Written by: Percy Paraan
With over 31 million Filipinos who believed in the promise of a unifying leadership, Ferdinand “ Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was voted as the 17th president of the Philippines.
Among his notable election platforms were to reduce the price of rice to P20 per kilo, improve the pandemic response, pursue a war on drugs focused on prevention and rehabilitation, promote inclusive education, and create more jobs. A hundred days after his inauguration on June 30, 2022, where is Marcos on his vow to give Filipinos better lives?
Mandates and laws
On his first day in office, Marcos vetoed House Bill 7575 that seeks to create a special economic zone adjacent to an airport to be built in Bulacan City. Aside from “substantial fiscal risks to the country,” he said that the additional tax to be shouldered by payers is unnecessary given the proximity to the Clark Special Economic Zone.
Among the first five executive orders (EOs) issued were three aiming to simplify the bureaucracy. The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and Office of the Cabinet Secretary were abolished under EO 1. Meanwhile, EO 2 reorganized the Presidential Communications Operations Office and reverted to the Office of the Press Secretary. EO 5 moved the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Department of Labor and Employment.
With the appointment of veteran economists Benjamin Diokno as Finance Chief, Felipe Medalla as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor, and Arsenio Balisacan as National Economic and Development Authority Director-General, various financial groups expressed confidence that the country can defeat fiscal and economic challenges.
Despite the peso plummeting to 59 versus the US dollar, on top of the continuous price increase of basic commodities brought about by inflation that soared to 6.9% in September, the administration is determined to make the Philippines a middle-income country by 2024. According to Marcos, achieving growth rates of 6.5% to 7.5% in 2022 and up to 8% in 2023 to 2028 is still on track.
He believes that the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy of his administration is the key “to attain short-term macro-fiscal stability while remaining supportive of the country’s economic recovery and to promote medium-term fiscal sustainability.” Once Congress has adopted this plan, spending and allocation of the national government will lead to the optimization of budget.
As Agriculture Secretary himself, Marcos aims to achieve food sovereignty to revive the economy. He rejected Sugar Order 4 due to the provision of importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar. Instead, he negotiated with grocery giants to lower the price of sugar.
He has also ordered the review of the rice tariffication law to help local farmers to have more income even when market price has been reduced. The Agriculture Chief also aims to augment the local production of pork, poultry, corn, and vegetables, as well as fertilizers.
Fight against COVID-19
Unlike other government agencies, the Department of Health (DOH) functions without a chief amid the call for a better pandemic response. Marcos, however, appointed Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire as officer-in-charge.
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), he vowed that there won’t be lockdowns anymore. “We must balance the health and welfare of our citizens on one hand and the economy on the other,” said Marcos.
Last July 26, DOH launched the “PinasLakas” vaccine campaign to promote the nationwide booster shot program against coronavirus. Marcos also received his second booster shot as part of the campaign, after testing positive for the second time during his first week in office. As of September 2022, more than 70 million individuals have already been fully vaccinated.
On September 12, Marcos issued EO 3 to allow voluntary use of face masks outdoors. While face masks are only required indoors and places where physical distancing is not maintained, senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals, and the unvaccinated are still highly encouraged to wear them even in open spaces.
He also extended the period of state calamity due to COVID-19 until the end of 2022 to preserve the benefits, such as “indemnification, emergency procurement, and special risk allowance for healthcare workers,” that are beneficial to the pandemic recovery.
“At this time of crisis and opportunity, I bring with me the spirit of their enduring commitment to the ideals of our United Nations. This commitment is reflected in our solid contributions to the ca use of peace and justice.”
Marcos commenced his official trips on September 4 as he flew to Indonesia, with the intent to strengthen economic cooperation, culture, and defense. Four agreements were signed during his meeting with President Joko Widodo and other Indonesian executives:  Philippines-Indonesia Plan of Action for the period of 2022-2027,  Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security,  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cooperation on the Development and Promotion of Creative Economy, and  Memorandum of Understanding between National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of Indonesia on Cultural Cooperation. Highlights were the secured relationship between the two countries for the next five years and the renewal of the 73-year partnershipon defense and culture.
On September 6, he visited Singapore and met with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. At least five deals were successfully signed:  Arrangement Concerning the Assignment of a Team to the Regional Counter-Terrorism Information Facility in Singapore between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Singapore Armed Forces,  MOU in the Field of Digital Cooperation between the Department of Information and Communications Technology of the Philippines and the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore,  MOU for collaboration on the development of New Clark City, between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority of the Philippines and Enterprise Singapore,  Renewal of MOU on Cooperation in Personal Data Protection between the National Privacy Commission of the Philippines and the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore, and  Renewal of MOU on Water Collaboration between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System of the Philippines and the Public Utilities Board of Singapore.
After almost a decade, on September 21, Marcos was the first Philippine President to deliver a speech in-person before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. He pledged to abide by the rule of law, particularly on sea. “At this time of crisis and opportunity, I bring with me the spirit of their enduring commitment to the ideals of our United Nations. This commitment is reflected in our solid contributions to the cause of peace and justice,” he said.
A day after, Marcos and US President Joe Biden met on the sidelines of UNGA in hopes of reaffirming ties. “We’ve had some rocky times but the fact is it’s a critical, critical relationship from our perspective. I hope you feel the same way,” Biden told Marcos. “And in like fashion, we have always considered the United States our partner, our ally and our friend,” Marcos replied.
Controversies amid functionality
Marcos received backlash for the “lavish” birthday celebrations of his mother Imelda, wife Liza, and even his own in Malacañang. Former Press Secretary Trixie CruzAngeles said that they will only comment on issues that concern public interest.
He also drew flak as a photo of him with his son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos and House Speaker Martin Romualdez watching the Formula One Grand Prix live in Singapore during the landfall of Super Typhoon Karding went viral. While Cruz-Angeles confirmed Marcos’ presence during the international race, she said that his visit to Singapore again has been “productive” as he was able to follow through on discussion concerning economic relationships.
The President also dealt with the resignations of CruzAngeles, Vic Rodriguez as Executive Press Secretary, and Jose Calida as Commission on Audit Chairperson.
Marcos’ first 100 days as president are over, but there are still 2,068 days ahead of him and more than a hundred million of Filipinos who are looking forward to his plans on renewable energy, calamity response, tourism, digitalization, and employment, among many other reforms and promises.