No matter how Malacañang downplayed or hardly even talked about it, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his family’s extra-official F1 Grand Prix weekend frolic in Singapore in early October reeked of burnt asphalt, and that’s just figuratively. Not only was it bad optics and an even worse communications mishap, but it was also grossly insensitive and inappropriate considering how slowly the country is picking up from the ravages of the pandemic and how heinously expensive getting by has become these days. 

The P2-billion jet he and his family and friends used to watch the F1 race was a Gulfstream G280, bought in 2019 supposedly to serve as an “airborne command post” for senior leaders and commanders during emergencies. The racing spectacle was officially justified as private time for Mr. Marcos, who, in his inaugural address just a few months ago boasted of the “resounding” mandate from the electorate. But for sure it didn’t resonate well with the rest of us, especially as the country is still reeling and bleeding from the economic nosedive caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and is presently being wrecked by spiraling energy costs and inflation woes.

It is eerily unsurprising and foreboding at the same time. Imeldific is back.

Incredibly too, the escapade came on the heels of highly controversial organizational goofs and collisions that saw the departure of executive secretary and erstwhile Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a Thomasian, has been replaced as executive secretary by former associate justice Lucas Bersamin, who voted in favor of the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

All this, plus the recent resignations of press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles and Commission on Audit chairman Jose Calida early on and the continued vacancies in government positions, suggest a scattered and bewildered administration that will potentially disappoint resoundingly if continues to act with less urgency and sensitivity.  

Marcos Jr.’s recent display of his Imeldific tastes is also as concerning given his government’s seemingly unending need for confidential funds. Albay Rep. Edsel Lagman, the newly elected Liberal Party president, recently said the confidential funds in the 2023 budget amounted to P9.29 billion. Marcos Jr.’s apparent partner in crime, Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, had P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds for her Office of the Vice President and Department of Education.

As Lagman said, “Since the utilization of confidential and intelligence funds are shrouded in mystery and the supposed audit by the Commission on Audit could not be disclosed to the Congress and the public, these funds breed corruption, and the more enormous the funds are, the greater the magnitude is for the possibility of graft.”

Instead of splurging on his expensive leisure activities and assigning himself every confidential funds, the President should instead listen to the people’s plight. Results of a Pulse Asia survey released in late October showed that inflation remained the top concern Filipinos want the Marcos Jr. government to address. The Philippine Statistics Authority reported an inflation rate of 7.6 percent for October 2022, the highest since December 2008, as the country continued to see numerous spikes in food and energy prices. Since Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency, the country’s inflation rate has not been under 6 percent.

Marcos Jr., son of Ferdinand Sr. and Her Imeldific, the conjugal kleptocracy that committed “The Greatest Robbery of A Government” according to the Guinness World Records, needs to calm down on his spending galore and be more sensitive to the needs of the people. Perhaps because his executive powers extend to the legislative thanks to his cousin Martin Romualdez being the House speaker, Marcos Jr. doesn’t have to worry about checks and balances.

The Marcos administration has promised several government reforms but it has yet to achieve anything significant. Now more than ever, with prices of almost all commodities skyrocketing, there is a need for good and honest governance and wise use of resources. The chief executive should stop being chief profligate.


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