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.
Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
02 May 2011
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL
2nd Floor, Centennial Bldg., Supreme Court
Padre Faura, Manila
Gentlemen and Mesdames:
Greetings of God’s peace and love!
In line with the President’s thrust to appoint dedicated and courageous person to the Office of the Ombudsman, allow me to recommend ATTY. ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR.
I believe in Atty. Francisco’s competence and dedication not only as a lawyer but as a civic-minded citizen. On several occasions, he has come forward to expose questionable transactions in government such as the NBN-ZTE deal and the C-5 extension road scandals to name a few. He has representedvarious sectors in fighting for their rights such as the SLEX/NLEX toll fee increase, MMDA offensive footbridge designs, and others. And in all of these, he has come forward at great risk to himself and at his own personal expense.
He is not a member of any political or non-political organization which might compromise future decisions, should he be appointed as the next Ombudsman. In the past, he has filed for the impeachment of then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and assailed the unconstitutional impeachment case filed against then Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.
I have confidence in his competence, integrity, dedication, fairness, and passion to serve, the same virtues which I believe are the foremost qualifications of the next holder of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Very truly yours,
EDDIE T. PANLILIO
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.
Will PNoy have the numbers in the Senate?
By: Harvey S. Keh
It is no longer the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that is perceived to be the most corrupt government institution in our country. The Pulse Asia Survey released this week shows that 48.9% of Filipinos perceive the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the most corrupt government institution in our country. This is not surprising given the extensive media coverage that has been given to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings that have probed into the ill gotten wealth of former military leaders, Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot.
One major reason why graft and corruption has thrived and still continues to thrive in our government is the fact that the wheels of justice has been very slow in watching up with perpetuators like Garcia and Ligot. It is supposed to be the duty of our Ombudsman to ensure the swift prosecution of government officials that are found to be engaging in unscrupulous acts but we can clearly see that the present Ombudsman only moves at a fast pace when it concerns cases which are filed against the allies of President Noynoy Aquino. Cases of government officials that are supportive of the previous Arroyo administration are often left unattended or are dismissed altogether. No wonder surveys have also shown that majority of Filipinos have grown frustrated with our Ombudsman and are now clamoring for her resignation. This was clearly seen when the House of Representatives despite much pressure exerted by leaders of the Iglesia ni Cristo, voted overwhelmingly to impeach our Ombudsman.
Now the ball is in the Senate’s court as they will begin to convene themselves into an impeachment court with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile serving as the main presiding officer while the other senators will serve as the judges. Unlike in the House of Representatives where the impeachment was easily passed, it is expected that the allies of President Aquino will find it harder to convict Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez since they will need to convince 16 Senators to support the impeachment complaint. Let us look at the current numbers in the Senate and see if PNoy will have enough support to finally oust the Ombudsman from her post.
Looking at the present composition of the Senate, we can most likely expect 8 sure votes for the conviction of the Ombudsman. This will come from the Liberal Party’s Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan and Ralph Recto. Another four votes are expected from well-known close allies of President Aquino namely, Francis Escudero, Serge Osmeña, Antonio Trillanes and Ping Lacson, who has resurfaced this week.
Allies of the Ombudsman
Perceived to be on the side of Ombudsman Guttierez are well-known allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo namely, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla. I hope that Senator Arroyo will eventually have a change of heart so he can finally live up to his campaign promise (“Kung Bad Ka, Lagot ka!) of fighting for justice and what is right in our society. Senator Defensor-Santiago has always been known to be independent minded so even if she is always associated with the past administration, I wouldn’t be so sure of her vote until it is finally cast. Senator Revilla is currently the President of LAKAS-Kampi so it would be safe to assume that he vote in support of the Ombudsman.
APECO will be key
With this situation, the swing votes would clearly come from three other factions in the Senate. The first group is the Angara wing which is comprised of Senators Edgardo Angara, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Loren Legarda. The main interest of this group is the highly contested Aurora Pacific Economic Zone which up until now is being alleged as an Angara family cash cow by several church and civil society groups. These groups have also said that APECO has not done proper consultation among the different stakeholders in the area. President Aquino has not been warm to the proposal of supporting APECO and this may be one of the bargaining chips that this group will be using during this impeachment trial. For Zubiri and Legarda who will undoubtedly be running for re-election this coming 2013, they know the importance of this impeachment proceeding in bolstering their chances to win. If they see that the sentiment of the majority continues to be against the Ombudsman then this may ultimately sway them to vote against her. This is the reason why I believe that public pressure will be very important in determining the outcome of this landmark event in our nation’s history.
Villar and the Nacionalista Party
The next faction is the Villar-led Nacionalista Party group which is comprised of Senator Manny Villar, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Pia Cayetano. This is a very influential group in this impeachment trial since if this group decides to side with the perceived allies of the Ombudsman, it will already be impossible for the allies of President Aquino to muster the needed 16 votes. Like Zubiri, a factor here would be the upcoming 2013 elections wherein Senator Alan Peter Cayetano would be running for re-election. Cayetano has always positioned himself as an anti-Arroyo crusader and he knows too well that if he votes in the wrong way in this impeachment trial, he may as well kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.
