by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
THIS was the grade I gave President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in his first year in office when I was asked by reporters during last Sunday’s Balitaan sa Tinapayan media forum held in Manila. 85 is a mark that is neither too low nor too high for a president who has actually been at the forefront of our country’s fight against corruption but at the same time still needs some improvement in addressing other social problems. Let us be more objective and see what are the accomplishments of the Aquino administration and the issues that the President still needs to address after one year in office.
Victories and accomplishments
One of the major victories of this administration is the recent impeachment and subsequent resignation of former Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez, whom we all know is very close to the previous tenant of Malacañang. The resignation of Guttierez now paves the way for Aquino to pursue graft and corruption charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies. We hope that he would be able to make an objective, well thought of and impartial choice in appointing the next Ombudsman. Many Filipinos are still waiting for justice to be served to those who have taken part in corruption scams such as the NBN-ZTE broadband deal, fertilizer scam and the recently discovered rice scam wherein several thousands of tons of spoiled rice were found in the National Food Authority warehouse.
A good development has been the recent suspension of known Arroyo ally, former Congressman and current Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Head Prospero Pichay for graft charges related to his allowing the use of LWUA funds to purchase a rural bank in Laguna.
Another accomplishment of this administration is a more proactive PAG-ASA wherein the general public now receives hourly updates on the coming typhoons and weather disturbances. This has allowed many of our citizens and government offices to prepare early as can be seen during the recent typhoon Falcon wherein the residents of Marikina were evacuated properly before the Marikina river overflowed. PAG-ASA has also utilized new technology such as Twitter and other forms of social networking so that it can easily and quickly inform the public on its latest weather bulletins.
Aside from this, credit should also be given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) led by Sec. Dinky Soliman for always responding to disasters very quickly and efficiently. Soliman has been very visible in making sure that relief goods are distributed properly to those who need it the most and are not just given to those who have the right political connections.
In the field of transparency and public accountability, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) led by Sec. Butch Abad has been able to control the use of our congressmen and senators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), better known as the Pork Barrel. In the past administrations, the PDAF was a big source of corruption. It has been known to be used by our legislators for their personal expenses. Right now, the DBM has come up with a menu of projects and programs for which the PDAF can be used. This menu serves as a guide on where the money can be used and where it cannot be used. Our legislators are then asked to submit a breakdown of where they intend to use their PDAF which will then be approved by the DBM prior to it being released. With DBM doing this, gone are the days when the PDAF could be used by lawmakers and their families to travel abroad lavishly or to purchase luxury vehicles.
Transparency is also being advocated at the local government level wherein Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo has required all local government units to publish their budget and expenditures for their constituents to see.
Also at the DILG, there are now reforms in procurement being instituted at the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. For example, in the purchase of fire trucks, Robredo has required that a proper bidding process be followed unlike in the previous years wherein there was just one supplier whom the BFP bought the fire trucks from. The proper bidding requirement has enabled the BFP to purchase better equipped fire trucks and at the same time save more than P400 Million that could now be used to further modernize their life-saving equipment.
In the area of justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, the feisty and dynamic Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has made sure that the wheels of justice move towards the immediate resolution of this case. The Supreme Court has also allowed the live coverage of the trial so that the general public can easily follow what is transpiring as the trial progresses.
Areas still needing attention
Now let us look at some areas that need the immediate attention of our President. Up until now, jueteng and illegal gambling activities continue to thrive all over the country. If our government is sincere in eradicating all forms of bribery and corruption, the President should immediately order the leaders of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to work doubly hard in arresting this growing social menace. The effects of jueteng can be felt even more during elections wherein honest leaders often lose out to jueteng-supported candidates because of vote-buying and electoral fraud.
Many civil society and media groups are also waiting for the President to prioritize the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which he promised to do during the campaign. Passing the FOI Act sends a clear message to the Filipino people that this government has nothing to hide unlike in the previous administration where access to public information was always been curtailed. I hope that in the coming year, the President will make sure that these two major issues are addressed properly but nonetheless, we should always remember that our country’s future does not only rest in the hands of one Filipino but in each and every one of us.
Is our patience running out on PNoy?
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
LAST Monday, I was invited to speak and share my views about public education and good governance at a Rotary Club meeting in Makati. During that meeting some of the Rotarians expressed their disappointment with the performance of President Noynoy Aquino’s administration, particularly some members of the Cabinet.
