Editorial

God bless our Indonesian cousins and President Joko Widodo

President Joko Widodo formally took office as president of the Republic of Indonesia on Monday.

His humble background reminds us of our late President Ramon Magsaysay, whose image as a man of the masses the CIA created. The late lamented “RM” was really of the well-established Magsaysay clan that belongs to the upper class, educated and political and economic elite of Zambales. He was a well-regarded congressman of Zambales when appointed Defense Secretary of our Republic during the presidency of President Elpidio Quirino. But “RM” did prove to be a president who had the welfare of the “common tao,” the ordinary rural and urban Filipino.

Unfortunately, he died before he could finish his four-year term—in a horrible plane crash that saw all of the passengers, except journalist Nestor Mata, perish.

Yet, President Magsaysay died leaving an example of truly honest governance and an example that succeeding presidents should have emulated–unlike the present occupant of Malacañang whose misrule, in the four years and a half he has been president, has at last begun to burst open like angry boils oozing pus in many government agencies, especially the Department of Budget and Management.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s most important region, has been exemplary in dedication to duty, competence and integrity. We are sure that he will be a great president of his country.

Indonesia is apparently set to continue its journey to a more perfect electoral democracy. President Widodo’s party bested the one that still had links to the military rulers of the past. His is the second truly civilian presidency elected by the Indonesian people, following the preceding one of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who ruled Indonesia quite successfully.

Unfortunately, President Widodo’s party does not have the luck of President Aquino who exercises almost total control of Congress. President Widodo and his allies control only 47 percent of the seats in parliament. This means he has to negotiate with other parties to get laws passed for the good of the Indonesian Republic and its people.

Since diplomatic ties were officially established in 1949, Indonesia and the Philippines have enjoyed uninterrupted much-more-than cordial bilateral relations, marked by the awareness of our common Malay roots, shared experience in fending off colonial masters and the pursuit of mutually beneficial common interests.

We and Indonesia are both founders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), members of the Non-Aligned Movement and APEC, as well as the East ASEAN Growth Triangle together with Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. That grouping, called the BIMP-EAGA or Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines-East Asian Growth Area, should prove to be an economic powerhouse one day.

It was started during the presidency of former president Fidel
Ramos. It can be made to zoom ahead with the concerted effort of President Joko Widodo and a more dedicated Filipino president than Mr. Aquino after 2016.

Indonesia’s is a prosperous economy. Like the Philippines it, however, faces serious problems of corruption, massive poverty and a wide gap between the rich and the poor. President Joko Widodo will undoubtedly bring his skills to bear in solving these problems more sincerely and industriously than Mr. Aquino and his corrupt Cabinet members have done here in the Philippines.

We wish President Joko and the Indonesia people, our racial cousins, all the best.