January 23, 2018, 11:29 pm
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What lies ahead

SUDDENLY, it is the New Year, and Filipinos just like people in other parts of the world are wondering what lies ahead for them this 2018, hours after the boisterous merrymaking and intoxicated revelry have settled to a calm.

The template for this year, at least for the Philippines, would look like more of the same in most areas of governance, such as legislation and the courts, while the executive department faces the challenge of providing initial results from the expected largesse in revenues to be delivered by the TRAIN.

The Duterte administration starts the Year of the Dog with the announcement coming from the Palace that one important, high-level official would be fired today for corruption and/or inefficiency.  It’s a welcome continuation of last year’s initiative to make a leaner and better bureaucracy which, along with the abolition of non-performing government corporations, would cut down many white elephants in the national zoo.

In a sense, the nation is on good footing for starting the year from the very bottom, because we ended the previous one with much suffering and tears, tremendous losses, with precious lives slipping down the drain of natural and man-made tragedies -- typhoon Vinta, the NCCC mall fire in Davao City, the trigger happy cops of Mandaluyong, and the usual firecracker crackpots, not to mention the tail end of the war on drugs and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) which have reached a low ebb, only to experience perhaps a rebirth this year.

We fell into an abyss of disasters, as it were, and hit the bedrock, but there’s still hope because at this level, there’s no other way but up.

The natural Filipino trait of being pliant as the bamboo but refusing to break amid great odds will see us through this new year.  And this is most evident in the third-quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) which showed that 47 percent of adults were optimistic that their quality of life would improve in the coming months, while only 4 percent were pessimistic that their quality of life would worsen.

The SWS survey also said 43 percent of the respondents had high hopes that the economy would improve in 2018, while 12 percent think it would deteriorate.

Hopefulness and optimism are not enough, though, both for government officials and the masses of our people, because much of our work is still ahead of us, if we are to reach our goal of a peaceful and progressive nation in this part of the world.

First on the agenda is how to reduce poverty and provide food on the table of most Filipino homes, and second, how to add roofs on these homes, too. President Duterte has wagered on tax reforms, massive infrastructure building, collecting taxes from big corporate cheats, fighting official corruption,  strengthening the military and the police, fighting illegal drugs, and adopting an independent foreign policy -- all to achieve the desired results for the people.

As the nation takes on the challenges of 2018 with enthusiasm and renewed optimism, we can only hope that Duterte succeeds in some -- if not all -- of his bets.
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