How’re Among Ed and Grace Padaca
by: Harvey Keh
The Manila Times
ALMOST every time I get invited to attend or speak at a forum or conference about good governance, youth involvement or leadership, I am asked by some of the participants on what two of our co-founders of Kaya Natin!, namely, Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, are now doing after they lost in their respective reelection bids in the last 2010 elections. Aside from continuing to go around the country to share their stories of good governance especially among our youth, both have remained very active in pushing their advocacies. Panlilio continues to be very vocal in challenging the present administration (whom he supported in the last election) to eradicate jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling in our country. In fact, Panlilio strongly believes that unless jueteng and illegal gambling activities are stopped, it would be very hard for reform candidates who espouse good governance to win in the coming elections. This was his own experience in Pampanga where jueteng money was allegedly used and continuously being used to buy votes and to perpetuate electoral fraud. Padaca for her part continues to be a staunch advocate of programs for persons with disabilities and for the protection of our environment. She was recently in Negros Oriental, North Cotabato, Davao and Southern Leyte to share her governance stories to student leaders in these provinces. In her talks, she has also made it a point to stress to our young Filipinos how important it is to participate in our electoral process and to push for clean and honest elections. Panlilio and Padaca are prime examples that fighting the good fight doesn’t end when one is no longer in government, as they led by example when they were local government leaders, they are now leading by example as private citizens that are actively participating in ensuring that our government lives up to its promise to promote good governance and leadership with integrity.
Public-Private sector partnerships
Last month, the Kaya Natin! Movement (KN) together with the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) partnered with two companies to work together towards delivering better basic services to marginalized communities. MSD, a multi-national pharmaceutical company has partnered with us to help provide training to barangay health workers (BHWs) in Quezon City. The main aim of the program is to equip these BHWs with the necessary skills and knowledge that would allow them to educate women in depressed communities about the importance of maternal health. Aside from this, MSD has committed to produce Preganancy manuals that would be distributed to areas in Quezon City that would serve as a guide for women who are into their pregnancy. MSD is doing this as part of its commitment to help our country achieve the United Nation’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Quezon City’s dynamic Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte-Alimurung and QC 3rd district Rep. Bolet Banal are both partners as well in this innovative program that hopes to decrease the maternal and infant mortality rate in our country.
Another company that has also partnered with us is SEAOIL Philippines, one of the leading independent oil companies in our country. SEAOIL is working with KN and ASOG in a leadership development training program for local government leaders entitled, Champions for Good Governance and Education. The main aim of the program is to help local government leaders in developing responsive, effective and innovative education reform programs that aims to address the problems in our public education system. This is also being done in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and eventually with the Department of Education (DepEd). These public-private sector partnerships show that positive impact to marginalized communities can be greater if there is proper synergy and cooperation among stakeholders. More importantly, it also shows that our business community will be more than willing to work with our government leaders to address key social problems especially if these leaders are known to exhibit good governance and ethical leadership in their respective areas. In the end, our government leaders should realize that by practicing good governance, they will be able to attract more support from the private sector that will allow them to bring better basic services to their constituents.
Unity in sports
Although some of us were a bit disappointed when our SMART-Gilas national basketball team failed to win the recent FIBA Asian Championships held in Wuhan, China, we should still applaud the fact that for the first time in almost 25 years we finally made it to the semifinals of this tournament. This only shows that given proper mentoring and training, our Filipino basketball athletes can compete with the best in Asia. Kudos should be given to business leader Manuel V. Pangilinan otherwise known as MVP for investing much needed resources in SMART-Gilas. Aside from SMART-Gilas, MVP and his group of companies are also known supporters of the Philippine Azkals and our Philippine national Boxing team which I believe is really our best bet to finally bag that elusive first ever Olympic gold medal for our country. As we have seen this past year, sports continues to be a way to bring unity to our country. I hope that our government will eventually follow the lead of MVP and other sports patrons in investing in our athletes. Who knows maybe the upcoming 2012 London Olympic games will not produce just one Olympic champion but a couple more if only our athletes are given the world-class training that they deserve.
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Showcasing good governance
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
LAST weekend, the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership’s Karapatan at Kalusugan Kaya Nating Pangalagaan program visited Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. During the Kaya Natin! volunteers’ short stay there, the program, which provides free medical check-ups and medicines to indigent patients, helped more than 1,200 patients through the support of volunteer doctors from UERM.