One of them said that in the last six months, Aquino’s legal team and advisers led by Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa has made this administration look incompetent because of the flawed Executive Orders (EOs) that it has issued.
Another said that they haven’t seen any major results in the campaign promise of PNoy to curb graft and corruption especially in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. He further added that the major smugglers in our country are already public knowledge but our officials at the Department of Finance (DOF) seem to content themselves with just catching small fry. He cited that perhaps these smugglers of Chinese descent also contributed to the campaign of PNoy and that is why they continue to remain untouchable.
Finally, another one of them brought up again the issue of illegal gambling and jueteng which continues to thrive in the provinces due to the connivance of the gambling lords with our local chief executives and the officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Perhaps like these Rotarians, some of us are already beginning to lose our trust with PNoy and his administration but let us remember that PNoy inherited huge problems from a very corrupt regime that reigned in our country for nine years. If we expect our present administration to turn things around in less than a year then we will definitely be disappointed.
Personally, I’d like to see DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima put these big time smugglers behind bars since I believe that it is only by doing so that the President and his officials can show Filipinos and even the international community that they mean business. I have some friends in the business community who tell me that not much has changed in Customs even with this new administration. Many Customs officials are still able to earn millions every month due to the rampant bribery and corruption that happens within the institution. This is one of the major reasons why our country continues to lag behind compared to other Asian nations as a viable and attractive investment site.
I was able to personally bring this issue up with Purisima and he told me that they are already working with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to create sting operations that would catch these crooks. Purisima and his team have also set up Pera ng Bayan, an online portal where ordinary Filipinos can report about government officials who are currently engaged in graft and corruption.
Last December, I was able to also meet with DOF Undersecretary Carlo Carag and we decided that our organization, Kaya Natin, will work with the DOF to help educate the general public about how to spot a government official engaged in illegal activities. Let us hope that all these efforts by our DOF officials will eventually bear fruit because by eradicating graft and corruption, we will be able to help increase our government’s revenues. This increase can now go into funding more basic services such as improving our public health and public education systems.
With regard to jueteng and illegal gambling, it seems that the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is showing how inept they are in dealing with this growing social problem. Jueteng and those who run these operations are like white elephants in a room wherein everybody knows that they are there but everyone seems to turn a blind eye and pretend that they don’t see them. This is the case in Pampanga and Pangasinan where the PNP Provincial directors have time and again denied the presence of illegal gambling in their province but if you go around and ask the common folk, nine out of 10 will easily say that they are still very much thriving.
Whatever happened to the list of jueteng operators that Archbishop Oscar Cruz revealed in the Senate a few months ago? Has anyone of them been caught and prosecuted? If PNoy really wants to stamp out corruption, he should begin by cleaning up the ranks of the PNP whose leaders led by PNP Chief General Raul Bacalzo seem to have already been corrupted by the millions that these jueteng lords give them every month.
Many people have said that jueteng cannot be stopped but everyone knows that when Senator Ping Lacson was still PNP Chief, he was able to stop jueteng operations all over the country for more than a year. As the saying goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. In Tagalog it’s “Kung gusto may paraan, kung ayaw parating may dahilan.”
Does jueteng money reach all the way to Malacañang? I don’t think so but unless PNoy and his leaders at the PNP can do something about this soon, don’t be surprised if some people are already starting to think this way.
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This 2011 get involved with Good Governance
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
IT’S the start of another brand new year so despite all the challenges that continue to face our country, it would be good to share things that we can do to help in our government’s mission to chart the course of good governance and ethical leadership. Last 2008, the Ateneo School of Government together with DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and former Governors Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca launched the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership (KN). The movement aims to be a leadership sanctuary for effective, ethical and empowering leaders of our country and at the same time help educate ordinary Filipinos about the importance of good governance in their respective communities.
In fact, one of our first ever partners for KN was The Manila Times led by Dante “Klink” Ang and Rene Bas. The Times has always tried its best to cover the events of KN and share with the general public its programs and activities. Many colleges and universities have also invited KN and our Champions of Good Governance and Ethical Leadership to speak and share their inspiring stories with their students.
These are good example of how institutions and individuals can collaborate together in their own small ways to promote good governance in our country. As we have heard time and again, the government alone will not be able to solve our myriad of problems but through cooperation and synergy, genuine change and reforms can be easily attained in our country.
