Good governance, education: Fuels for a better future
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
Over the weekend, the Ate-neo de Manila University-School of Government and the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership organized a leadership training program for local government officials from all over Luzon. The program, titled Champions for Education, was aimed at helping local government officials become more adept at addressing key problems in basic education among their constituents. Our main partner for this activity was SEAOIL whose company slogan, Fueling a Better Future, was certainly in line with what we wanted to achieve in this program which is to help build a better future for every Filipino child by providing them with access to quality basic education.
Through the support of SEAOIL, the program will also be brought to the Visayas this coming December and in Mindanao in February 2012.
Rice for education program
The keynote speaker for the training program was no less than Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo who in his 18 years as Mayor of Naga City made sure that education was a priority in his local government unit (LGU). Robredo shared several best practices with the participants of the program, most of whom were city and municipal mayors who were very eager to learn about these best practices that they could also implement in their own LGUs.
Robredo shared that one of the things that he did was to provide sacks of rice to families whose children are able to complete their attendance in school. This would discourage families from forcing their children to drop out of school since by keeping them there, this would already assure that the family would have adequate supply of rice every month. Robredo also added that this would also augur well politically since those that you gave rice to will not forget the help that you gave them through the years and thus, they will then vote for you to ensure that the program will continue.
Ensuring people participation in education
In addition to this, Robredo also emphasized the need to consult parents with regard to the needs of their children. He cited an example in which the school principal came up to him and asked for funds to renovate their covered courts but upon hearing this, a parent said that perhaps it would be good to use the funds to buy science books first before renovating the covered courts. With this experience in mind, Robredo then decided to reinvent the Local School Board in Naga City.
The LSB is co-chaired by the Mayor and the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Schools Division Superintendent. The main function of the LSB is to allot the Special Education Fund (SEF) which should be used to augment the DepEd’s budget to help improve the public schools. Most of the time, it is only the mayor who decides on how the SEF is to be used. In practice the SEF is often used to buy basketball uniforms and to organize sports events instead of using it to address the real needs of the schools which are books and other educational materials.
Robredo made sure that his SEF would be well spent by making sure that different stakeholders in the community such as the parents and teachers would be heard on how and where to spend the city’s SEF. Through people’s participation and proper consultation, the needs of the students are identified and addressed properly. The result is every year the national achievement test scores of the students of Naga City have consistently increased while the drop out rates have been minimized. These are done through transparency, participatory leadership and governance innovations that were introduced by Robredo.
Slow pace of Justice
Just last week, we read about the news of the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian priest that known to have been a staunch advocate of promoting the rights of the indigenous peoples. While there is still much debate on why Fr. Tentorio was killed, what is really important right now is to ensure that the perpetuators of this heinous crime be immediately caught and punished with the full force of the law.
If there is one thing that has been a constant eyesore of our country in the eyes of the international community, it has been the very slow pace of justice here. The Maguindanao massacre is now two years old and yet, no one among those that have committed this gruesome act has been convicted and put to jail. Up until now, the killers of Dr. Gerry Ortega are still on the loose while just recently, Roy Bagtikan Gallego, a radio announcer from Surigao del Sur was gunned down on his way to his radio program. These extrajudicial killings will continue to grow unless our government will ensure that our law enforcement agencies immediately work on catching these criminals and our judicial bodies be swift to render justice to them.
This can only be done if corruption is minimized if not totally eradicated in our judiciary which up until now is still highly influenced by those who have power and money. Many of these hired killers continue to have the courage to go on with their unlawful actions because they know that they can get away with it. Enough with the bold statements and promises to curb criminality. The only way our government can instill discipline in each and every Filipino is to show all of us that crime does not pay by placing these criminals behind bars permanently where they belong.
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Good appointments by PNoy
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
LAST week, the Asia Society-Philippines held it’s Asia 21-Philippines Young Leaders Forum at the Meralco Management Leadership Development Center (MMLDC) in Antipolo. The forum gathered the nine chosen young leaders who will represent our country in the upcoming Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in New Delhi, India.
Our theme for this year’s forum was “Heroes meeting Heroes” in tribute as well to the 150th birth anniversary of our great national hero, Jose Rizal.
