October 30, 2021

Choosing the future leaders is much more important in the face of a pandemic

The environment of next year’s national elections will be different from prior election years, as presidential candidates face hurdles posed by the pandemic, while voter turnout is expected to fall as fears of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) persist.

Rizalina Mantaring, the co-chair of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) National Issues Committee, said during a webinar hosted by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) on Thursday that “the choice of a leader has become much more critical” in the upcoming election due to the weaker economy and worsening fiscal position as a result of the pandemic’s effects.

“This is going to be a challenging task.” Unlike the previous administration, we have a very strong financial position… Our financial situation has deteriorated. So the future administration will have to work within those budget limits, which is a significant problem,” Mantaring added.

She also urged voters to elect a leader capable of containing the epidemic and managing the transition to endemic status.

She also stated that the future administration should focus on fixing the country’s health system and creating more employment to replace those lost during the outbreak.

The next president, according to the MAP CEO, should be able to work well with the private sector, as stronger public-private cooperation will be crucial in the future.

Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza also stressed the importance of excellent governance in the upcoming administration.

“Despite all of these reforms, if we pass it over to administrators who aren’t going to use all of that capacity, all of that power (and) will, and there are governance concerns, then, of course, the reforms will be for naught,” Mendoza said.

He went on to say that the country’s “populist tsunami” is causing more damage than the virus.

“I believe populism is far more dangerous than the pandemic.” And we should concentrate on restoring better social cohesiveness in the country, as well as greater political stability and legitimacy in the way governance is implemented in the country,” he said.

Mendoza believes the government should take steps to protect voters from the coronavirus in order to encourage people to vote in their precincts.

According to global data, 36 percent of nations with elections increased voter turnout during a pandemic, while 64 percent of countries dropped voter turnout.

Wishlist

Meanwhile, Makati Business Club (MBC) Executive Director Coco Alcuaz Jr. submitted the group’s Covid-19 wishlist for the incoming administration.

MBC urged the next president to speed up the government’s vaccination program by resetting alert levels in areas with high vaccination rates, improving pay and working conditions for healthcare workers and paying hospitals and establishing a unified digital vaccine certification, testing, and contact tracing system.

Government immunization should be mandated, according to Alcuaz, but this does not mean people should have no option.

Those who refuse to be vaccinated may have their mobility restricted by the government, he noted.

The industry group also wants the next administration to change the Public Services Act, promote electronic payments and receipts, enhance the Freedom of Information Act, and repeal the bank secrecy law.

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