Rebuilding Society, Rebuilding the Economy

The tasks facing the post-Estrada Administration are awesome.

It will be presiding over a devastated economy – deserted stock market,
debased currency, weakened domestic sector, cash-short treasury and a public sector debt almost equal to the gross domestic product. To get
the economy going, it has to fast track the repair and renovation of collapsing infrastructures while building new ones. But more importantly, it has to create jobs for over three million unemployed and in the long term, decent and regular jobs for over seven million underemployed.

It has to stop the bleeding in Mindanao by getting the peace process back on tracks.

It has to arrest the sense of defeatism among the people through hard
work, a clear sense of national purpose and a commitment to excellence
in public service. It has to lead by example.

Above all, it has to forge a social contract based on a clear vision of national development where the private sector, civil society, ethnic communities, political parties, religious groups and other sectors of society each has a constructive role to play in a mutually beneficial way.

What then are the major doables in the first year of the post-Estrada period?

1. Building a government of national unity and social reform. Amid the
present economic crisis and the looming possibility of a new Asian
crisis, a post-Estrada government must by necessity be built upon the
unity of both traditional and non-traditional political and social
forces representing the broadest sectors of Philippine society and who
are united on a minimum program of reform and stabilization, which may
include, among others, the following:

  • an agreement to hold a constitutional convention for the express
    purpose of strengthening the democratic structures of society, ensure
    genuine representation in policy making bodies by the marginalized
    sectors and set up standards of excellence for would-be national
    leaders,
  • a social pact among labor, industry and government on wage and
    price adjustments within the overall framework of saving and
    strengthening jobs and businesses, and
  • a commitment to reduce the investment uncertainties in
    agriculture by giving a two-year deadline in the completion of the
    long-delayed land reform program.

2. Re-negotiating peace. A post-Estrada administration is in a better
position to create conditions for the renewal of peace talks with the
MILF and other armed groups. It can declare a unilateral ceasefire, set
aside the all-out war policy of the previous regime and keep an open
mind on negotiating issues related to autonomy, poverty alleviation and
the like. It may mobilize the peace warriors among the imams and
priests, and the local tribal leaders and LGUs.

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