The nine young leaders who were chosen were Mayor Doy Leachon of Calapan City, Solvie Nubla of Ateneo de Manila’s Pathways to Higher Education, Doris Dumlao of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, well-recognized independent filmmaker Mike Sandejas, Alvin Dakis of the Alliance of Young Heath Advocates, Atty. Lesley Cordero of the Presidential Communications Group, Jeffrey Tarayao of the Meralco Foundation, Annalie Edday of Synergeia Foundation and Anya Lim of the ANTHILL Fabric Gallery.
What makes a hero?
During the forum, Prof. Winnie Monsod of the UP School of Economics stressed the need for our country to produce more modern day heroes especially among the younger generation of leaders. She mentioned that heroes are ordinary people who are able to go beyond themselves to do extraordinary things for a greater cause. Aside from this, Monsod also stressed that heroism also entails sacrifice and going beyond our comfort zone to give service to those who need it the most.
One should also not expect anything in return for being of service to others because once you begin to think about what you will get in return then it becomes a self-serving deed which is no longer heroic in nature.
Lessons in leadership and heroism
The Asia 21 Philippines’ fellows also had the unique chance to have a dialogue with two modern-day Filipino heroes of our country, Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto and DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo. Meloto and Robredo are both former recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award which is widely acknowledged to be the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize in Asia.
Meloto stressed the importance of being able to sustain the hero within you by having a clear vision of what you want to achieve for the good of others. It is his passion. He also advised the fellows that the best way to respond to your detractors is to just continue to do good without asking for anything in return. Moreover, he emphasizes that when one does not desire power, he gains the trust of the powerful and that trust becomes a very important tool in pushing for our advocacies and our causes. He concludes by challenging the fellows to demand from themselves to become heroes and to use their talents and skills to help those who have been left behind by our society.
For his part, Robredo enjoined the young leaders to continue to surround themselves with good people who can share their passion to do good for our country. He also said that leaders must always learn to consult with his or her followers since by doing this the leader is able to make the whole organization own the decision thereby making everyone accountable for it. Finally, Robredo says that our government alone will not be able to solve the problems of our society, it needs an active citizenry who will also do their own share in nation-building.
Up until now, I still cannot understand the decision of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to renege on his promise to make the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill a priority measure of his administration. I hope he will eventually come around to see how important this piece of legislation is in terms of promoting greater transparency and public accountability in our government.
On the more happier side, I am very happy that he has appointed two competent and upright leaders in the government: former Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta as Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, with Cabinet rank, and former Bulacan Gov. Josie Dela Cruz as Postmaster-General and President of PhilPost.
Acosta has always been known to be one of the country’s top environmentalists and is actually the author of two landmark environmental laws in our country, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. I hope Acosta will eventually become Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. I will go out on a limb and say that he will definitely do a much better job than the one who is currently in that position.
I have previously worked with Dela Cruz in our education reform programs at Synergeia Foundation and Pathways to Higher Education. I have always looked up to her as one of my mentors in being a competent, effective and empowering leader. One thing for sure is that she has her heart in the right place when it comes to being of service to our country.
Under her leadership, Bulacan become one of the top performing provinces in education and she was also instrumental in making the products of her province world-class. Bulacan’s loss is the country’s great gain but I am sure that Dela Cruz will still continue to serve her province even if she is no longer the local chief executive there. PhilPost is very privileged to have Dela Cruz as their leader, I am sure that she will be able to revitalize the organization so that it can continue to deliver good services to the Filipino people. Kudos to President Aquino for making these very good appointments in our government!
One million signatures
The Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership led by our co-founders, Among Ed Panlilio, DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, are supporting the One Million Signature campaign launched by the Justice for Dr. Gerry Ortega Movement.
It’s been more than 8 months now since Ortega was brutally murdered and up until now, the mastermind of the said crime remains at large. Strong evidence points to former Gov. Joel Reyes as the brains behind the crime but despite this, the Department of Justice exonerated Reyes and the owner of the gun used to kill Ortega. Clearly, an injustice has happened here and we cannot just sit down and do nothing.
If you wish to sign and support our campaign for justice, please visit http://www.ramatak.net. Let us all remember that evil will prevail if good men choose to do nothing!
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