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‘Bagong Pilipinas’ with old ‘hakot’ style of governance

The Marcos Jr. administration has much convincing to do to dispel insinuations that with the “Bagong Pilipinas” slogan, we may end up as G*gong Filipino.

Jan 29, 2024

Tita C. Valderama

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Six months after launching the “Bagong Pilipinas” campaign as the Marcos Jr. administration’s brand of governance and leadership, the government spent hundreds of millions of pesos for a “kick-off rally” yesterday (Sunday) at the Luneta.

The gathering was touted as a “call to action” for the administration’s campaign for change and development through the participation of the Filipino people, using the same old “hakot” system to bring in a big crowd.

Claims on social media posts about promises of a P1,000 to P2,000 allowance for each of the attendees are not difficult to believe. At P1,000 for each of the expected 200,000 attendees, that means P200 million, plus the cost of t-shirts, ballers or wristbands, and other paraphernalia. There’s also the cost of the banners, tarpaulins, transportation rentals and mobilization. Where did the money for these come from?

Didn’t the “Bagong Pilipinas” take off in the last six months that a “kick-off” rally was necessary to relaunch it?

Memorandum Circular 24, dated July 3, 2023, says the “Bagong Pilipinas” campaign “calls for deep and fundamental transformations in all sectors of society and government, and fosters the state’s commitment towards the attainment of comprehensive policy reforms and full economic recovery.”

The slogan comes with a logo that we now see on the letterheads, websites, official social media accounts, and other documents of state agencies and entities. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has since been mentioning the slogan in the concluding paragraphs of his speeches.

Why is it important to spend for the “kick-off” rally at this time when most Filipinos can hardly cope with rising prices and many farmers in the rural areas have no means to bring their produce to the market? Wouldn’t it have been better to hire refrigerated vans to bring the farmers’ harvest to the marketplace than to herd people in the barangays to listen to the president’s speech at the Luneta gathering?

The Presidential Communications Office, in its social media pages, encouraged rally participants to register with www.bagongpilipinastayo.com to avail of free services offered in a Serbisyo Fair, such as applications for the national ID, civil registry, and clearances from the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation. Aren’t these services available every working day in government satellite offices in shopping malls?

OK, it was like a one-stop shop for government services, with other agencies such as the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund and PhilHealth setting up tents in the area for the rally attendees. Again, the services they offer are easily accessible.

In a media forum, PCO undersecretary Gerald Baria was quoted as saying that “Bagong Pilipinas” is more than just a branding but a testament to the Marcos administration’s commitment to improving services to the people.

The P1,000 to P2,000 attendance fee may help tide them over for a few days, but how they can benefit from the Bagong Pilipinas brouhaha is what matters more.

How can a one-day kick-off rally demonstrate the leveling up of government services to reach the goal of “Bagong Pilipinas?” Rather, it illustrates the administration’s wasteful spending of public resources, unmindful of the living conditions of the poor people.

From many indications, this “Bagong Pilipinas” campaign is not much different from the “Bagong Lipunan” brand of governance of the old Marcos regime. And this may just be a part of the well-funded campaign to rehabilitate the Marcos family’s image.

The Marcos Jr. administration has much convincing to do to dispel insinuations that with the “Bagong Pilipinas” slogan, we may end up as G*gong Filipino.

 

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.
This column also appeared in The Manila Times.

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