Drilon outlines four priorities for BBM administration

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon prodded President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on his first day in office at Malacañang to promptly address the “inadequate health-care system, a pandemic-battered economy, a failing education system, and a weak rule of law.

“President-elect Marcos Jr. should capitalize on the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ and exercise political will in the first 100 days of his presidency to address these four urgent issues that remain unresolved and define his legislative priorities,” Drilon suggested.

The Minority Leader listed as “first and foremost, is the issue of health,” noting that the Covid-19 pandemic already exposed “the weakness and inadequacy of our health-care system.”

“We lack hospitals,” said Drilon, deploring that “our health information system is inefficient,” lamenting, “We do not provide sufficient protection and benefits to our health-care professionals both in the public and private sectors.”

The senator stressed, “There must be long-term solutions. We must have more hospitals. We must strengthen our Universal Health Care program. We must appoint the right people in PhilHealth as our main health insurance agency.”

At the same time, Drilon reminded concerned health authorities “we must not repeat the mistakes of the past,” recalling, for instance, “the corruption and overpricing controversies that had hounded PhilHealth.”

“The country’s weak healthcare system coupled by the mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic put the country in a dire situation, the minority leader lamented, citing “the poor state of education system in the country that, he decried, was “made even worse by the pandemic.”

Citing an earlier World Bank report that showed that 9 out of 10 kids aged 10 in the country cannot read, Drilon stressed “a roadmap must be immediately put in place, because the effect is long term” if the problems facing the country’s educational system is not addressed promptly.

The senator recalled that the Senate, just last week, ratified the bicameral report seeking to establish the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) tasked to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the education system.

“There should be a joint executive-legislative educational commission, because the solution requires both the action of the executive and the legislative,” according to Drilon.

He took note that based on the World Bank study, Drilon deplored the learning poverty is alarming at 90 percent in 2020, whereas Indonesia has 35.4 percent, Malaysia at 13.9 percent, Singapore at 2.8 percent, Thailand at 23.5 percent, and Vietnam at 1.7 percent.

He recalled that the said report had noted the Philippines joined Ethiopia at 90.3 percent, Madagascar at 96.7 percent, Yemen at 94.7 percent, and Afghanistan at 93.4 percent with the worst learning poverty. “This should worry the next administration. I cannot imagine a future with 9 out of 10 Filipino children who cannot read,” said Drilon, noting that the incoming President should build a strong economy.

He affirmed, “The key here is the economic managers, adding, “The President-elect must choose a strong and cohesive economic team that shares a common vision. His team must be able to formulate fiscal policies that will put the economy on a path to recovery.”

“We need not just the best minds but team players. The next economic team must be able to work with the legislative in terms of legislation.”

Acknowledging that the economy is “in a very difficult situation,” the senator noted, “We have a debt of P12.68 trillion as of March. We continuously incur a huge budget deficit because of our inefficient tax collection that is made even worse by the pandemic. Our Covid-19 war chest is dwindling, yet, the pandemic is still within our midst,” said Drilon.

He also took note of the high prices of fuel prices due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine that further caused inflation to rise.