What makes this program different from your typical medical missions is that all the participants are required to also take part in a good governance forum wherein they are taught about the importance of electing effective, ethical and people-empowering leaders for our country. During the forum, the participants are also given practical advice on how they can become more productive and responsible citizens.
Mayor Roque Verzosa, Jr.
The activity was done in close coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and was spearheaded by one of our Kaya Natin! Champions of Good Governance, Mayor Roque Verzosa, Jr. whose progressive leadership has helped transform Tagudin from a sleepy 4th class municipality into a bustling 1st class municipality in less than 6 years.
Verzosa is also a national Pag-Asa awardee, an honor that is given by the Civil Service Commission to an individual or group of individuals for outstanding contributions that directly benefit more than one department of the government on a certain degree of standards. He is also known for making Tagudin one of the most literate and child friendly municipalities in the whole of Region 1. One of his major projects now is to raise enough funds and investments to develop Asia’s longest zip line in Tagudin as he hopes to be able to make his town a prime tourist destination in Northern Luzon. I am sure that with more mayors like Verzosa, our country will be a much better place for every Filipino.
Among Ed and former Governor Padaca
Two known icons of modern day democracy, former governors Among Ed Panlilio of Pampanga and Grace Padaca of Isabela took part in the forum on good governance in Tagudin. Panlilio shared his insights into how political leaders can remain honest and upright despite the many temptations they face. One of the more memorable images of Panlilio is when he exposed the P 500,000.00 payola that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave to governors and congressmen in exchange for their continued support of her administration. Aside from this, Panlilio is also known for increasing the quarry tax collection in his province that allowed the provincial government to deliver more basic services to his fellow Kampampangans.
For her part, Padaca shared how she succeeded in overcoming her physical disability (she is a polio victim who needs crutches to walk) to become one of the most inspiring leaders not only of her province but the whole nation as well. In her six years as governor, Padaca shared that she was able to help uplift the plight of farmers in her province by providing subsidies that would allow the provincial government to buy for a higher amount the farmers’ palay and corn.
Aside from this, Padaca is a known environmental advocate. She fought illegal loggers in her province who were slowly but surely destroying the forests in the Sierra Madre. As a testament to her accomplishments, Padaca was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service which is widely acknowledged as the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize in Asia. It’s a pity that great leaders such as Panlilio and Padaca lost in the last elections due to the rampant vote-buying and electoral fraud that happened in their areas. The good news is that even if they are no longer in government service, Panlilio and Padaca continue to receive several invitations from schools, institutions and even Filipino communities abroad who long to hear about their stories of hope.
With Merci gone, what’s next?
The sudden and unexpected resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will certainly help the present administration’s drive against graft and corruption. Gutierrez has always been closely associated with the previous administration, which was known for destroying and corrupting our democratic institutions such as the Comelec and the House of Representatives. Now that she is out, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will have a golden opportunity to choose and Ombudsman who must remain fair and impartial. Moreover, the next Ombudsman should have strong political will to proactively prosecute government leaders who abuse their power and authority regardless of the official’s political affiliation.
If PNoy is truly serious about his pledge to follow the righteous path, he will work doubly hard to rebuild our democratic institutions without favoring his friends or close allies. Everyone is waiting for the next Ombudsman. Everyone is also waiting for justice to be served for all of Ombudsman Gutierrez’s inactions.
One need not be reminded that the P1-billion Fertilizer Fund Scam happened more than seven years ago and up to now, no one has been sent to jail. Jun Lozada sacrificed several years of his life together with his family just to be able to reveal the NBN-ZTE Broadband corruption scam but apparently it is only Lozada who has been punished for revealing the truth while the perpetrators continue to play golf in Wack Wack. These scams all happened under the watch of Gutierrez and despite overwhelming evidence against these allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, she refused to prosecute the likes of former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante and former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos.
If we allow Gutierrez to escape from her liabilities just because she resigned, we will just embolden more corrupt political leaders to continue with their illegal activities. Now, the present administration has a clear opportunity to show everyone that it is serious about punishing those who have betrayed the mandate and the trust given to them by the Filipino people. Justice should be served and it should be served now.
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This is in response to the stories which came out last March 10,2011 pertaining to the Ombudsman’s filing of a case against former Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela. Here is a link to the story which came out at the Philippine Daily Inquirer: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20110309-324429/Ombudsman-files-rap-vs-Aquino-ally
Here is the response of former Gov. Padaca which will also come out in her column at Abante:
Mahirap ang komunikasyon sa kung saan ako ngayon at noong nakaraang linggo kaya ngayon lang ako makakapagpahayag tungkol sa balitang may desisyon ang Ombudsman laban sa amin sa kasong Malversation of Public Funds kaugnay ng isang programang nagpautang sa mga magsasakang Isabelino.
