Marcos seeks the media’s help to empower Filipinos

President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. faced some 500 top media professionals and the business community for the resumption of the gala traditional “President’s Night” dinner of the Manila Overseas Press Club, on Wednesday, Oct. 5.  

He sought a partnership with the media to empower Filipinos and for a more robust Philippines.  “This is a partnership that we must strengthen,” the President urged.

In his 11-minute speech, Marcos spelled out the role of media in a democratic society and his administration’s guarantees on the exercise of press freedom during his six-year administration.

The President’s address was followed by a 20-minute open forum wherein he was asked about his peacemaking role in a troubled world (he wants ASEAN to act collectively), and about his achievements after 100 days in office.

Achievements after 100 days

Marcos said he established a “functional government”, assembled the best and brightest for his cabinet, and engaged the world to explain what the Philippines is now, that it is open for business and seeks partnerships since the country is “a friend to all and an enemy to none.”

Later on his 100th day in office, on Oct. 8, the President underscored his achievements under three major areas—”Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kapayapaan” (Health, Livelihood, Peace).

Marcos marked the near-end of  the COVID-19 pandemic by making the wearing of masks in public optional and achieving effective herd immunity for 73 million Filipinos. Jobs and businesses were boosted by the over P1 trillion in investment pledges he secured in overseas trips.  

Marcos met US President Joseph Biden, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, France President Emmanuel Macron, and  Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

“This event is a great opportunity to lay down the economic and diplomatic directions that this administration will undertake to ensure that we are all on the same page,” Marcos Jr. pointed out. “So I am deeply honored by this invitation to take part in this long-standing gala and the platform that it provides to discuss our concerns for the future.”         

“Thank you for this opportunity to lay down parts of the vision and initiatives for the country’s development amidst the global pandemic,” the President added. Later in a private conversation with MOPC Chair and BizNewsAsia Publisher Tony Lopez, as he ushered the President back to the presidential limo, Marcos promised to meet more often with the media.

Administration goals

The President sought the media’s help to achieve two crucial objectives: food self-sufficiency and infra buildup for which he sought the private sector’s partnership.

“The Administration’s first crucial objective is to secure food sufficiency and post-pandemic growth,” Marcos said.

He said, “the government is also focusing on its agenda of strengthening public-private partnerships and sustaining the robust infrastructure initiatives of my predecessor with our very own flagship – and I think it was described as Build Better More Infrastructure Agenda.”

“We need efficient infrastructure systems to serve as the backbone of the economy,” the President pointed out.

Media’s role

Marcos was emphatic in acknowledging the role of media.

“We will not be your leader but we will be your partner, as we work together to see the full promise of the Filipino nation fulfilled in the days and in the years ahead,” the President said.

“For all our visions and aspirations, I underscore the crucial role of the press in building an active citizenry – one that contributes to the development of our society,” he stressed.

“Your proactive participation in keeping a well-informed citizenry forms part of our collective goal to empower Filipinos and establish a more robust Philippines.”

Access to information

The President said:

“The nation counts on the media in improving access to information and increasing awareness on issues that affect our country and the world.”

“Your proactive participation in keeping a well-informed citizenry forms part of our collective goal to empower Filipinos and establish a more robust Philippines.”

Articulate plans

“I could not share all our plans for the next six years but let us – I will – stand here and I will say that you may rest assured that we continue to articulate our plans with the members of the media, of course, especially the Manila Overseas Press Club.

“As I share your club’s conviction in the importance of upholding the universal right of free speech and press freedom as well as giving and receiving accurate information, I’m committed to remaining open with you, constantly communicating our progress as we move forward.” “I urge you to effectively communicate to the public the government’s efforts and initiatives towards our country’s development.”

Strengthen partnership

“This is the partnership that we must – another partnership that we must continue to strengthen. It is the job of our media practitioners to not only analyze, to not only make – give their opinion but to also inform and let our people know what the government is doing and how it will help their lives and how they can be part of that progress, that process of progress that we have started.”

“Under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty.”

Protect media’s rights

“Under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty,” Marcos vowed.

“Whatever difficulties we may encounter from this point on, the government will always be ready to lend an ear and to listen to your concerns and to answer all that you may want to know,” he assured the country’s top media professionals.

Marcos explained:

“Because in the uncertain world that we are facing, these partnerships will stabilize our transformation into the post-pandemic new global economy.”

“And it is an uncertain world that we are facing, it is an uncertain future, and that makes those partnerships all the more important. And again the concept of unity applies.

“Although it was during the campaign (when) you could say a concept, an idea that we brought forward as a message to the people, it still remains as a guiding light to us and saying that what we need to do is to strengthen the Filipinos — the lives — each Filipino’s capabilities.

“What we have to do is to strengthen the Philippine economy, what we have to do is to strengthen our position in the world. And we need everyone’s help with that.

“At the very first, as I assumed office, I asked for everyone’s help. No one person can do this. No one government can do this. No one entity, not one corporation, not one business.”

Largest MOPC audience

MOPC’s Oct. 5  audience is the largest ever to be gathered locally to hear the chief executive of the land since his inaugural speech on June 30, 2022, and his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, 2022.

“Many of the tycoons in the MOPC’s elite crowd are partners or would-be partners in his modernization program for the economy,” said MOPC Chairman Tony Lopez. 

“They were eager to hear what the President would say on raging issues of the day, especially since his 100th day in office was a few days away.”

Significant issues

The MOPC event became more interesting after inflation raged, the peso lost value against the dollar, changes in the BBM cabinet, and the First 100 Days reckoning period.

Infra is the cornerstone of the Build, Better More (BBM) program which has a six-year budget of P10.78 trillion—the largest ever infra spending in the history of this country.

The MOPC President’s Night was staged amid the most challenging times ever for any sitting chief executive.  

There is turmoil everywhere—inside decision-making board rooms, in currency markets, in stock markets, and on a number of strategic battlefronts.

In his welcome remarks, MOPC Chair Lopez described BBM as “too nice, too decent, and too right-minded as to dominate the vicious rough and tumble of Philippine politics.”

President BBM is the country’s most popular president.  Probably, with his visionary hands-on leadership, a cabinet vast in expertise and experience, and the right execution, he will be a great president, Lopez said.