President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has been sworn in as the 17th president of the Philippines. Here’s what we know about his plans for the country.
Following the 2022 elections—held last May 9—Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. triumphed over his co-candidates by securing nearly 97% of the total votes tallied, which amounted to about 31 million. As the son of late president Ferdinand Marcos, he is following in his father’s footsteps by taking on this important position. And he was officially sworn in as the country’s 17th president, which marks the beginning of his term as of noon today, June 30.
The new president set his sights on Manila’s National Museum of Fine Arts as the location for his inauguration. A location that was formerly known as the Old Legislative Building, it too served as the venue for the inaugurations of Presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Jose P. Laurel, and Manuel Roxas.
As all inaugurations go, he began with a speech that spoke of promises and plans for the country and its future. Here are some key takeaways from his speech.
A Call for Unity
President Marcos Jr. started off his speech by greeting his esteemed guests: diplomats, fellow officials, former presidents, and government officials, as well as the honorable members of the Philippine Senate, justices of the Supreme Court, and even his family members and his mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. He then followed with his battle cry throughout the election campaign: a call for unity.
“This is a historic moment for us all. I feel it deep within me. You, the people, have spoken, and it is resounding. When my call for unity started to resonate with you, it did so because it echoed your yearnings, mirrored your sentiments, and expressed your hopes for [your] family, for [the] country, and for a better future,” he said. “That is why it reverberated and amplified as it did, to deliver the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
He then proceeded to highlight the benefit of hard work under his watch. “We will go farther together, than against each other; pushing forward, not pulling each other back out of fear, [or] out of a misplaced sense of weakness. But we are the farthest from [the] weak. The Filipino diaspora flourishes even in the most inhospitable climes, where they’re valued for their quality. The changes we seek will benefit all and will shortchange no one.”
On Moving Forward
While the President alluded briefly to his father, saying that “… he got it done; sometimes with the needed support; sometimes without. So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me,” he emphasized the importance of looking ahead. “We do not look back but ahead; up the road that we must take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic: gains made and lost; opportunities missed; well-laid plans superseded by the pandemic,” he said bravely.
“Indeed, ours was the fastest-growing economy in ASEAN by ways now outdated. We shall be again by [a] radical change in a way the world must now work to recover what we have lost in the fire. And move on from there,” he added, touching on the importance of post-COVID recovery plans.
Not forgetting the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the new president wants to remain a pacifist. “We face prospects of the spread of the war abroad, of which we are totally blameless. We seek friendship with all. But countries like ours will bear the brunt of it. And if the great powers draw the wrong lessons from the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, the same dark prospect of conflict will spread to our part of the world.”
Coming Together to Rebuild the Country
Rebuilding a country does not happen overnight. Neither does it take just one person. In his speech, President Marcos Jr. calls for Filipinos to join hands and help the government. “In this fresh chapter of our history, I extend my hand to all Filipinos. Come, let us put our shoulders to the wheel; and give that wheel a faster turn—to repair and to rebuild, and to address challenges in new ways; to provide what all Filipinos need; to be all that we can.”
“We are here to repair a house divided; to make it whole and to stand strong again in the Bayanihan way, expressive of our nature as Filipinos,” he added. “We shall seek, not scorn dialogue; listen respectfully to contrary views; be open to suggestions coming from hard thinking and unsparing judgment. But always from us Filipinos.”
Likewise, he emphasizes concrete action—on getting it done. “So let us all be part of the solution that we choose; in that lies the power to get it done. Always be open to differing views but ever united in our chosen goal. Never hesitating to change it, should it prove wanting. That is how agile, resilient republics are made.”
With a country that is still recovering from the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and yet still facing a ballooning debt, depleting currency, high inflation, and the rising cost of fuel, among many other problems, it is certain that President Marcos Jr. will have big shoes to fill in the road to economic recovery.
He addresses this in his inaugural speech, with promises of action plans to follow in his State of the Nation Address (SONA). “We are presently drawing up a comprehensive, all-inclusive plan for economic transformation. We will build back better by doing things in the light of the experiences that we have had; both good and bad. It doesn’t matter. No looking back in anger or nostalgia,” he explained.
Trade Policies and Food Sufficiency
Addressing the prevalent concern of farmers, he begins by saying, “The role of agriculture cries for the urgent attention that its neglect and misdirection now demands. Food self-sufficiency has been the key promise of every administration. None but one delivered. There were inherent defects in the old ways and in recent ways, too.”
While trading policies are in place, the war between Russia and Ukraine has led to many food shortages, which have affected many countries, including the Philippines. “The trade policy of competitive advantage made the case: that when it comes to food sufficiency, a country should not produce but import what other countries make more of and sell cheapest. Then came Ukraine.”
