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The issues that mean most to the people

WHEN President Duterte took his oath of office and delivered his inaugural address in Malacañang last June 30, among the most prominent guests was former President Fidel V. Ramos. After his speech, the President went to FVR to thank him for his support in the election.

After the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China’s claims in the South China Sea in a case filed by the Philippines, President Duterte turned to FVR and asked him to go to China to meet with Chinese leaders to see what the two nations can agree on in the wake of the ruling.

Such is the esteem in which President Duterte holds former President Ramos. It was, therefore, somewhat of a surprise when FVR in his column in the Manila Bulletin last Sunday said he found the nation – Team Philippines – “losing in the first 100 days of DU30’s new administration – and losing badly.” He added: “This is a huge disappointment and let-down for many of us.”

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella immediately said President Duterte would look into the concerns of FVR, a revered elder statesman.

In his assessment, former President Ramos said that the people had expected President Duterte to act on seven basic problems – to alleviate mass poverty by creating livelihood opportunities, provide relief for rising costs of living, improve the quality of life and thus inspire hope for the future, enhance public safety and security, resume the Mindanao peace process, begin legislative action on Charter change, taxes, and other reforms, and raise the morale of the people to a higher position of respect in the community of nations.

He said President Duterte had become so focused on his anti-drugs campaign and got into controversies with his cusswords and insults. FVR appeared particularly concerned with the President’s “off and on” statements on Philippines-United States relations.

In the latest trust survey held by the Social Weather Stations last September, President Duterte, had a trust rating of +76, described by SWS as “excellent,” but it is significant to note that it is down three points from his +79 trust rating last June. It does seem a bit too early in the new administration for people to begin lowering their assessment of the President.

The anti-drugs campaign has dominated the first 100 days of the new administration. Despite all the criticism over alleged extra-judicial killings, President Duterte has decisively carried out his campaign promise to go after crime, particularly drugs, in his first six months in office. FVR’s expression of concern, however, should move President Duterte to see the many other areas that demand his attention and action.

FVR listed seven of them, the first two related to livelihood – jobs – and cost of living. These are the most basic of economic issues. These are the issues that mean most to the people of this country.