By: Guillermo M. Luz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:26 AM May 14th, 2016
First of all, congratulations to presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte and presumptive Vice President Leni Robredo for gaining the vote and trust of the people. Their election into office is a reflection of the people’s hope in the future.
Second, congratulations to the senators, congresspersons, and local government officials who have likewise been elected to office on the back of the trust and hope that their constituents have placed in them. Third, congratulations to the Commission on Elections and all poll workers for overseeing an electoral exercise that has proceeded far more smoothly than anyone expected. And finally, congratulations to the voters who came out in huge numbers (an estimated 81-percent turnout), many of them waiting hours in line to vote, not giving up on the process even when the vote-counting machines bogged down and didn’t accept ballots.
The election campaign was a long and bruising one; it was nasty and vicious, fueled by social media. The campaign period certainly felt longer than the official three months. But now that the elections are over and most of the winners have been declared, the real work begins.
These elections fundamentally reflected a cry for change. Anecdotally, many people have expressed frustration with their personal situations and wanted change; they haven’t felt the effects of progress over the last six years. These elections also reflect an openness to or acceptance of the unorthodox or the unconventional. People are in search of different solutions to problems, new approaches, and even entirely new problems to address. It’s quite possible that we, as a nation, are not in full appreciation of or agreement over what problems we should be addressing.
The beginning of a new administration is a good time to introduce or consider change. The incoming administration has introduced the beginning of this wave of change. Openly considering, discussing, and introducing change at the beginning are steps to take advantage of that space and allow for in-depth discussion, planning and implementation.
Fortunately, some research has been started that looks at what change people want. Last year, the National Economic and Development Authority began a project to explore what Filipinos aspire for in the next 25 years. The basic concept was to understand the people’s ambitions, aspirations and vision for themselves, their families, and the nation between now and 2040. By understanding all these, succeeding administrations would be provided with the basic ingredients to draw up development plans during their respective terms. The aspirations, ambitions, or vision may change over time, but it is good to at least have a starting point on which to base discussions and plans. The work is called AmBisyon 2040.
After preliminary work in 2015, a large survey of 10,000 people (far larger than any election survey) and 42 focused group discussions were held in early 2016. The research covered people between the ages 15 and 50 across all income classes, with all regions covered. Here’s a summary of the findings:
An overwhelming majority (79 percent) want a simple, comfortable life. Only 3.9 percent aspire for the life of the rich, while 16.9 percent want an affluent life.
What is a simple, comfortable life? It was described as having a medium-sized home, enough earnings to support everyday needs, owning at least one vehicle, having the capacity to send kids to college, and being able to go on local trips for vacation. That has since been computed at roughly P120,000 a month in household income.
For Filipinos, the most important economic goals are the eradication of poverty and hunger, and the provision of adequate jobs. The second and third most important goals are housing, education and health.
As far as jobs are concerned, the prevailing sentiment is that jobs should be located in the Philippines. As much as 88 percent feel it will be good for the country if citizens stay in the country instead of going abroad to work in 2040. More than 69 percent will choose a job here instead of abroad if they have a choice. Interestingly, the majority of the respondents (around 60 percent) prefer to live and work in their hometowns or home provinces rather than move to big cities. They like living in cities, but not necessarily in megacities.
Concerning governance, Filipinos believe that eliminating corruption is important for achieving a better future.
Definitions of corruption include petty corruption (e.g., paying small fees to facilitate transactions), the lack of ease and efficiency in government transactions, and the need for more affordable government services. Moreover, Filipinos want government employees to be polite, helpful, knowledgeable and—quite importantly— mindful and not wasteful of the people’s time.
Filipinos believe that peace and security are important for achieving personal and national prosperity. As much as 77 percent consider peace and security as necessary for national development; 75.2 percent feel that peace and security are necessary for improving one’s own standard of living.
These are just some of the highlights of a survey rich in data. Much more can be found at www.2040.neda.gov.ph. We may not all agree with all the aspirations or find some not even realistic or desirable, but we should at least start on the same page and see how we can work together toward achieving a collective ambition.
Guillermo M. Luz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the private-sector cochair of the National Competitiveness Council.