As we begin 2011, here are some ways that ordinary Filipinos can get involved with our programs and activities this year.
KN Karapatan at Kalusugan Kaya Natin Pangalagaan Program
Last November, we formally launched through the leadership of Marisa Lerias, Jess Lorenzo, Dr. Joey Montemayor and Fred Siy, the KN Karapatan at Kalusugan Kaya Natin Pangalagaan Program, which aims to provide indigent senior citizens with a free medical check-up and free medicines. However, unlike a typical medical mission, this program requires all the beneficiaries to undergo a seminar on good governance and responsible citizenship. During this said seminar, the beneficiaries are taught about their basic rights as senior citizens as well as how they can help in stamping our graft and corruption in their own small ways.
The first leg of the program was held in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija in cooperation with former Mayor Sonia Lorenzo while the second leg of the program was held in Baranggay Escopa 2, Quezon City in cooperation with Rep. Bolet Banal.
Our third leg will be held on January 22,2011 (Saturday) at Cabiao, Nueva Ecija in cooperation with Mayor Gloria “Baby” Congco.
We are currently looking for volunteer doctors and lawyers who can join us in our future events as well as generous donors who can sponsor the medicines that we donate to our beneficiaries.
KN anti-‘jueteng’ campaign
KN will also be launching an anti-jueteng campaign in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police. This anti-jueteng campaign aims to encourage ordinary Filipinos to report jueteng operations to a soon to be launched hotline and textline. This will allow KN to provide more leads to the DILG and PNP so as to assist them in trying to eradicate this social ill in our country.
Aside from this, KN is also working with other government agencies in developing an anti-corruption program that will aim to engage the general public so that perpetuators of graft and corruption can be caught and sent to jail. We are currently in need of volunteers who can help us in taking calls, documentation and to follow up the necessary government agencies that will be tasked to ensure that those who are caught in these illegal activities will be punished with the full force of the law.
Finally, KN believes that it is very essential that we elect the right leaders for our country but sadly, it seems that every election time, many Filipinos continue to vote for the wrong kinds of leaders. This is the reason why KN led by its youth arm is now in the process of developing modules on good governance and ethical leadership that will be used to educate more Filipinos about the roles and responsibilities of our government leaders.
Voters education for the 2013 elections should start now as we have seen that cramming during the election period does not often work. KN is also trying to work with other media organizations in trying to air infomercials that would help educate Filipinos about basic information about governance in our country. By making more Filipinos aware of how our government and its leaders should work, we can easily make our leaders accountable for their actions or lack of it.
Currently, we are in need of volunteer researchers, writers and speakers who can help us out with this program.
These are just some of the ways that Filipinos can easily get involved in our advocacy for good governance and ethical leadership in our country. Let us not wait for our government and its leaders to solve our problems for us, let us be part of the solution ourselves! If you would like to volunteer and help make a difference in our society this 2011, you can contact our office at (02) 434-1458 or you can also send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Comments are welcome at email@example.com . Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/harveykeh
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.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Jueteng’: national security issue
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—I cannot understand why President Aquino has time and again stated that the eradication of jueteng is not one of the top priorities of his administration.
If we look back to the last elections, jueteng played a crucial role in electing corrupt leaders, especially at the local level where vote-buying and fraud were rampant. Two of Aquino’s staunch allies and pillars of good governance in our country, Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, lost in their respective re-election bids due to the millions of pesos used by their opponents in the last May polls. It was no surprise that their opponents (Lilia Pineda and Faustino Dy) were actually tagged by known anti-jueteng crusader Archbishop Oscar Cruz as among the top jueteng lords in our country. I am sure that many other effective and ethical leaders like Panlilio and Padaca lost in the last elections because of jueteng money.
President Aquino may have also forgotten that it wasn’t too long ago that jueteng payola allegations eventually led to former President Joseph Estrada’s fall from power in 2001. Jueteng, if left unchecked, will become a serious national security issue that may eventually dictate the outcome of Philippine politics in the coming years, much like how narcopolitics has gained control of Mexico and Colombia.
Some pundits have said that the reason Aquino has refused to categorically declare a full-scale war against jueteng is that he is afraid he may not succeed in eradicating this decades-old societal ill. For the sake of our nation and his promise to bring us toward the “matuwid na daan,” I’m hoping that these pundits are wrong.
—HARVEY S. KEH,
Kaya Natin! Movemen for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership,
Jueteng lord for President?