Ang kapakanan ng aming mga magbubukid sa Isabela ang naging pinakamahalagang programa ko sa loob ng aking anim na taon bilang Gobernador. Kahit ang aming mahigpit na kampanya laban sa illegal logging ay itinakda para sa kaligtasan ng aming mga pananim sa mga matinding pagbaha at tagtuyot. Ang kauna-unahan kong naging proyekto ay pataasin ang presyo ng mga aning palay at mais. Nakipagtulungan kami sa National Food Authority para dagdagan namin ang buying price ng NFA ng hanggang P2 o P3 bawat kilo. Kung may paggagamitan man kami ng pera ng probinsya, unahin na namin ang para sa mga magsasaka.
Naging matagumpay ang aming programang ito. Napakaraming magsasaka ang nakaraos nang mas mabuti at nagpasalamat nang malaki sa amin. Sinabi sa akin ng maraming opisyal ng NFA na sana ay gawin din ito ng ibang Gobernador o Mayor. Sa aking panig ay walang naging problema dahil wala akong iniilagang mga malalaking rice o corn traders. Wala akong hinihingan sa kanila ng perang pang-kampanya kaya’t wala akong dapat tanawing utang na loob para sila ang aking kampihan kaysa ang mga magsasaka. Pinatunayan namin sa aming pamumuno sa Isabela na kung sino ang mas nangangailangan sila ang ang aming tutulungan.
Gayunman, hindi sapat na itaas lang ang presyo ng mga ani. Malaking problema din kasi ng mga magsasaka kung saan sila kukuha ng perang pambili ng mga binhi, abono, pestisidyo at iba pang gamit. Karaniwang umuutang sila sa mga negosyante na nagpapatong ng interes ng hanggang 30%.
Kaya’t nabuo ang programa kung saan magpapautang ng kapital para sa mga magsasaka sa mababang interes. Gusto naming iwasan, gayunman, ang dati nang nangyayari na kung pautang ng gobyerno, utang-kalimutan. Hindi na nila babayaran. Paano magtatagal kung ganoon ang programang pangtulong para sa kanila?
Dito sa programang ito kami sinampahan ng kaso sa Ombudsman. Malayo ako ngayon at walang paraan para mabasa ang detalye ng desisyon. ‘Pag nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataon, ibabahagi ko rin sa inyo ang aking panig.
Hindi lang ito ang isinampa ng mga taong dy-nasty na kaso laban sa amin sa Ombudsman. Mayroon pa silang paratang na inilagay raw namin sa aming sariling bank account ang pondong para sa aming proyekto sa NFA. Kahit na gaano kababaw ang kanilang batayan, gumagawa sila ng istorya. Napakadali namang tingnan sa aming mga accounting books sa Kapitolyo, sa COA at kahit na ba sa bangko kung totoo ito. Pero wala silang pakialam kung totoo o hindi. Ang mahalaga ay masiraan ako na balakid sa kanila o masira ang aking proyekto na siyang nagpapalapit sa akin sa puso ng mga masa. Mayroon pa silang isang kaso sa akin na ang nagsampa ay isang 80-anyos na matandang janitor sa isang munisipyong hawak nila, isang matandang ni hindi na marahil mabasa kung ano ang demandang basta na lang pinapirma sa kaniya.
Ang mga kasong ito sa Ombudsman at sa COA ang ilan sa mga una kong ibinahagi kina Gov Eddie Panlilio ng Pampanga at Mayor Jesse Robredo ng Naga noong binubuo pa lamang namin ang grupong “KAYA NATIN:A Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership”. Sabi ko, kung sino pa ang mga salbahe at walang hiyang magnanakaw, sila pa ang may ganang magsampa ng kaso. Lagi nilang ipinagyayabang, sa tinagal-tagal daw nila sa puesto, wala pa daw nagsasampa sa kanila ng mga ganitong kaso. Sino ba naman ang mangangahas noon na magdemanda laban sa kanila ganoong napaka-marahas nila? Hawak pa nila ang maraming piskal, pulis, huwes at oo, maging mga taga-COA.
