Our hardworking career Ambassador to the US Willy Gaa probably said it best for most Filipinos (including those abroad) in his statement: "Democracy was the biggest winner in the automated polls. My candidate and the candidate of all Filipinos - Democracy - won Monday's general elections. The country's first fully automated elections was generally successful. All Filipinos can be proud of that," (Philippine Star, May 12).
Addressing international issues within the first 100 days
The above comments of a ranking, experienced public servant who has long dealt with the problems of overseas Filipinos like Ambassador Gaa (who was also our man-on-the-spot in Libya in 1994 during the on-going GRP-MNLF peace process) underscores the international problems that President-elect Aquino III must tackle with vision and decisiveness. Our external interests have at least five interrelated aspects to be addressed without further backsliding, even as domestic concerns continue to dominate the attention of new leaders. In a real sense, the following components of our foreign policy impact with equal urgency as do basic local problems - because our homeland is inevitably interconnected with far and near neighbors:
(1) Proliferation of our OFWs and dearth of good paying jobs at home;(2) Economic recession woes, particularly continued US and EU declines, punctuated by trade deficits and currency depreciation;(3) Continuing security threats from international terrorists/ stateless "crazies," and trafficking of nuclear weapon components and other lethal materials;(4) Restructuring/realignments of the worldwide economic/ financial architecture; and,(5) Global warming/climate change from massive environmental abuse and still uncontrolled carbon emissions not adequately addressed by big global polluters in relation to their aid commitments to mitigate developing world calamities.
Our national interests
Beyond the motherhood promises of candidates during the elections, the new leaders must now buckle down (within 100 days) to short-term specifics and, concurrently, sustainable long-term programs that lead to distributive economic progress and equitable social empowerment. The national interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people could be said to embrace four essential aspects:
(1) Security of our territorial integrity and sovereignty;(2) Well-being, values and better quality of life of our people;(3) Protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos; and,(4) Position of higher respect and dignity for the Philippines in the community of nations.
In our previous writings, we identified a number of ticking timebombs that emerged from the Estrada and the Arroyo periods, mainly because of their lack of unity of purpose, solidarity in values and teamwork in nation-building. Most of these major problems were thoroughly debated during the election campaign, and surely now are well-known to our long-suffering public and especially the Aquino III team:
(1) Mass poverty due to rising prices, and deepening rich-poor gap.(2) Environmental abuse resulting in less potable water, deteriorated natural resources, lower hydropower output and agricultural degradation.(3) Reputation for official corruption and bureaucratic redtape leading to higher costs.(4) Disputatious/flip-flopping culture in decision-making.(5) A divided society with predominating vestiges of feudal paternalism.(6) Lack of durable peace in Mindanao and other places.(7) Unlevel playing field favoring dynasties, monopolies and oligarchies. Self-Inflicted Problems, Thanks to PGMA New difficulties arose in the recent past because of controversial Arroyo decisions/actions:(8) Unwillingness of PGMA to relinquish power by pursuing a House seat/Speakership while still sitting President.(9) PGMA's sub-zero ratings that are liabilities for honest workers in her Administration, and disincentives for …