When old becomes new | Inquirer Opinion

When old becomes new

/ 05:15 AM February 02, 2024

At best, “Bagong Pilipinas” may be considered a stern reminder from President Marcos himself for government workers to provide “responsive, efficient service,” to define the new brand of governance under his administration.

“Services must be fast, projects must be completed on time. Deadlines must be met per schedule, distress calls must be responded to without delay,” the President said during the event’s grand kick-off rally over the weekend. Government offices, he added, should replace “red tape with red carpet [treatment]” while the government must no longer allow the dishonest and corrupt.

Launched quietly on July 3 last year thru Memorandum Circular No. 24 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Bagong Pilipinas seems to have been given the push it needs to gain traction and momentum by the Jan. 28 rally that had at least 100,000 attendees—according to police estimates—most of them government employees compelled to attend the event.


A Jan. 19 memorandum issued by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos “strongly encouraged” local government units in the National Capital Region, and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, and Pampanga, and the city of Angeles to attend the event.


A master plan

While the President’s speech stated the obvious—which is what’s naturally expected of government workers paid with taxpayer money—surely there’s no harm in this pep rally enjoining public servants to do their job well? Surely, as Mr. Marcos took pains to emphasize, Bagong Pilipinas is not part of a new political machinery, and definitely not “a political game plan that caters to a privileged few” but “a master plan for genuine development that benefits all our people”?

But with the 2025 elections just around the corner, who can blame skeptics for speculating otherwise, what with the majority coalition seemingly in disarray over Charter change and untenable political alliances? It did not help that a “prayer rally” was held on the same day in Davao City, where former president Rodrigo Duterte and his son took turns lambasting Mr. Marcos.

The President’s own sister, Sen. Imee Marcos who is a close ally of Vice President Sara Duterte, described Bagong Pilipinas in a radio interview as “a BBM loyalty rally.” Why, she wondered, was a rally necessary when Bagong Pilipinas Serbisyo Fair caravans were held throughout the country last year? Isn’t this show of force an acknowledgment of rumored destabilization plots against the administration? the senator asked.

‘Bagong Lipunan’

Opposition groups voiced their own reservations, noting how reminiscent Bagong Pilipinas is to the “Bagong Lipunan” movement of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., during martial law. Is this another attempt to “deodorize the infamous Marcos dictatorship using the resources of the Filipino people?” queried ACT Teachers party list Rep. France Castro, who vowed to scrutinize the budget to ensure that no public fund gets diverted to it. Gabriela party list Rep. Arlene Brosas pointed out that instead of being fixated on form, the government should act on the demands of ordinary Filipinos for lower prices of basic goods and higher wages. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan president Renato Reyes meanwhile scored the rally as “an expensive PR [public relations] blitz to cover up the crisis the country is facing.”

Cost has certainly put Bagong Pilipinas on the spot, with the Rizal Park rally said to cost upwards of P29-million, as shown by some documents obtained by other publications. How then can people believe the vaunted goal, “Sa Bagong Pilipinas, bawal ang waldas (wasting money is forbidden),” when the President’s communications team had been less than transparent about the budget used for this event? Did the team ignore the President’s promise that “[a]ny preparation [for government projects], especially those involving the use of the town’s resources, must be open to the public and not hidden … ”?

Perennial problems

As for Bagong Pilipinas’ call “for deep and fundamental transformations in all sectors of society and government,” the President’s trusted lieutenants can certainly work on several perennial problems to test this movement’s resolve and prove its sincerity.


There’s the notorious road congestion in the Metro that has earned the city the dubious distinction of having the worst traffic in the world. Can it crack down on cops involved in crimes, like the kidnapping of “e-sabong” players and the still missing beauty pageant contestant? How about the inefficient and slow processes for getting permits and official documents from various government offices, such as the national ID, driver’s licenses and vehicle plates, passports, among others? Most of all, what the public expects from the government is to address problems of high prices of food and basic commodities, lack of jobs, and other gut issues.

Indeed, if the goal was to prod public servants to deliver fast and efficient service, government agencies only need to consciously deliver on their respective mandates under the resolute leadership of the President. No need for grand rallies.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

TAGS: column, Editorial

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.