By: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times
In his first few weeks in office, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd categorically stated that eradicating jueteng will be one of the least priorities of his administration. This statement raised many eyebrows particularly from the leaders of the Church and some of the political allies of Aquino in the Liberal Party such as former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca who lost in the last elections due to the billions of jueteng money which was used by their political opponents.
For a while Aquino probably thought that this issue would simply go away but just a few weeks ago, the growing problem of jueteng became a major test in his young administration after Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago both named DILG Usec. Rico Puno and former PNP Chief Jesus Versoza as protectors of jueteng lords. According to Cruz and Santiago, these two very close allies of Aquino who were receiving millions in protection money every week. Both have already denied any involvement in this illegal numbers game that continues to pervade our society most especially those belonging to the lower income strata. Yet, in a television interview, DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo mentioned that as early as the first week of August, he had already sent formal communications to Versoza and Puno telling them that there were already rumors linking both of them to jueteng and asking them to immediately resolve this issue before it gets out of hand. Did we see any action from Versoza and Puno? None. Why didn’t they do anything? Your guess is as good as mine.
Now, Aquino is left with a dilemma, while Puno is a very good friend and trusted ally, many are now calling on him to sack Puno not only due to these allegations of his involvement in jueteng but also because of his poor performance during the August 23 hostage crisis. The IIRC led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clearly pointed out that Puno and Versoza were among those who were found to have been lacking in their response to the hostage crisis. Some quarters are complaining that while Aquino sacked former Pagasa Director Prisco Nilo just after one strike, Puno it seems will not be relieved even if he already has two strikes, major ones at that. If I were Puno, I would save my good friend from this burden by at least taking an indefinite leave of absence until the jueteng investigations and operations are already resolved.
An unsolicited advice to Aquino would be to move Puno to another less sensitive department if he wants to continue to hold on to his friend. I am not one to second guess the President on why he continues to trust Puno but unless he shows people that he can hold his friends accountable for their actions, many Filipinos will eventually end up disappointed with this present administration.
For those who continue to ask why jueteng should be considered a national security issue, one can only look at the experience of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who was ousted from Malacañang due to allegations that he was on the take from jueteng lords. In the last elections, good and upright leaders like Panlilio and Padaca were both defeated due to the massive electoral fraud that happened in their provinces. These cheating machineries used by their opponents were funded by jueteng money thus, it was no longer surprising when Cruz revealed that current Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and current Isabela Rep. Pol Dy were among those who are being tagged as jueteng lords in their areas. I am sure that Panlilio and Padaca’s experience wasn’t isolated, as I believe there were many other good and deserving leaders who also lost to their jueteng lord-supported opponents. These experiences clearly show us how jueteng can influence our politics and put leaders who are corrupt into power. Now it’s jueteng, soon it will be illegal drugs and prostitution. We have seen the experience of Mexico and Columbia wherein drug cartels are now so influential that they are able to elect government leaders even in the national level. If we don’t resolve this growing problem of jueteng soon, we might wake up one day having a jueteng lord as our next senator, vice president or even president. Is this the kind of society that we want our children to grow up in? I hope not.
ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante
Hindi ako sang-ayon sa mga pahayag ng ilang mga pinuno natin na hindi ma laking problema ang dala ng jueteng o ilegal na mga pasugalan sa ating bansa. Nasabi ko ito sapagkat kung babalikan natin ang nakaraang halalan, ilan sa mga kandidatong nahalal ay dahil na rin sa laki ng perang ginastos nila upang bumili ng boto. Saan nanggaling ang perang iyon? Sa jueteng. Ilan mga kila lang pulitiko ang nabanggit ni Archbishop Oscar Cruz sa kanyang expose na ginawa noong Martes sa Senado, kabilang na riyan ang mga Pineda ng Pampanga at mga Dy ng Isabela na kapwa tumalo sa dalawang mabubuting pinuno na sina Among Ed Panlilio at Grace Padaca.
Sayang sina Panlilio at Padaca sapagkat maayos at tapat ang kanilang pag lilingkod sa kanilang mga kababayan ngunit dahil lamang sa ilang daang milyong piso na galing sa jueteng ay natalo sila sa halalan. Ilan pa kaya ang mga tulad nina Panlilio at Padaca na mabubuting mga pinuno na naging biktima ng katakut-takot na pandarayang ginawa nitong nakaraang halalan? Sayang ang mga pinunong ito sapagkat kung sila sana ang naupo ay siguradong magandang serbisyo ang maibibigay nila sa kanilang mga kababayan.
