Dr. Alvin P. Ang
May 5, 2016
Drowned in the current string of controversies and surveys is the result of a national study commissioned by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on the aspirations of the Filipino family. The study, called AmBisyon Nation 2040, had a sample size of 10,000, covering members of the population aged 15-50 across income classes and across regions of the country. The margin of error is less than 1 percent.
The study found that about 80 percent of Filipinos aspire for a simple and comfortable life. It defines simple and comfortable life as having a medium-size home, having enough earnings to support everyday needs, owning at least a vehicle, having the capacity to provide for college education and going on local trips for vacation. In order to achieve these, the survey ranks the following as the most important economic goals in order of priority: eradication of poverty, eradication of hunger, adequate jobs, housing, education and health. In relation to jobs, the sentiment is that these should be available within the country with a good salary that could support a comfortable life as mentioned above and that the jobs should be stable and secured.
According to the study, the government and governance are key elements in achieving our aspirations. It, therefore, calls for a government that can overcome corruption. People see corruption as the key stumbling block to achieving a better future. Note, however, that the corruption that the people are referring to is not the large-scale corruption, but the ordinary petty corruption that people face daily in their dealings with the government. Ordinary people are the victims and readily vulnerable to these acts of petty corruption, where the perpetuators will most likely go unpunished. These may also be reflected in poor and low quality of public service and favoring a few and those with connections. In addition to corruption, people also see peace and security are important for the achievement of the goals. Peace and security here means better governance to protect the income opportunities and life goals against conflicts, disaster and disorder.
It is surprising to note that just five days before the elections, none of the presidential candidates had directly quoted or mentioned this work that Neda had done. This could have been a good basis in fine-tuning and building up their platforms and agendas. Although the aspirations and challenges in the study have been largely mentioned in the debates, they have been taken as individual challenges disconnected with each other. Almost all the candidates recognized that poverty, jobs and corruption are key issues that ordinary people are concerned with. They have mentioned these in many of their campaign speeches. In the different materials and web sites showing their platforms, former Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago have clear strategies and approaches in meeting these challenges. In particular, the Roxas and the Binay platforms provide a holistic and specific views on how to tackle these different challenges. Unfortunately, these details were not clearly explained and shared to the people that only a few actually know that they exist. The details of their platforms can be accessed through these links:
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay—https://www.scribd.com/doc/310578264/Binay-Platform
Sen. Grace Poe—http://gracepoe.ph/platform
Former Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II—http://roxasrobredo2016.com/roxas-robredo-platform
Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte*—http://ipilipino.com/platforms-for-2016-elections-rodrigo-duterte
Sen. Miriam Santiago*—http://ipilipino.com/platforms-for-2016-elections-miriam-defensor-santiago
What may be observed in these different platforms is that most of their strategies are not really in contrast to each other. Since people hardly heard the details of these platforms, the differentiating factor is not in the platforms but on how they are perceived to be able to deliver on these promises. Moreover, the different platforms have no specific timelines identified for the attainment of goals and objectives. Relating this to the AmBisyon study results, it is pointed there that the people have been frustrated by the daily corruption that seems to go unfettered. People are largely supportive of the broad anticorruption campaign of the PNoy administration, but are waiting to know what is being done on the things that they see and encounter every day. This is possibly the explanation why the current presidential front-runner who is running on a platform stressed on addressing crime and peace and order is leading the surveys. He is the only one who gave a timeline for his actions.
As we cast our votes on Monday, it will be critical to think about the aspirations of the ordinary Filipino. We should remember that the challenges of the Philippines today cannot be solved in a matter of six years. More important, it does not belong to the hands of one person. Much of the issues that the people are concerned with are actually issues that are addressed by the local governments. Hence, we must also look carefully at our local candidates and how they view these issues. Finally, the attainment of our aspirations for 2040 is a collective responsibility. It means that whoever wins this election, we should support and help the new administration in every way we can. God bless the Philippines!