Good stories, bad stories in 2010
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
As we end the year, we look at some events, both good and bad, that made this year a memorable one for our country. Let us begin with the good stories which is led by the peaceful transition of power that happened in our country last June 30, 2010 when President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd formally took over from the graft and corruption-plagued Arroyo administration.
Many pundits (myself included) were predicting that the first ever automated elections in our country wouldn’t push through given the many hitches and glitches that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had to overcome in the months leading up to the elections.
While the elections were still marred by cheating and rampant vote-buying especially in the local level, the fact that we were able to pull through with the automation is an accomplishment in itself. More importantly, doomsday scenarios of declaring a failure of elections didn’t happen and thus, we now have a new administration that has pledged to eradicate corruption as well as uplift the quality of life of every Filipino.
Secondly, this pledge for a more transparent and accountable government has been translated to concrete initiatives at all fronts. Upon assuming office, Department of the Interior and Local Government Seccretary Jesse Robredo issued a memorandum requiring all local government units to publish their budget and expenses for the public to see. The Department of Public Works and Highways which was always known as one of the most corrupt agencies in government has launched a public action center which the public can call to report anomalous infrastructure projects in their areas. For those who do not know yet, the numbers to call are (632) 536-3477 and (632) 302-9196.
In an effort to also raise revenues for social services, the Department of Finance led by Sec. Cesar Purisima has launched the Pera ng Bayan campaign which encourages the general public to report tax evaders, smugglers as well as government employees that are engaged in unscrupulous acts.
Billions of pesos are lost due to the corruption that happens in the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, these billions can easily be used to build more classrooms and provide proper healthcare to the poor. You can help solve this problem by visiting their website at http://www.perangbayan.com/.
This is also the first time in more than 11 years that we no longer have a reenacted budget. This now requires all our government agencies to use their financial resources properly by strictly following the approved budget.
We have also seen a more aggressive Department of Justice led by Sec. Leila de Lima who has personally made efforts to ensure that the prosecution against the perpetuators of the tragic Maguindanao massacre moves forward and at a faster pace.
With these trailblazing initiatives by our government, it is no wonder why the trust and approval rating of the Aquino administration continues to be very high. Let us hope that in this coming 2011, the millions who live below the poverty line will begin to already feel the effects of good governance in their lives.
In the area of sports, our country continues to celebrate the exploits of Manny Pacquiao who easily demolished his much heavier opponents, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito this year. In May, Pacquiao went on to become congressman of Saranggani province and continues to push for legislation that will help curb human trafficking in our country.
Football also experienced a renaissance of sorts when our Philippine national team aptly named “Azkals” was able to make it to the AFF Suzuki Cup semi finals against all odds.
Earlier our Street Children football contingent in the pre-World Cup youth games in South Africa manifested impressive strength and skill.
Also in the international scene, The Only Way is Up—a project initiated by Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. based in Bacolod City won the BBC World Challenge while Filipino teen sensation, Charice Pempengco, earned new raves in the United States as she became a featured guest in the hit TV show, Glee.
While there is much to celebrate, there is still much that needs to be done in our country. One of them is the problem of jueteng and illegal gambling. Despite several pronouncements made by our Philippine National Police that they have jueteng under control already, the reality is jueteng continues to thrive in the provinces especially in Central Luzon and Pangasinan. Sadly, this illegal numbers game was one of the main reasons why our icons of good governance, Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca both lost in the last elections. Unless jueteng and all forms of illegal gambling are curbed by our government, more and more good and upright political leaders will end up losing and we Filipinos may all eventually be at the mercy of gambling lords who would dictate how politics and governance will be run here in our country.
In the realm of justice, the office of the Ombudsman has continued to be a major stumbling block in the Aquino administration’s drive to ensure that corrupt officials of the previous administration are put to jail. Recently, the Ombudsman entered into a plea bargaining agreement with former AFP comptroller General Carlos Garcia despite the fact that our government has very strong evidence that could easily pin him down for plunder. Unless Merceditas Gutierrez, a known staunch ally of the previous administration, is removed and replaced, the present administration will find it hard to prosecute those that have enriched themselves at the expense of public funds.
Finally, last August’s Quirino Grandstand tragedy has opened our eyes to the reality that our law enforcement agencies are still very much lacking in training and equipment. Unless we are able to show the world that we can take care of our tourists, we cannot expect to see our country compete with our neighbors, Thailand and Malaysia in terms of number of visitors per year.
Indeed, it was a memorable year for our country as we continue to move forward against all odds. The challenge that we all face in 2011 is how much we, as ordinary Filipinos, are willing to do to help our country especially the poor and the powerless. As we have seen for several decades now, government alone will not be able to solve the myriad of problems that face us. It is only through our own collective efforts that we will be able to rise once again to become the best in Asia.
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