The 100 Days Tradition

Fernando Cabigao Jr., ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group

Posted at Oct 04 2016 08:44 PM

The 100 Days Tradition 1

October 7, 2016 marks President Rodrigo R. Duterte's first 100 days in office.

The first 100 days is a period when the President “traditionally enjoys a honeymoon of sorts with his traditional critics –the media, the political opposition and, in the Philippine case, a vigilant Church leadership,” noted the late writer Adrian Cristobal in his book “The Millennium President.”

“The first three months are a look-see period for the media, a let’s-give-him-a-try season for the opposition. It is the first baby steps for the new administration,”[1] Cristobal added.

The period has also been used by the public, media, and scholars as a gauge of presidential success and activism,” said American journalist Kenneth T. Walsh. Presidents, Walsh noted, “tend to be most effective when they first take office, when their leadership style seems fresh and new, when the aura of victory is still powerful, and when their impact on Congress is usually at its height.”[2]

All Presidents post-Marcos—from Corazon Aquino to Benigno Aquino-- marked their first 100 days in office to report on their administration’s accomplishments theretofore.

The Duterte administration however, broke tradition when the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) chose to mark Duterte’s first 50 days in office with a “50FirstDays” campaign, which aimed “to highlight the achievements and milestones” of the President “since his assumption to office on June 30, 2016.” [3]

According to the PCO, it was the first time that a sitting President showcased his achievements even with only two months in office. In its Facebook page, the PCO said, “For the first 50 days, we have witnessed change happening every day,” even as it asked people to be “a partner for change.” The PCO also launched a documentary showing the best moments in the President’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) and a tabloid titled 'Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa' to mark Duterte’s first 50 days in office.

The 100 days tradition

The 100 days tradition was first started in the U.S. under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in 1933. Roosevelt first used the term on July 24, 1933 “to refer to the exactly 100 days (apparently a coincidence) that elapsed between the opening of the special session of the 73rd Congress on March 9 and its closing on June 17, a session that produced a record-breaking volume of new laws.”[4]

The “15 major bills passed by the U.S. Congress in FDR’s first 100 Days was widely seen then (and since) as a historic achievement.”[5]

In the Philippines, the 100 days tradition was started by President Corazon C. Aquino, according to the Official Gazette. During the 1986 snap election campaign, Aquino presented before the Joint Philippine Chambers of Commerce “the outline of her government’s activities in the first 100 days.”

After she was proclaimed President, Aquino reported on June 4, 1985 her administration’s “activities and accomplishments in the first 100 days in a panel discussion broadcast on television.[6]

Note: According to the PCOO's Bureau of Communication Services, the earliest available speech that they have is that of former President Corazon Aquino, and so, they could not ascertain whether past Philippine Presidents up to Ferdinand Marcos marked their first 100 days in office.

The tradition was followed by President Fidel V. Ramos, who “acknowledged his first 100 days with a report to the nation dated October 8, 1992.”

President Joseph Ejercito Estrada also followed the tradition by delivering a speech to celebrate his first 100 days on October 8, 1998.

For her part, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who succeeded Estrada after he was ousted, delivered a speech and released a report titled “National Government Basic Sector’s 100 Days Accomplishment Report” to mark her 100 days in office on May 4, 2001. [7]

President Benigno S. Aquino III likewise followed the tradition started by his late mother by having a “town-hall style meeting” on October 7, 2010, which was attended by “various representatives of civil society and the public at large.” Aquino reported on his administration’s activities and programs “in an accessible manner”.[8]

[1] Official Gazette. Briefer on the 100 Days Tradition. https://www.gov.ph/2010/10/07/briefer-on-the-100-days-tradition/ October 7, 2010

[2] ibid

[3] President.gov.ph. 50 First Days. https://president.gov.ph/#thenext50days

[4] Page 273. Alter, Jonathan. The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=ASmlaOHQNawC&pg=PA273&dq=%22on+july+24,+1933%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rDzOT-nzDo6i8QTqoviDCw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22on%20july%2024%2C%201933%22&f=true

[5] U.S. News & World Report. Walsh, Kenneth T. The First 100 Days: Franklin Roosevelt Pioneered the 100-Day Concept. https://www.usnews.com/news/history/articles/2009/02/12/the-first-100-days-franklin-roosevelt-pioneered-the-100-day-concept February 12, 2009

[6] Official Gazette. Briefer on the 100 Days Tradition. https://www.gov.ph/2010/10/07/briefer-on-the-100-days-tradition/ October 7, 2010

[7] Official Gazette. Speech of President Arroyo on the National Government Basic Sector’s 100 Days Accomplishment Report, May 4, 2001. https://www.gov.ph/2001/05/04/speech-of-president-arroyo-on-the-national-government-basic-sectors-100-days-accomplishment-report-may-4-2001/

[8] ibid