2018 was a good year. 2019 will definitely a better year.
2018 was an eventful year for the Philippines and the Filipino people. The year was dominated by a mix of successes and challenges, all of which tested the resolve of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, and Filipinos, in general. Of course, the usual political opportunists and obstructionists still made their presence felt, taking advantage of every chance that they can exploit to their advantage, with still them ending up failing to shake up the government and the people.
In 2018, the search for long overdue and badly needed political and economic reforms to be implemented in the Philippines continued. The Duterte-appointed, Reynato Puno-led consultative committee (Con-Com) on constitutional reforms and the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo-led House of Representatives submitted their respective draft federal constitution, but, so far, their proposed political and economic reforms seem to be sorely lacking when related to the actual intent of those who have been working for change. President Duterte himself seems to be lax in pursuing federalism and other reforms, and even in considering other proposed federal constitution drafts such as those coming from the PDP-Laban, Centrist Democracy Political Institute and the people-initiated "People's Draft" that he promised before he assumed office, preferring to just go with the flow. The political opportunists and obstructionists, especially the Maoists, are using black propaganda and politicking to paint a false picture of proposed political and economic reforms as self-serving to President Duterte and his alleged cronies. This makes the desire for political and economic change in the Philippines still relatively a pipe dream.
Perhaps what can be considered as major accomplishment when it comes to the pursuit of reforms in 2018 was the signing into law of Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 or the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Law. The Ease of Doing Business Law will be helpful in creating a friendlier business climate in the Philippines that attracts foreign investors and enables local enterprises, especially small businesses, by simplifying requirements, streamlining procedures and standardizing the processing time for government transactions. However, bureaucratic red tape, and rampant graft and corruption within national and local government agencies still persist, a challenge that has yet to be addressed fully since it seems that corruption and dishonesty are, unfortunately, tracing their deep roots within Filipino culture.
With 2018 coming to an end in a few days, it is time for us to look forward to 2019, an election year for the Philippines. Next year's midterm elections will feature political hopefuls, both traditional politicians and newcomers, all posing to be pro-poor, pro-people and pro-reform. As much as I want to be extremely positive about the opportunity for the Filipino people to use next year's midterm elections as a way to push the Duterte administration to pursue the path towards the implementation of federalism, a shift to a parliamentary government and other political reforms, and lifting of restrictions of foreign ownership of equity, more pro-SME and pro-agriculture liberal policies and programs and other economic reforms, I prefer to be cautiously optimistic.
Instead, I want to see President Duterte to take a more active stance in pursuing his promised reforms next year. Being the President of the Philippines, he should be the one taking the lead in the effort to finally lift the Philippines further up through political and economic reforms after 30 or so years. Maybe he can do that and also be leading government officials, strategists and public relations practitioners on how to effective sell the reform effort to the Filipino people and ensure that the promised reforms will be fulfilled and implemented starting 2019.
2018 was a good year. 2019 will definitely a better year. I am looking forward to 2019 with cautious and pragmatic optimism.