THE nation is looking forward – most with great expectations but also some with apprehension – to the start of the Duterte administration on June 30, less than two weeks away.
Big changes are expected in government policy and operations. It was, after all, because of his promise of change that President-elect Duterte won by a big margin over the other, more traditional, presidential candidates. His campaign against crime, especially drugs, will begin immediately, if only to meet the three to six-month deadline he set for himself during the election campaign. This should be accompanied by a cleanup in police ranks as the drug problem in particular is believed to have grown to what it is today because of either police connivance or tolerance.
At the same time, there will be moves to end the decades-long rebellion of the New People’s Army by getting the Communist Party of the Philippines and its political National Democratic Front to the conference table to talk peace. There will be moves to mobilize the nation’s farmers to bring about national food sufficiency and security and give agriculture its proper place in the total national development program.
There will be plans for government pay increases, particularly to policemen and teachers. There will be efforts to talk to China to settle our maritime disputes in the South China Sea. In all areas of government, the new cabinet members and other lower officials will be moving to carry out change, the core concept that swept President-elect Duterte to where he is today.
But along with these basic inner changes in the life of our country, the nation will be watching for outward signs of President Duterte’s style of leadership. When he takes his oath of office on June 30, will he wear the traditional barong – which he once commented was good for funerals? Or will he wear something simpler, like a plain white shirt and denim pants? Will it be at the Independence Grandstand with a grand parade? Or will it be at Malacañang’s Rizal Ceremonial Hall for a limited audience or at the Malacañang grounds to accommodate more people?
Or will it be in Davao City?
People are already beginning to talk about the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which the new president will deliver before a joint session of Congress on July 25. The ladies who traditionally come in the latest gowns in a veritable fashion show have been advised to come in simple Filipina attire.
So many changes are in the offing, some more basic and significant and more far-reaching than others. We look forward to all of them and hope that in the long run, they will bring about a stronger, a more progressive, and a better country for all, especially the millions who feel left out to this day.