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MANILA, Philippines – The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mounted a grand rally in Manila on Sunday, January 28, to double down on his promise of a “Bagong Pilipinas” (translated as “new Philippines”), even though critics say the event was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
In a speech, President Marcos said the “Bagong Pilipinas” mantra is not just a slogan, but a commitment to achieve the country’s aspirations towards a better future.
“It is a call for transformation. The transformation of our idea of being a Filipino, and the transformation of our economy, of governance, of society,” Marcos added.
Garnering the most applause was his assertion that the government should have no space for lazy people.
“Services must be fast, projects must be completed on time, deadlines must be met per schedule, distress calls must be responded to without delay,” he said. “In whatever government office, red tape must be replaced with a red carpet.”
Other notable promises by the President from his speech include:
- prioritizing the youth’s education by providing them books and compensating teachers better
- addressing hunger among students through feeding programs
- increasing support towards farmers
- providing additional resources to people living in places vulnerable to calamities
The Presidential Communications Office, the lead agency in the rally’s conduct, has yet to disclose how much budget was spent for the gathering, which was filled with spectacles.
The event before and after the President’s speech was essentially a concert attended by numerous relatively known artists. There was also a grand fireworks display, and there was a raffle.
Organizers said over 400,000 people attended the event.
Prior to the event, opposition group Bayan said the rally was a “an expensive PR blitz to cover up the crisis the country is facing.”
Politicians in sight
Interestingly, Vice President Sara Duterte attended the rally in Manila, even though there are rumors that the alliance she forged with President Marcos during their 2022 election campaign have begun to crash down.
“The Department of Education is one with all government agencies in the path towards a new Philippines,” Duterte said in Filipino.
After she spoke at the event in Manila, she immediately flew to her hometown Davao City to attend a rally opposing the charter change initiative under the Marcos administration.
Her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, graced the event on Sunday night.
President Marcos’ sister, Senator Imee Marcos, was also present at the event.
Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a known close ally of Sara and Imee, joined the event in Manila instead.
She shared the stage with House Speaker Martin Romualdez, whose chamber ousted her from the deputy speakership in 2023. – Rappler.com