Kaya naman napakahalaga na mabigyang prayoridad ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino ang tuluyang pagsugpo sa lahat ng ilegal na pasugalan sa ating bansa. Nakakatakot isipin na puwede na lamang tayo magising isang umaga at makitang lahat ng ating mga pinuno ay nahalal dahil na rin sa perang bigay sa kanila ng mga jueteng lord. Huwag naman sana tayong maging isang bayan na hawak na sa leeg ng mga kriminal na ito dahil kapag nangyari ito, tuluyan nang mawawasak ang moralidad sa ating lipunan.
Alam naman nating lahat na kapag hinayaang manaig ang mga jueteng lord na ito ay hindi malayong mga drug lord naman ang susunod at sigu radong mamamayagpag na ang mga kriminal sa ating bayan. Ngayon pa lamang ay dapat pakinggan natin si Cruz at suportahan ang kanyang krusada laban sa jueteng.
Malaki ring pagkakataon ito para kay PNoy na ipakita sa ating lahat kung gaano siya katatag sa kanyang paninindigang sumunod at mamuno sa tuwid at tapat na landas. Matatandaan nating binanggit din ni Cruz ang malapit na kaibigan ni PNoy na si DILG Usec. Rico Puno bilang isa sa mga tumatanggap ng jueteng payola buwan-buwan. Bukod pa rito ay si Puno rin ang isa sa mga tinuro ng IIRC sa pamumuno ni DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima na malaki ang naging pagkukulang sa nangyaring hostage crisis noong Agosto 23 sa Quirino Grandstand. Mainam naman at may plano na nitong si Puno na magsumite ng kanyang courtesy resig nation kay PNoy, ngunit ang tanong ay tatanggapin kaya ito ni PNoy? Dito natin makikita kung anong klaseng pinuno talaga si PNoy at kung kaya ba niyang disiplinahin ang kanyang mga alipores kahit pa ito ay isang malapit na kaibigan.
Malaki pa rin ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa pamumuno ni PNoy ngunit sana ay huwag naman niyang sayangin ang tiwalang ito at ang magandang panga lang iniwan sa kanya ng kanyang mga magulang dahil lamang sa pagbibigay ng proteksyon sa kanyang mga malalapit na kaibigan.
Para sa inyong mga komento, mag-text sa 0919-9575444.
by: Harvey S. Keh, T
It’s been a month now since the August 23 hostage fiasco at the Quirino Grandstand. Much time, effort and energy from our government leaders and their respective agencies have been exhausted these past weeks to ensure that a thorough investigation on the matter is conducted. Last Friday, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), tasked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to spearhead the investigation into this sad incident, has already finished its report and has officially recommended that administrative and/or criminal charges be filed against 13 police officers, government officials and media personalities. Hopefully, Aquino will be able to quickly act on these recommendations so that our country can finally move on from this tragic incident. The sooner we move on, the better for all of us since there are so many problems that the present administration currently faces. These problems include the continuing growth in poverty, the lack of good job opportunities here in the Philippines and the declining state of public health.
Aside from filing the necessary charges and punishing those who failed to fulfill their duties, a thorough investigation should also be done in terms of the rampant graft and corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP). Necessary charges have to be filed against police officials who are found to have used their power and position to enrich themselves. As Vince Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network so aptly explained, corruption isn’t just stealing funds from government, but it is using one’s public office for private gain. I cringe at the thought of Aquino giving former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa another position in the government, since all of us have seen how inept he was in handling the hostage crisis. For those who don’t know yet, Verzosa left Manila at 3 p.m., in the middle of the hostage crisis, to go to Cagayan de Oro. I dare ask Verzosa what could be more important in Cagayan de Oro that he would need to leave the scene of a hostage crisis with huge international implications to our country? It is no wonder that the PNP continues to be ill-prepared for situations such as these because it is run by leaders who cop out when the going gets tough.
