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Filipinos raise eyebrows as prez makes it to TIME 100 list

The inclusion may 'sound hollow in the face of the situation of poor people' in the country, they say
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is seen at Malacanang Palace in Manila, in this handout photo taken on April 22, 2023, and released by the Presidential Communications Office.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is seen at Malacanang Palace in Manila, in this handout photo taken on April 22, 2023, and released by the Presidential Communications Office. (Photo AFP)

Published: April 23, 2024 11:41 AM GMT
Updated: April 24, 2024 04:04 AM GMT

A Church leader and a rights activist have called the inclusion of Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2024, a “hollow and controversial” decision.

“For sure the decision is going to be a controversial one,” said Father James Abella, chancellor of the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Samar.

The priest wondered if there could be “many reasons for the selection — his [president’s] policies, initiatives, political achievements, etc.”

“I just hope that this award may impact greatly our economy and help alleviate poverty in the Philippines,” Abella told UCA News on April 22.

In an April 17 article, TIME wrote Marcos Jr. owed his rise to the presidency in 2022 “to whitewashing this family legacy through clever manipulation of social media,” but this also resulted in other shifts.

“He brought technocrats back into government, steadied the post-pandemic economy, and elevated the Philippines on the world stage,” it added.

The Presidential Communications Office said the inclusion in the TIME 100 list “reflects his brand of leadership that puts the national interest and the welfare of every Filipino above all else.”

Danilo Carranza, secretary general of the Movement for Agrarian Reform and Social Justice, said the criteria for the inclusion of Marcos Jr. in the list wasn’t clear.

The inclusion in the TIME 100 list may “sound hollow in the face of the situation of poor people who continue to be excluded from the attention they need from the government,” he said.

“Is he impacting the lives of the people for the better?  He needs to do a lot more to be in that category,” he added.

Carranza said if the president was truly influential, he should be seen addressing rural concerns by fully and comprehensively implementing agrarian reforms.

“We also need to see his influence in the justice system by ending the use of law to criminalize farmers who are currently facing criminal charges and warrants because of trumped-up charges,” he told UCA News on April 20.

Carranza also stressed the implementation of Republic Act 11524, or The Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, so that the coco levy programs and services will reach the poorest coconut farming communities.

The coco levy fund, which reportedly originated from taxes imposed on millions of small coconut farmers during the regime of the late Marcos Sr., has been estimated to have grown to over 100 billion pesos (over US$1.73 billion).

The law, signed by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2021, is expected to benefit 2.5 million coconut farmers and their families, and the country’s coconut industry, in general.

As of September 2021, the government agency created to locate the Marcos family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth reported that 170 billion pesos had been recovered and they were still after an additional 125 billion pesos.

Also, the Marcos family has yet to issue an apology for the atrocities committed by its patriarch during the Martial Law period starting in 1972 up to the exile to Hawaii, USA in 1986 after a popular “People Power” revolution.

Amnesty International reported that more than 3,200 people were killed, 34,000 were tortured, and some 70,000 people were imprisoned in the nine years after Marcos Sr. imposed martial law.

“My role as president is more important right now than my role as a member of the Marcos family,” Marcos Jr. told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines during a presidential luncheon on April 15.

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