by: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times
In last week’s press conference with the three major television networks, President Noynoy Aquino firmly stated that the August 23 hostage crisis will not define his administration. This declaration, together with the moves of the present administration to immediately investigate and resolve the hostage crisis, were well received not only here in the Philippines but also by the international community. Proof of that is the huge demand for our Philippine bonds that were sold in the international market wherein a total of $1 billion was raised. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima even shared with me through a text message that the demand was actually for $13 billion! This just goes to show that many in the international community are now putting their bets on our country because of the kind of effective and ethical leadership that this present administration has shown.
In a recent youth leaders gathering by the World Bank and the Ateneo School of Government, one of the World Bank’s representatives mentioned the importance of promoting good governance in our country as a means to encourage more foreign investors. He mentioned that many foreign investors will look at a country’s government and see whether it practices genuine transparency and public accountability. Foreign investments are very important, especially for a developing country like ours since it would easily mean more high paying jobs for our citizens. With more jobs available here, Filipinos no longer need to go abroad anymore, leave their families behind, and risk being abused by their employers. More jobs will also mean a higher quality of life and higher purchasing power which will help prop up the local economy. Truly, the effects of a honest, upright and efficient government trickles down to the ordinary Filipino.
Speaking about good governance, I believe that if Aquino wants to truly cement his legacy as one of the country’s best presidents, he should tackle the perennial problem of illegal gambling or jueteng head on. Last week, Archbishop Oscar Cruz lamented that there are even some people close to Aquino who are now receiving millions every month from jueteng lords. The initial response of Malacañang was disappointing, since it just told Cruz to name these people. Does this mean that if Cruz fails to name these people they would no longer investigate and put an end to this growing menace in our society? Doesn’t Malacañang have hundreds of millions of pesos in intelligence funds that it could use to easily look into this matter? If Aquino is truly serious about putting an end to this illegal numbers game, which also put a blot on his beloved mother’s administration, he should categorically come out with a strong statement about stopping it, just like what he did about the hostage crisis issue when he met with representatives from the media last week. Aquino should give full trust, support and authority to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo in this war against jueteng. Robredo has a very solid track record as Mayor of Naga City where, for the past 18 years that he has governed the city, all operations of jueteng was stopped. If Robredo can do it for Naga, I’m sure he can do it for the rest of the country if only Aquino will give him the necessary support.
If Aquino is able to stop jueteng in our country and put the big time jueteng lords in jail, this can be one of his greatest legacies. His mother failed to stop jueteng. Ramos also failed to stop it. Erap was ousted because of his alleged involvement in it and Arroyo didn’t even do anything to prevent it. The game is the root of many evils in our society, including the inability for upright leaders to win because of jueteng money that is poured out in the billions during election season. Moreover, it has also destroyed the lives of many Filipinos who have become addicted to gambling and have embraced a culture of mendicancy. If Aquino is truly serious about bringing our country down through the righteous path of governance, he needs to make sure that even before half of his term is over in 2013, he would have had eradicated jueteng from our country. Kung walang jueteng, walang mga corrupt at kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap!
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