I believe that there are still many ordinary police officers who continue to render good and ethical public service to the Filipino people, but as DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo correctly pointed out in the IIRC hearings, these police officers are often sent out to crime situations without the necessary training and equipment. This was clearly seen in the last hostage crisis, where we saw members of the Manila Police District SWAT team assaulting the tourist bus without the necessary bullet-proof vests and explosive devices that would’ve helped in defusing the situation. I heard a report that if you check the budget and expenses of the PNP, you would see that they would rather put millions of pesos into renovating and improving their swimming pool rather than buying the necessary equipment needed by the police force. The admirable courage and bravery shown by many of our policemen can only get them so far if they are not given proper training and equipment.
We should also ask these police officials, especially Verzosa, how come jueteng has continued to thrive during his time as PNP chief. It took another big revelation for Archbishop Oscar Cruz to force the PNP to get its act together and try its darnest best to curb jueteng all over the country. As early as the first week of August, Robredo, a noted anti-jueteng advocate, already wrote a formal letter to Verzosa and DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Rico E. Puno, asking them to immediately address this problem; but after more than a month, nothing has happened. Why is that? Does this mean that Verzosa and Puno are also on the take in this illegal numbers game? Your guess is as good as mine.
Aksyunan mo na PNoy!
Ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante
Suportado ng grupo naming Kaya Natin! ang malakas na panawagan ni Archbishop Oscar Cruz na gumalaw na ng husto ang pamahalaang Aquino upang tuluyan nang masugpo ang laganap na jueteng sa ating bansa. Malaki ang naging epekto ng pera na dala ng illegal na gawaing ito sa ilan naming mga kasamahan katulad nina Among Ed Panlilio ng Pampanga at Gob. Grace Padaca ng Isabela na kapwa naging biktima ng pandaraya nitong nakaraang halalan dahil na rin sa malaking pera na galing sa jueteng. Hindi mo rin naman masisi ang karamihan na ating mga kababayang kapit tuko na sa kahirapan kaya naman nila ipinagbili ang kanilang mga boto para lamang sa ilang daang piso. Dahil sa laki ng impluwensiya ng pera na galing sa mga jueteng lord marami talagang mabubuti at tapat na mga pinuno sa ating pamahalaan ang natatalo o nahihirapang manalo tuwing eleksyon. Ang talagang talo rito ay ang ating mga kababayan na kailangan magdusa sa ilang taong palpak at kurakot na pamumuno dahil na rin sa pagbebenta nila ng kanilang boto. Hindi tuloy kataka-taka na hanggang ngayon ay patuloy pa ring naghihirap ang karamihan sa atin kahit na naka ilang daang pangako na tuwing halalan ang ating mga pinuno.
Sana hindi lamang mauwi sa moro-moro na naman ang mga imbestigasyon sa Senado. Tiwala ako na dahil ang kasamahan namin sa Kaya Natin na si Senador TG Guingona III ang siyang mamumuno sa imbestigasyon ay siguradong may kahihinatnan at ibubunga itong mabuti para sa tuluyang pagsugpo ng jueteng sa ating bayan. Ngunit sa totoo lang, kahit ilang imbestigasyon at hearing pa ang ipatawag ng ating Senado, kung hindi naman determinado ang ating Presidente na ipahinto ang jueteng ay wala rin namang mangyayari. Nasa kamay ni President Noynoy Aquino kung magkakaroon siya ng tapang at lakas ng loob upang pataubin ang mga jueteng lord o baka naman maging katulad lamang siya ng nakaraang mga administrasyon na wala ring nagawa laban sa problemang ito. Kung ako sa kanya, ipapa imbestiga ko kaagad kung sino nga ba ang mga binanggit ni Cruz na mga malapit na kaibigan at kakampi niyang sangkot dito sa jueteng. Kahit malapit pa siyang kaibigan ay dapat siyang alisin dahil hindi ito ang tuwid na landas na ipinangako sa atin ni PNoy noong kampanya.
Sana ay mag-isip din ng mabuti si PNoy bago niya bigyan ng bagong puwesto sa ating pamahalaan si dating PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa na umalis noong kalagitnaan nang hostage crisis noong Agosto 23 at wala ring nagawa sa jueteng noong siya pa ang namumuno sa kapulisan. Ganito bang klase ng mga pinuno ang nais ni PNoy na ilagay sa ating gobyerno? Hindi na yata tuwid na landas ang tinatahak ni PNoy kung puro palpak at tiwali ang inilalagay niya sa kanyang pamahalaan. Tandaan natin na kung walang jueteng, malaki ang mababawas sa ating mga corrupt na pinuno at kung walang mga corrupt, walang mga mahirap!
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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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