, the partisans of these top two pairs of contenders are being watched closely. Whichever way the needle points, the persistent belief is that supporters of the losing side won’t have it; that violent protests would erupt. Additionally, if the violence gets out of hand, proponents of “RevGov” — basically the rabid supporters of the incumbent administration — would step in with the AFP and PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police) in tow, restore order, and extend their stay indefinitely. Maybe, maybe not.

The Filipino people wield ultimate power exercised through the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. It’s in that context that I scrutinized the personal character and record, vision, priorities, capabilities, personality, preparedness, readiness, and potential for greatness. It’s borne out of duty and responsibility to choose the best one who can be relied upon to uphold and advance our national interests. After six months of observation and assessment, it turned out that the best man was a woman. So, may the best woman win!

In any case, here’s the painful truth and harsh reality: whoever wins the top posts of the land will inherit all the rising external risks, internal crises, and accumulated burdens of the country. Selecting the right mix of Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet team members based on merit, instead of political payback, is essential to their success. They must hit the ground running as soon as they’re declared winners of the 2022 elections. The transition period will be crucial in ensuring a proper handover of the records or paper trail for seamless continuity of public governance.

The rising external risks are: inflation, food and energy supply contraction due to the pandemic, extreme weather, supply chain disruptions, and recessionary pressures amid great power competition in strategic areas of the world. Internal crises could be political instability, the resurgence of violent armed groups, organized crime in the private and public sectors, and rising street crime. The country’s accumulated burdens or inter-generational problems begging for attention and resolution are poverty, injustice, corruption, exclusion, and division.

There’s this viewpoint though that the outcome of our elections is being keenly watched by the great and middle powers in the region, particularly ASEAN, the USA, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The Philippines is strategically located. So, the belief is that whoever is most influential will have the upper hand in projecting power throughout the Indo-Pacific region. All eyes are on the USA and China, with imaginations running wild as to who would have the better “inside track” on our electoral system to obtain a favorable result. Who knows?

This much I know — there’s much to do in the years ahead just to survive. The quality of our governance and citizenship must be our main agenda. I foresee big trouble requiring us all to unite and focus on a common purpose to protect our national interest, and to look after each other. Perhaps the coming storm will be compelling enough to move us from division to unity, apathy to empathy, self-interest to the common good, pettiness to worthiness. Just like young soldiers in their teens who are thrust into battle and emerge from it as men and women.

Whoever takes over must be risk and crisis management conscious, and organize the teams accordingly to address inherited problems, deal with emerging risks and crises, and pursue its vision and mission. The new administration will need to form multi-disciplinary teams to apply diverse solutions aimed at lifting the nation from its knees. Enough of incompetent political “solutions” for every business, technological, technical, cultural, and social issues confronting us. Enough of that silly posturing as if we’re on top of the situation and know what we’re doing. No mas! (No more!)

The new administration will need an army of implementors backed by a Legislature that will remove, amend, or pass new laws to facilitate the implementation of the Executive’s initiatives to clean house, reorganize, deliver services, and transform mindsets. The years ahead won’t just be about the incoming administration. It will be about us — our preparedness and readiness to face any risk and survive any crisis coming our way in these perilous times, to perform selflessly and emerge from it transformed for the better. We must, for the sake of future generations.

That’s my hope and prayer from this day forward.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.

Rafael “Raffy” M. Alunan III is a former governor of the MAP. He is the chair of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations, vice-chair of Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc., and sits on the boards of other companies as an independent director.

map@map.org.ph

rmalunan@gmail.com

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