“The most vulnerable when it comes to food are the countries farthest away from the conflict; those bearing no blame for provoking it. Yet they face the biggest risk of starvation. If financial aid is poured into them—though it never is, there is nothing to buy,” he added.
Thus, he laid out his plan. “Food sufficiency must get the preferential treatment [that] the richest, free trade countries always gave their agricultural sectors. Their policy boils down to: don’t do as we do, do what we tell you to. I am giving that policy the most serious thought if it doesn’t change or make more allowances for emergencies with long-term effects.”
With rising fuel prices, climate change, and many other factors to consider in the field of energy, a clear plan must be laid out for long-term sustainability. “There is a parallel problem in our energy supply; sufficient fossil fuel-free technology for whole economies has yet to be invented. And it is not seriously tried by rich countries. Again, consider the response of the richest countries to the war in Ukraine.”
“But surely a Free World awash with oil can assure supplies,” he promised. “Or we will find a way. We are not far from oil and gas reserves that have already been developed.”
The Country’s Education System
Education is the foundation of the youth, which is why great importance must be placed on schooling and their learning. In his speech, President Marcos Jr. focuses on learning the basics and even integrating vocational skills that equip students with the proper skillset.
“What we teach in our schools, the materials used… must be rethought. I am not talking about history. I’m talking about the basics, the sciences, sharpening theoretical aptitude, and imparting vocational skills such as in the German example. Alongside the National Language; with equal emphasis and facility in a global language; which we had and lost,” he said.
Alluding back to the lack of resources, he also adds, “Our teachers from elementary up are our heroes fighting ignorance with poor paper weapons. We are condemning the future of our race to menial occupations abroad. Then they are exploited by traffickers. Once we had an education system that prepared coming generations for more and better jobs.
“There is hope for a comeback,” he vowed, naming his running mate and new Vice President as the person for the job. “Vice President and soon-to-be Secretary of Education, Sara Duterte-Carpio, will fit that mission to a T.”
With experience as the best teacher, President Marcos Jr. promised a more well-equipped and prepared government—one that is ready for the pandemic. “We won’t be caught unprepared, under-equipped, and understaffed to fight the next pandemic. To start with, we never got over the pandemic of poor if any free public health. The last major upgrade of a public health system, exemplified by the resources poured into PGH, predates the current shambles by three generations.”
“Our nurses are the best in the world. They acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties. With the same exemplary dedication at home they just got by. They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risk and workload that we have back here. There will be changes starting tomorrow. I am confident because I have an Ople in my Cabinet,” he continued, crediting the many frontliners who fought the COVID-19 pandemic and still continue to do so now.
“There were shortcomings in the COVID response; we will fix them—out in the open. No more secrets in public health. Remember, I speak from experience, I was among the first to get COVID; it was not a walk in the park.”
Rebuild, Rebuild, Rebuild
Citing the achievements of past leaders, President Marcos Jr. said, “My father built more and better roads, and produced more rice than all administrations before his. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte built more and better than all the administrations succeeding my father’s.”
With that being said, it looks like the president plans on continuing the legacy of his predecessors. “Following these giant steps, we will continue to build. I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started. I am not interested in taking credit; I want to build on [the] success that’s already happening.”
“We will be presenting the public with a comprehensive infrastructure plan. Six years could be just about enough time. No part of our country will be neglected. Progress will be made wherever there are Filipinos, so no investment is wasted. The recovery of Philippine tourism, with its emphasis on accessing nature’s beauty, I am sure, will exceed expectations.”
“Bigger is not always better, but there is something to be said for economies of scale,” President Marcos Jr. begins, and the phrase rings true from an economic and environmental standpoint. For the former, he talks about how the country invested in fast-rising industries with quick returns that have inflicted “irreparable damage [to] future generations.”
For the latter, he talked about how big changes have yet to be seen from an environmental standpoint. “We have yet to see large-scale practical solutions to pollution. Though some are beginning to emerge. But there are tried and proven new ways of mitigation. Blades have been turning over the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte, harnessing a power all around but unseen, long before this day. I built them.”
“We will look to our partners and friends to help the Philippines, who, despite having a very small carbon footprint, is at the highest risk,” he continued. “First, spare victims; then help them recover, and move on to lessen the harmful impact of climate change. We too have our part to play; we are the third biggest plastics polluter in the world. But we won’t shirk from that responsibility; we will clean up.”
And finally, he ends his speech on a confident note. “If you ask me why I am so confident of the future, I will answer you, simply that I have 110 million reasons to start with. Such is my faith in the Filipino. Believe, have hope: the sun also rises like it did today; and as it will tomorrow. And as surely as that, we will achieve the country all Filipinos deserve. God bless the Philippines, God bless our work.”