A lookback at PBBM’s leadership in 2023
A lookback at PBBM’s leadership in 2023
A lookback at PBBM’s leadership in 2023
by Ellicia Del Mundo24 December 2023
Photo courtesy: PBBM Facebook page & Canva

In a year marked by challenges and triumphs, President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. advanced several policies, addressed social concerns, and fostered unity among Filipinos.

This article will reflect on the policy decisions, diplomatic endeavors, achievements, and setbacks that shaped the presidential legacy in 2023.

Trillions worth of investments from Marcos’ foreign trips

In his second year of presidency, Marcos embarked on a total of 11 international trips for state visits, working visits, and official visits.

As of mid-December, the President has flown to China, Switzerland, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.

On each visit, Marcos not only acted as President but also as a businessman securing millions worth of investments during meetings with government and business leaders.

In January, the President secured a total of $22.8 billion or over ₱1.2 trillion in investment pledges from the Chinese business he met during his three-day state visit in Beijing.

He also sealed investment pledges from the global leader in investment banking Morgan Stanley during his attendance at the World Economic Forum held in the same month.

After he visited Japan in February, Marcos announced that he secured billions worth of investment pledges which was expected to yield 10,000 jobs for Filipinos.

The President also acquired over $1.3 billion in investment pledges during his five-day official visit to the United States.

Marcos pronounced earlier in his second State of the Nation Address that his trips abroad are yielding trillions worth of investments and generating thousands of jobs for Filipinos.

Marcos as Agriculture Secretary

During his term as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Marcos had put in the forefront the welfare of Filipino farmers, ensuring that they are free from debt and the lands they tilt are their own.

In July, the President signed Republic Act No. 11953, or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act which condoned the billions of unpaid debts of Filipino farmers, who are cultivating 1.173 million hectares of agrarian reform lands. He also bestowed 31,000 land titles to 23,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The following month, in September, Marcos issued Executive Order (EO) No. 40 imposing a one-year-long moratorium on the annual amortization and interest payments of agrarian reform beneficiaries to spare their burden.

As the Agriculture Chief, he had made sure that prices of agricultural products, especially rice, were affordable amidst the skyrocketing inflation in the country.

When the prices of rice in the local market surged despite the stable and sufficient supply, the President signed EO No. 39 mandating the price of regular milled at ₱41 per kilogram and well-milled rice at ₱45 per kilogram.

But while consumers benefited from the price ceiling, retailers in wet markets and stores outcried for help as they were suffering from immense profit loss for selling cheaper rice.

To give temporary compensation, Marcos then ordered concerned government agencies to distribute financial assistance to affected retailers. And a month later, he lifted the control on rice prices.

The President further assured that the prices of goods will not rise by issuing EO No. 41 directing local government units to stop the collection of pass-through fees for vehicles transporting goods and merchandise on local and national roads. The imposition of pass-through fees, according to Marcos, drives the prices of goods and commodities which burdens consumers.

President appoints DA successor

In November, Marcos officially departed from the agriculture department and named his successor.

He appointed fishing tycoon Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., whom he considered his childhood friend, as the DA Secretary. The President said he trusted that Laurel would be fit for the job for he knew well the system of Philippine agriculture, considering his 30 years of experience in the sector.

Before Marcos left his position as the agriculture chief, he was optimistic that there was still a chance to achieve his campaign promise of lowering the retail price of rice to as low as ₱20 per kilogram.

"May chance lagi ‘yan," he remarked earlier.

However, his successor, Laurel, believes that the ₱20 per kilogram of rice may not be possible to achieve at this time due to climate change, problems in the world market, and other factors.

Marcos signs controversial Maharlika Investment Fund into law

Marcos signed into law the controversial legislative measure that seeks to establish a Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) or sovereign wealth fund.

The MIF aims to optimize national funds and generate returns to support the government’s economic goals laid out in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, and the Philippine Development Plan 2023–2028.

The President regarded the signing as a “bold step towards meaningful economic transformation” while the country recovers from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Three months after the bill was enacted, Marcos suspended the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the MIF or Republic Act No. 11954 for "pending further study."

In November, the revised IRR was released in which the organizational structure of the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) was modified.

The following week, the Chief Executive appointed Rafael Consing Jr. as the MIC’s Chief Executive Officer.

The President's stand on ICC Prosecutors's probe into Bloody Drug War

In July this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) turned down the Philippine government's appeal to stop the investigation into the bloody war against drugs campaign of former President Rodrigo Duterte and the alleged killings in Davao City.

The President, however, remarked that his government will not cooperate with the ICC’s probe “in any way, shape or form.”

"We continue to defend the sovereignty of the Philippines and continue to question the jurisdiction of the ICC in their investigations here in the Philippines,” Marcos earlier said.

Nonetheless, lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives filed respective resolutions urging Marcos and government departments and agencies to "extend their full cooperation" to ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor.

Vice President Sara Duterte, former president Rodrigo’s daughter, opposed the lawmakers’ resolution and reminded them of the stand of Marcos. The Duterte family's ally, Senator Imee Marcos, had also questioned the call for cooperation.

Amidst the left and right clamor, Marcos pronounced that his government is studying the return of the Philippines under the fold of ICC.

Marcos grants amnesty to former and current rebels

In an unexpected move, the President issued four proclamation orders granting amnesty to former and present members of rebel and insurgent groups last November as part of his administration's peace initiatives.

The groups include Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB); Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF); Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Weeks after, the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines signed the Oslo Communique, a joint agreement that acknowledges "a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict."

Various government agencies, officials, and former rebels welcomed and supported Marcos’ amnesty grant.

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