Finally, we have the group associated closely with former President Erap Estrada which is comprised of Enrile, Senator Tito Sotto, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Gringo Honasan. This is also the group which holds the leadership in the Senate. Senator Enrile will only be allowed to vote in cases where there is a tie. Unlike the previous two factions, this group will most likely side with the allies of President Aquino in this impeachment trial. Estrada has always been an anti-Arroyo critic in the Senate and was in fact one of the more active participants in the recent Senate hearings which probed anomalies in the AFP. Meanwhile, Honasan is also finishing his term in 2013 and will no doubt want to ensure that he will be re-elected.
Looking at this short analysis and with the 2013 elections clearly on the horizon, I believe that the key in this impeachment trial will be the general public. This will become a public relations war between the two camps because the group of Ombudsman Guttierez fully know that if public pressure against her keeps up then like what happened in the House of Representatives, her chances of keeping her post will be next to nil. After all, as we have always heard during the hearings at the House of Representatives, an impeachment is a democratic political process where the rule of majority whether perceived to be fair or not is what wins out.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Really, how influential is the INC?
By: Harvey S. Keh
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III must be very happy with how this week is turning out for him. The recent Pulse Asia survey showed that while his trust rating has dipped a bit, it still remains very high considering that many were expecting a big drop after his first few months in office. Another huge victory for his administration has been the resounding impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez at the House of Representatives. Many people expected the Ombudsman to be impeached but not by 212 congressmen which is more than double the required 94 votes to impeach Guttierez. This goes to show how much PNoy has grown stronger politically especially within the House of Representative where many people thought would be a battleground between him and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. More importantly, I think our leaders in the House of Representatives really saw the growing public disgust with Guttierez which eventually persuaded them to support the impeachment despite pressures from other influential groups allied with the former President.
Days are numbered
With the impeachment of Guttierez, it looks like the happy days of former President Arroyo are numbered especially now that the allies of PNoy have shown that they have complete control of the House of Representatives. Many observers believe that by taking our Guttierez, the cases filed against the former President will now be able to progress. These cases on graft and corruption such as the Fertilizer Scam and the NBN-ZTE Broadband deal are part of the articles of impeachment that will now be forwarded to the Senate. This is certainly good news for many Filipinos who have waited for so long to get to finally know the truth and are longing for justice. Yet, it is still premature to celebrate given that the Senate will still hold a trial to determine whether or not Guttierez is guilty of betrayal of public trust. Let us remember that we will need at least 16 Senators to vote to be able to oust Guttierez from her post. I am sure that the allies of Arroyo will move heaven and earth just to ensure that they will be able to convince at least 7 Senators to side with them. If this happens, Arroyo and Guttierez may actually have the last laugh. It is imperative that public pressure is sustained so we can show our Senators that we want and need a new Ombudsman.
Influence of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)?
As early as Friday last week, reliable sources from the House of Representatives told me that the influential church group, Iglesia ni Cristo or INC has been calling up Congressmen to persuade them not to support the impeachment against Guttierez. This is also the reason why some leaders of the Liberal Party weren’t very confident in getting more than 120 votes from the House of Representatives. Although 120 votes is more than enough to impeach, it would have been a flawed victory if majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted in support of the Ombudsman. Insiders have said that the reason why INC was trying to wield its influence is because PNoy refused several favors that they have asked from him. Whether this is true or not, I think the impeachment vote last Monday clearly showed their waning influence in our political landscape.
Although I have good friends who are members of the INC, I still cannot understand how their leaders decide to choose which candidates to support during election time. Being a religious group, I would like to believe that they would be bastions of moral, ethical and righteous governance yet in the last elections, they actually supported candidates that are known to perpetuate graft and corruption as well as illegal activities.
In Quezon City , they supported the candidacy of one of Arroyo’s staunchest supporters, former Rep. Mat Defensor who was defeated by our Kaya Natin! Champion of Good Governance, current Rep. Bolet Banal. If one would recall, it was Defensor who ensured that Arroyo would be protected from impeachment and from any kind of investigation when she was still President. Why would INC support someone who does not support transparency and public accountability? Why would INC support someone who continued to deprive the truth from the public? Both known icons of good governance, Among Ed Panlilio of Pampanga and Grace Padaca of Isabela also did not get the support of INC in the last elections. Instead, INC supported their opponents who are well-known operators of jueteng and illegal logging activities in their respective provinces. These kinds of choices would make you wonder whether the leaders of the INC is teaching the right set of values and principles to its members. As the saying goes, actions always speak louder than words.
I think PNoy knows too well that it wasn’t the INC or any single organization that brought him to the highest post in our land but it was genuine people power. Thus, unlike the previous tenant of Malacañang he hasn’t given in to their demands for lucrative government posts or contracts. This is the reason perhaps why the INC decided to try to throw a “tantrum” and try to show the President how influential they still are. Well, if we base their influence on the recent impeachment proceedings, then clearly PNoy has nothing at all to worry about.
Comments are welcome at email@example.com .
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.
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.
Para sa inyong mga komento, mag-text sa 0919-9575444.
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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