Choosing next leaders more critical amid pandemic

By Kris Crismundo

October 28, 2021, 6:40 pm

MANILA – The landscape of next year’s national polls will be different from the previous election years as presidential aspirants are faced with challenges brought by the pandemic while voter turnout will likely decrease as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) fears linger.
During the webinar of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) Thursday, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) co-chair for National Issues Committee Rizalina Mantaring said “the choice of a leader has become much more critical” in the upcoming election amid the weaker economy and fiscal position has deteriorated as impacts of the pandemic.
“This will be a really difficult job. Unlike the previous administration that took over, we have a very healthy fiscal position… Our fiscal position is not so strong now. So the next administration should be able to work within those fiscal constraints, that’s a major challenge,” Mantaring said.
She also encouraged voters to choose a leader who will be able to control the pandemic and manage the transition into an endemic situation.
The next administration should also prioritize improving the health system in the country and generate more jobs that were lost during the pandemic, she added.
The MAP executive said the next president should be able to work well with the private sector as a stronger public-private partnership would be critical moving forward.
Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza also highlighted the need for good governance for the next administration.
“Despite all of these reforms, if we transfer it to the hands of administrators who are not going to make use of all that ability and all that power (and) will, and there will be governance issues, then, of course, there is a risk (that reforms) will be for naught,” Mendoza said.
He added the continuation of the “populist wave” in the country is causing more harm than the pandemic.
“I think populism is much more virulent than the pandemic. And we should focus actually on bringing back greater social cohesion in the country and greater political stability in the country and the greater credibility in the way governance is pushed in the country,” he said.
Mendoza said the government should place measures to protect voters from coronavirus to encourage them to go to their respective precincts.
Global data show that during a pandemic, 36 percent of countries that had elections have increased voter turnout while 64 percent of countries have decreased the number of voters.
Makati Business Club (MBC) Executive Director Coco Alcuaz Jr., meanwhile, presented the group’s wishlist concerning Covid-19 for the next administration.
MBC urged the next leader to accelerate the government’s vaccination program, resetting alert levels in areas with high vaccination rates to further reopen the economy and open up transportation, better pay and working conditions for healthcare workers and paying the hospitals, and unified digital vaccine certification, testing, and contact tracing system.
Alcuaz said the government should also mandate vaccination, but he added this does not mean that people have no choice. 
The government can put restrictions on the mobility of those who do not want to get vaccinated, he added.
The business group also wishes for the next administration to amend the Public Services Act, boost e-payments and e-receipts, strengthen the Freedom of Information, and repeal the bank secrecy law. (PNA)