April 27, 2017 01:57 AM PST
SINCE 2007

HALALAN 2016: More vital than ever

By FilAm Star Correspondent

After President Benigno Aquino III finally gave his unsurprising endorsement of Mar Roxas, we now have two confirmed candidates for the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections.

Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas II, the current Secretary of Interior and Local Government, from the ruling Liberal Party and Jejomar “Jojo” Cabauatan Binay, Sr., the incumbent Vice President of the Philippines, from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are the first two confirmed candidates running for President in the upcoming 2016 elections.

Other potential candidates for the presidency include: Senator Grace Poe, Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte of Davao City, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Former President Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada of Manila, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, and Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

 

More candidates will likely confirm their candidacy in the coming weeks as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set October 12 to 16, 2015 as the dates for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the upcoming election.

Senator Grace Poe, the frontrunner in the latest presidential survey from Pulse Asia, is still contemplating her candidacy amidst the controversy surrounding her presidential bid. Opponents have put a spotlight regarding her citizenship and residency; claiming that she is disqualified to run for the highest office of the land. She was also offered to be the running mate of Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas as his Vice President.

Both Mayor Duterte and Senator Miriam Santiago have hinted on a possible presidential bid but, however, there is still no confirmation on their candidacy.

As the Presidential field takes shape, this year’s election will decide the President whose policies and choices will shape the future of the nation. The next president will face challenges not only within our borders but also outside them.

International Landscape

The current West Philippines Sea dispute with China will most likely continue throughout the year and maybe beyond. Even if the dispute were to be settled before the next president takes office, it will be the winner of this election that will have to deal with the repercussions of the maritime clash with China. 

No matter the outcome of the UN Tribunal, whether favorable or not, the Philippines’ relationship with China will surely be different. While the onset of war is highly doubtful, it is nevertheless the worst case scenario that the next president has to be ready for.

China is not the only country that the next President will have to deal with. Other Asian neighbors like the ASEAN Nations, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong all have various interest and conflicts that need to be addressed.

The Philippines should also be prepared in case war was to erupt out in the Middle East with Iran and the United States, or a break in the truce between North Korea and South Korea.

National Landscape

The most glaring issue that has yet to be settled has been the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The passage of this law could end years of conflict in Mindanao with its proper implementation. Its failure can lead to another long battle with insurgent groups. 

Preparing the country for the next big earthquake and solving the never ending flooding situation that has plagued the country are just some of the environmental concerns that the next president has to deal with when he enters office.

Overseeing the continued economic growth that the Philippines has experienced will require a stable economic policy that is beneficial for both consumers and corporations. The implementation of the new Philippine Competition Act will have a drastic effect on monopolizes that have continuously controlled the Philippine markets for their own benefit. 

Other national issues that the next president will have to face are human trafficking, education, corruption, poverty, Anti-Dynasty bill, Freedom of Information bill, pork-barrel scandal, Maguindanao massacre trial, modernization of Philippine Military, agrarian reform, healthcare, and same-sex marriage

Local Issues

Transportation is the biggest problem that people face in a local scale. An enhanced and more systemized public transportation system will provide significantly improvements. Reducing the traffic that has congested the streets is another big issue that many presidents failed to address.

The relocation of squatters and typhoon victims to better living surroundings will also be tasked to the next President.

Many other local issues include: garbage management, preservation of national monuments, crime prevention, better city planning, infrastructure, and roads.

Lasting Effect

The next President of the Philippines will have a colossal task ahead. The country is facing a crossroad. The future president has to decide whether to tackle these issues head on or to postpone them yet again for another president to handle. However, this time, delaying the issue is not an option.

The West Philippine Sea dispute can lead a chain of events that will change how China and the Philippines communicate with each other for years to come. Every decision regarding this issue has to be clearly deliberated.

Every decision will have a lastly effect on the direction the country will take. The stakes are higher than ever. The new president can bring a new age of prosperity to the nation, or lead it to another cycle of mediocrity.