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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Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership
Statement on the Resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez
Resignation is good but we still want justice
We, the leaders of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership welcome the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. We firmly believe that this is a major victory in the present administration’s fight against graft and corruption in our government. We hope that her resignation will pave the way for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to choose an ethical and impartial Ombudsman with a proven track record who will proactively prosecute corrupt government officials regardless of their political affiliation.
While her resignation is a positive development in our nation’s journey towards the righteous path, we continue to echo the call for justice of millions of Filipinos who are still waiting for the perpetrators of the various corruption scandals (such as the NBN-ZTE Deal and the Fertilizer Fund Scam) to be held accountable for their actions and/or inaction. In addition to this, we believe that Gutierrez should still be prosecuted for failing in her constitutionally-mandated duty to ensure that government leaders who engage in graft and corruption are brought to jail. An example of which is the 1 billion pesos Fertilizer Fund Scam wherein it took more than 5 years for her office to file charges against those who took part in it. As the wise saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.
Letting Gutierrez go without holding her accountable will send a wrong message that one can continue engaging in graft and corruption while in government and just resign to escape from any form of responsibility. This will only embolden corrupt government officials to continue to steal from our public coffers and deter more truth-tellers like Jun Lozada and Heidi Mendoza from surfacing.
Finally, while Gutierrez’s resignation is a victory for good governance in our country, we continue to call on every responsible and well-meaning Filipino to remain vigilant in our fight against government leaders who continue to abuse their power for their own personal gains. It is only through genuine people power that we can finally rid our political system of corrupt and inefficient government leaders that has continued to prevent millions of Filipinos from moving out of poverty.
Yariin na si Merci!
ni: Harvey S. Keh
Saludo ako sa ating mga kongresista sa kanilang mabilis na pag-aksyon sa hinaing impeachment laban kay Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Matagal na kasi dapat na inalis si Gutierrez sa kanyang puwesto dahil sa totoo lang ay sa halip na habulin ang mga kurakot na pinuno sa ating pamahalaan ay siya pa ang nangunguna sa pagbibigay ng proteksyon sa mga ito.
Para kasi sa mga hindi masyadong nakakaalam, ang trabaho ng ating Ombudsman ay ang pagbibigay parusa sa mga tiwaling pinuno ng ating pamahalaan kaya naman talagang nakakalungkot na si Gutierrez pa ang nangunguna sa pagbibigay proteksyon sa mga katulad nina dating AFP Comptroller Carlos Garcia, dating COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos at ang dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Tandaan natin na kaya malapit si Gutierrez sa nakaraang administrasyon ay bukod sa si dating Pangulong Arroyo ang naglagay sa kanya sa puwesto ay naging kaklase rin siya ni dating First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Usisain nating mabuti kung dapat nga bang matanggal na sa puwesto itong si Gutierrez.
Unang-una, naalala niyo pa ba ‘yung NBN-ZTE deal kung saan ibinulgar ni Jun Lozada at ni dating NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri na muntik nang mawalan ang ating bansa ng mahigit $300 milyon dahil sa pagtanggap ng suhol ni dating COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos?
Aba, pagkatapos ihain ang mga kaso sa opisina ni Gutierrez laban sa mga sangkot sa katiwaliang ito ay hanggang ngayon ay wala pa ring nakukulong.
Ganyan din ang nangyari sa pinatay na sundalong si Philip Pestaño kung saan mismo ang United Nations na ang nagsabi na hindi ito nagpakamatay gaya ng pinapalabas ng ating mga pinuno sa military.
Dahil dito naghain ang pamilya Pestaño ng demanda laban sa mga pinuno ng kanilang anak sa military ngunit gaya ng nangyari sa NBN-ZTE deal ay wala ring ginawa ang Ombudsman.
Ngayon naman ay naging malaking kontrobersya ang ginawang pagpapalusot sa kasong plunder kay Garcia dahil ayon sa grupo ni Gutierrez ay mahina raw ang kanilang mga ebidensya.
Mahina nga kaya? Eh mismo ang bansang Estados Unidos nga ang nakahuli sa pagpupuslit ng pamilya ni Garcia ng milyun-milyong piso papasok ng kanilang bansa! Kitang-kita sa mga kasong ito na pinapaboran talaga ni Gutierrez ang mga malalapit na kakampi ng nakaraang administrasyon kaya kahit mangurakot at magnakaw ang mga ito ng bilyun-bilyong piso ay hindi sila napaparusahan.
Habang kung ang isang pobreng ordinaryong mamamayan ay nahuling nagnanakaw ng isang kilong bigas para ipakain sa kanyang nagugutom na pamilya ay siguradong kulungan agad ang bagsak nito.
Dapat ay yariin na talaga si Gutierrez at huwag nating tantanan ang pagpapakita natin sa ating mga kinatawan sa Kongreso at sa Senado na ayaw na talaga nating manatili pa sa puwesto ang isang tiwaling opisyal na katulad ni Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
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