Sabi ko kina Among Gov, Mayor Jesse at Harvey Keh, ang pinangangambahan kong mangyari ay kung gumana ang kanilang mga galamay hanggang Ombudsman at mangyaring matalo kami sa mga kaso, madidismaya ang ating mga kababayang Pilipino at sasabihing “PARE-PAREHO LANG LAHAT KAYO! Pati kayo na nagbigay sa amin ng pag-asa na mayroon pang matitino sa bansa. Pati kayo na inaasahan naming pag-asa na kabaligtaran ng mga trapo. Wala rin pala kayong pinag-iba!”
Higit sa abala na dala ng mga kaso sa Ombudsman, ang ayaw kong mangyari ay kitilin ang pag-asa ninyong aming mga kababayan mayrooon ngang mga pinuno sa pamahalaan na hindi kayo pagnanakawan o pagsasamantalahan. Kaya sa aming grupong Kaya Natin, aming laging napag-uusapan noon ay dapat malaman ng bayan na may mga kaso ring naisasampa para lamang sirain sa mata ng mga tao ang mga tinik sa lalamunan ng ilang politiko. Sabi ni Mayor Jesse noon, kaliwa’t kanan din ang mga kaso laban sa kaniya.
Sadyang mahirap itong aming pinasok na mundo ng politika para sana makatulong sa pagpapabuti ng kapakanan ng mamamayan. Pero ang mas mahirap ay kung mamatay ang pag-asa ng sambayanan sa kabutihan at, dahil dito, ay maubusan rin ng lakas at dahilan ang mga nagsisikap na sila ay ipaglaban.
Modern-day heroes for the Filipino youth
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines — Last week, I shared about the things that I learned as a leader from three of my role models whom I consider to be modern day heroes of our country.
This week, I conclude this two-part article by sharing about three more inspiring Filipino leaders that have greatly influenced me to try my best to become a positive changemaker in our society.
Dr. Antonio La Viña, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG)
Dean Tony, as he is called by those who work with him at the Ateneo School of Government, is one of the world’s foremost experts in climate change and environmental law. He served for three years under the Ramos administration as Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
It was during his stint at the DENR that he was able to resolve thousands of environment cases that had been neglected through the years. He was able to do this by ensuring that all employees who worked with him did their best and this was done as he fostered a culture of transparency and accountability in his office.
His main innovation was literally taking out almost all the walls in his office so people could easily see whether or not each employee was doing his or her job.
Aside from being a champion for environmental issues, Dean Tony is also a successful social entrepreneur as he continues to work with different organizations within and outside the Philippines in seeking innovative solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems.
Due to this, he was able to increase the enrollment of the ASOG’s Masters in Public Management Program by more than 500 percent. But more importantly, he was able to bring the program to different parts of the country such as Marawi City, Tarlac and Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
He is also widely credited as being one of the main driving forces in the establishment of a center for social entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University which helps provide training and formation to aspiring young social entrepreneurs.
Recently, he also brought the ASOG’s social entrepreneurship program to Rome and Naples in Italy for our Filipino migrant workers who are based there.
Amid these achievements, Dean Tony has always made it a priority to make time to mentor young leaders like me by continuing to teach at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools and the University of the Philippines’ College of Law.
Truly, I am one of the lucky ones who continue to learn a lot from his wisdom and advice.
Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, co-founders, Kaya Natin! Movement
When I first heard about the inspiring stories of their electoral victories in 2004 and 2007, I realized that with effective, ethical and empowering leaders like former Pampanga Governor Among Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, our countrymen still have much hope to hold on to.
Their victories happened when it seemed that the forces of evil were lording it over in our national government, as rampant graft and corruption became the norm in many of our democratic institutions.
More importantly, their victories had once again shown that if the Filipino people were united, we could overcome insurmountable odds. As soon as they assumed office, they wasted no time in delivering good governance and quality basic services to the Filipino people.
Among Ed’s efficient quarry tax collection program won for the province of Pampanga, the prestigious Gawad Galing Pook Award, while Padaca became the second local government official from our country to win the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, widely acknowledged to be the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize in Asia.
Yet, despite their many achievements and victories, they lost in the last elections — with their heads held high. During the campaign, while their opponents resorted to vote-buying and harassment, both of them took the moral high ground and not to do unethical means to attain victory.
Despite the fact that they are no longer in government, they still continue to go around the country and even abroad to talk to different groups about their experiences in promoting good governance and ethical leadership.
Like many Filipinos, I continue to hope and pray that we will wake up one day to a Philippines that is led by selfless Filipino leaders like Among Ed and Gov. Grace.
Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government. He is 2010 TOYM awardee for Public Education and Good Governance. Comments are welcome at email@example.com