By Wilnard Bacelonia

SONA PREP. Ongoing preparations for the second State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the House of Representatives, Batasan Complex, Quezon City on Monday (July 10, 2023). Speakers and new chairs were installed at the session hall where the President will deliver his SONA on July 24. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc) 

MANILA – Senators look forward to hearing President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. deliver his plans on creating more jobs and addressing the expensive cost of living during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.

In an interview on Monday, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said he is eager to find out President Marcos’ plans on inclusive and full economic recovery from the pandemic.

Unang-una po ay dapat walang maiwan na mahihirap nating kababayan. Unahin po yung mga programa na nakakatulong po sa mga kababayan natin. Dapat po ay walang magutom. Importante po dito, tiyan ng bawat Pilipino. Importante po dito trabaho ng bawat Pilipino (First of all, no poor individual should be left behind. Let us prioritize programs that can help our people. No one should starve. It is important that every Filipino has a job),” Go told reporters after distributing aid for fire victims and indigent families in Novaliches, Quezon City.

He also expressed his support for the Marcos administration’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, food security, supply chain management, decreasing energy cost and energy security, reducing economic vulnerability from the pandemic by addressing healthcare issues and strengthening social protection.

“The more we should invest po sa ating healthcare system sa ngayon, infastructure development — trabaho po ‘yan (in our healthcare system now, infrastructure development — this will generate jobs), and creating green economy, strengthening market competition, and promoting entrepreneurship – negosyo po lalong lalo na ‘yung mga (business especially for our) MSMEs [micro small and medium enterprises],” Go emphasized.

Senator Raffy Tulfo said the President did an “excellent job” so far, without blaming anyone.

“If you’d ask me how would I rate him, I think he did an excellent job kung iko-consider natin na meron naman siyang mga minana na mga problema. ‘Yan ang gusto ko kay PBBM, hindi siya naninisi (if we consider that he inherited many problems. That’s what I like about PBBM, he is not blaming anyone). He just continues doing what he thinks is good, best,” Tulfo said in a press conference in the Senate.

Tulfo cited the President’s trips abroad which earned the country a lot of investment pledges and showed the latter’s concern for overseas Filipino workers.

Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos suggested that her brother present a concrete program to ease the burden of Filipinos in their cost of living.

Paano ibsan ang taas ng presyo sa gasolina, diesel, LPG, pagkain, lahat ng tumatama talaga sa ating mga mahihirap lalung-lalo na ang pagkain pagkat umaabot ng mahigit 60 percent ng gastos ng hindi masyadong swerte sa atin (How to ease the high prices of gasoline, diesel, LPG, food, which all affect the poor especially the food because it consumes 60 percent of the expenses of our indigents),” Marcos said in a recent interview.

“I think we are in dire need of a cost of living program that will assuage the travails of inflation na kahit sinasabi nila bumagsak, numero lang ‘yun eh. Sa bulsa natin at sa pagkain, ramdam na ramdam pa rin ang kumakalam na tiyan (that even they are saying it went down, it is just a number. In our pockets and food, we can still feel hunger),” she added.

Among his top priorities, Marcos is optimistic that the country could sustain its momentum with its unemployment rate which further dropped to 4.3 percent in May this year from 6 percent a year ago, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Entrepreneurial spirit

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda cited the importance of MSMEs as she urged the government to support them more.

“MSME programs provide another avenue for Filipinos to rise from poverty through honest means. Getting out of the rut of being poor should be more accessible to all since if we have spending power, our economy will continue to flourish,” Legarda said in a statement.

PSA data in 2021, as cited by the Department of Trade and Industry, showed that the MSME sector generated 5,461,731 jobs, or 64.67 percent of the Philippines’ total employment that year.

Legarda, principal sponsor and author of Republic Act No. 9501 or the Magna Carta for MSMEs, called on simplifying processes for the quicker start-up of new businesses to boost the sector further, and help create more jobs and livelihood for Filipinos.

She is also the author of the Philippine Innovation Act, Microfinance NGOs Act, Go Negosyo Act, and Barangay Livelihood and Skills Training Act, all aimed at capacitating MSMEs to maximize their full potentials.

Legarda has also filed Senate Bill No. 8, or the Pangkabuhayan (Livelihood) Act that seeks to institutionalize the livelihood programs of different government agencies for MSMEs under one umbrella program in view of pandemic recovery. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)