Marcos Jr. administration

[OPINION] Ferdinand the Second: Not his father’s son

Patricio N. Abinales

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[OPINION] Ferdinand the Second: Not his father’s son
How are we to evaluate Year 1 of Ferdinand II's reign?

Last June, Ferdinand the Second already graded himself “incomplete” when asked how he would look back after a year in office. He then parlayed this admission into a call that “[a]ng dami pa nating gagawin (we have a lot of work to do).”

FM2 failed to see the irony here – i.e., his being consistent in not being able to complete what we consider as the essential things in life. This began with his education, which is littered with incompletes to this day. The next stop was his term as a local official, where, as we pointed out in The Marcos Era Reader, Ferdinand the Second was accused of being negligent in office. His Senate record appeared better regarding social welfare laws, but we have very little information on how much energy and effort he gave to pass these bills. My guess is minimal.

Then there is the city boy, a lover of urban life, claiming that all he needed was to dangle his position as “chief executive” to get things done in the agricultural sector. So far, nothing has been accomplished: going by the Philippine Statistical Authority’s latest report, agriculture and fisheries declined from P439.188 billion at the end of 2022 to P428.682 billion in the first quarter of the year. What did F2 do? Import. So nothing has been completed here save increased import dependence.

Travel and diplomatic chitchat are where he seems to excel the most. But small talk does not presidents make, and we have no idea again how his junkets had redounded to the nation’s economic benefit (on the other hand, the Americans were gifted with mini bases all over the country).

Expectations for SONA

Despite all this, we must expect some toplofty attitude from FM2 when, in his coming SONA, he is expected to proclaim that economic progress will continue with him at the helm. He will show how he has kept his ratings high. In two categories, however, that support slid: only 39% think FM2 is serious in reducing poverty, and 31% think he has inflation under control.

The surveys and aggregate economic factors will surely be in the minds of those asked about FM2’s performance. Alas, these commentators – critical of FM2 or championing him like organ grinder monkeys – have it wrong if this is where they focus their assessments on.

Ferdinand the Second does not have any legitimate claims to that prosperity. His predecessors own the copyright to the country’s economic growth, and FM2 has shown no evidence that he is a qualified addition to that list. He is riding on these presidents’ coattails or, in street talk, nakikisosyo lang si BBM, which has become an enduring habit of his since his father sent him to college.

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So are we to evaluate Year 1 of Ferdinand II’s reign?

His campaign speeches may provide us with the answer. One of FM2’s mantras was that he would recover his father’s legacy and make Filipinos proud of that “golden era.” Hence, what has he done so far to recover that? If FM the First were still alive today, looking at his son’s performance, what would be the lupus-addled dictator’s reaction?

Not his father’s son

Ferdinand the First will be in for a major disappointment, not superbity. He would let off a deep sigh, not even a smile. He would look back to his first year in office and even marvel at his accomplishments. Ferdinand the First started his term full of development talk and – thanks to his technocrats – did achieve something, the foremost being infrastructure development and the Green Revolution. Machiavellians also marveled at how he politicized the military, turning it into a “partner of national development,” a step further from what Ramon Magsaysay did.

Ferdinand the Second has nothing to brag about to claim that he is his father’s son.

This is how he should be judged as he heads to the Batasang Pambansa on July 24 to give his report card to his fellow politicians and the Filipino public. Ferdinand the Second can never be his father’s son. The intellectual peerage and political acumen are still very much the hallmarks of his sister. –

Patricio N. Abinales is an academic.

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