AS we leave behind a momentous 2015, it is as much a time to look ahead to the year to come as it is to reflect on what we experienced over the last 12 eventful months.
2016 will bring great changes for the Philippines. The most significant event to happen this coming year will be the national elections in May, and the country will undoubtedly experience other changes due to such things as the El Nino climate phenomenon – which, we have already been warned, will cause drought conditions across much of the country – the first implementation of trade and exchange provisions under the Asean economic community, and possibly, consequences of a ruling by the UN tribunal on the Philippines’ claim against China over the West Philippine Sea.
How the coming year will shape our lives is something we can only guess, but to the extent that events can be shaped the Filipino people and their leaders, we would like to offer a few suggestions:
Fair, clean, and credible elections: Many of our people are already highly skeptical that next May’s elections, which are to be conducted with an automated system about which there are far too many questions and overseen by an electoral agency that has so far largely failed to demonstrate objectivity or even basic competence will be compromised by fraud and technical glitches, producing a result that does not reflect the will of the people. Quite frankly, we share these same skepticisms. It is our hope that the public outcry for trustworthy elections will spur the Comelec and candidates across the country to redouble their efforts to produce honest results through an efficient and transparent process, and eschew such dirty and dilatory tactics as vote-buying, sabotage, and endless legal challenges.
A legitimate and serious effort to improve the country’s infrastructure: Or put another way, a change in behavior from the Aquino Administration’s discussing infrastructure ad nauseum without really doing anything about it, to developing actual, serious plans and setting them on a clear path to being realized. Obviously, not much can be accomplished in a year in which there will be a change in government, but that does not in any way mean that the new government, whoever leads it, cannot hit the ground running with an infrastructure strategy already prepared before taking office. The years of treating national government as a training academy for the incapable and uninitiated must come to end.
Meaningful tax reform: The stubborn insistence of President BS Aquino 3rd that lowering income tax rates or even tinkering with the current outdated tax code will cost the government too much money is selfish and wrong. The president is correct in noting that a simple reduction is not really the solution, but his conclusion that the best alternative is to do nothing is not the answer. Tax reform – adjusting tax rates to better reflect economic realities and ease the burden on low- and middle-income taxpayers, and revamping the structure of tax laws and collections to improve efficiency and reduce tax cheating – has the widespread support of the public, key business organizations, and the Legislature.
It is high time the obstinacy of one uninformed man be overruled for the good of the country.