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!
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
PNoy and the Filipino youth
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines — Now that the first year in office of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is over, many people have given their own views about whether or not the President has been able to fulfill his promises.
Let us look at some of them and how the affect young Filipinos.
• Public-private partnership in education. One of the main advocacies of the Aquino administration has been to engage in public-private partnerships in implementing its programs.
In the field of helping improve the quality of our public school system, the Department of Education (DepEd), led by Sec. Armin Luistro, has continued to attract private sector partners such as Jollibee Foundation, Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), and Synergeia Foundation.
Jollibee Foundation continues to expand its feeding program for malnourished public elementary school students all over the country while ACED is now partnering with Singapore’s Temasek Foundation to provide intensive training to public school teachers and principals all over the country. Synergeia has been focusing its efforts towards implementing a comprehensive reading program for public schools in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
When the private and public sector work together, big things can happen and that is what we are seeing now in our education sector.
• Social media for social change. Recently, a Facebook fundraising campaign was initiated by Jay Jaboneta and Anton Mari Lim to raise funds to build boats that would bring school children from far flung areas in Zamboanga to their schools. I believe that they have already raised enough funds to already build four boats. Before this, students had to swim several hundred meters just to be able to reach their schools!
This experience has shown that social media can be used to bring about solutions to our country’s social problems and more importantly, it shows that there are still many Filipinos from all over the world who are more than willing to do their own small share in contributing to nationbuilding.
For those who want to donate to this cause, you can visit their Facebook group entitled, Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids.
• Ratings upgrade means more jobs. There is an increase in confidence in our country given by investment rating agencies such as S&P and Moody’s.
These international rating agencies have upgraded their forecast for our country and this will help attract more foreign investments to our country, provide more job opportunities to young Filipinos especially to those who just finished their college education.
According to these agencies, they gave a higher rating to the Philippines because they saw the commitment of the present administration in stamping out graft and corruption which have been a major deterrent in attracting investors.
By having more jobs available here in our country, Filipinos will no longer need to go abroad and leave their families behind in order for them to seek better employment opportunities.
What can young people do?
Despite all the good news and accomplishments, we still have a long way to go towards eradicating poverty and putting an end to our social ills. Young Filipinos have to realize that it is their future that is at stake in the next few years.
Our neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and now even Vietnam have begun to emerge as tiger economies in Asia with many of their citizens now enjoying a better quality of life.
Young Filipinos can do their own share in helping move our country forward by being proactive and responsible citizens who take part in volunteer programs that address particular problems in education, health, governance and the environment.
There are many groups that provide opportunities to be involved such as Pathways to Higher Education, Habitat for Humanity, Gawad Kalinga and our Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.
Harnessing the use of social media by sharing inspiring Filipino stories will also help in promoting here and abroad that there are so many good things that is happening in our country.
We have been used to all the negative news that pervades our media that we often forget that we have so many inspiring stories of hope that showcase the heroism in our people.
Finally, young Filipinos should choose not to become apathetic by making an effort to be informed and involved in our country’s state of affairs.
Being informed is the first step towards being active. If every Filipino will do his own small share to help the country, it won’t be long before we are able to achieve our goal of a prosperous Philippine society.
Little Mozart on Studio 23
I was particularly pleased to see that Studio 23 has decided to air a TV program entitled ”Little Amadeus” which features the boyhood adventures and musical life of the great composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This animated
series entertains and educates children between the ages of four and eight years old about music and inspires them to make their own music. The stories revolve around his family, friends and performances and also involve the intrigues of his rival, Devilius, who along with a talking rat, Monti, attempt to discredit the Mozarts in the eyes of various nobles. This worthwhile and educational program airs every Sunday morning, 8 a.m. over Studio 23.
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Reforms should come faster
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
THE recent SWS Survey showed once again a dip in the satisfaction rating of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III or PNoy as he is called. In March 2011, he had a net satisfaction rating of +51 percent or as SWS would call it “very good” but in the recent survey results, his satisfaction rating has dipped further to +46 percent or “good.” Is this an alarming trend for the President? I don’t think so. I believe that this is expected given that PNoy started with a very high rating during the start of his term last year. I also believe that given all the current problems such as rising electricity costs, oil prices and food prices that are being faced by the country, it is not surprising that many Filipinos especially among the lower income class have started to become unsatisfied with the leadership of PNoy.
Are these problems the fault of our government? Partly yes and partly no. Partly yes because many of these problems is still a result of a lack of vision among our leaders on where our country will be headed in the coming years. If these is a clear cut vision and direction, proper planning can be done in terms of ensuring food security and providing for a business and investor friendly environment.
It is not entirely the government’s fault because some issues like the rising oil prices are really a global phenomenon that don’t only affect our country. Given these scenarios, the present administration needs to be more decisive in its actions and it will also need to ensure that it gets the right people to lead the different agencies that will help solve these social problems in our country.
Curb rising costs
I recently had an interesting meeting with an officer of a multi-national company based in Japan. He told me that his company wanted to invest in the Philippines and set up a multi-billion peso factory here but they decided against it due to the country’s very high cost of electricity. The Philippines has the second highest electricity cost in the whole of Asia, next only to Japan. Moreover, he also said that given the continued rise in our minimum wage, we will also have a hard time competing against countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India and China whose electricity and labor costs are way lower compared to ours.
If you look at the experience of countries that have modernized and moved out of poverty, their main strengths have really been their vibrant manufacturing industries. Manufacturing provides millions of jobs to the people and it is an effective way of being able to spread the wealth equally. If our government is able to address these rising costs that deter setting up factories and manufacturing operations here, it would be easier for us to attract more foreign investments given that Filipinos are also known worldwide for their good work ethic.
Invest in agriculture development
One major reason why our minimum wage is very high compared to other countries is also partly due to the high cost of food especially in urban areas. A major reason for this is the lack of infrastructure in the provinces such as farm to market roads that would allow farmers to directly bring their crops to the market without having to go through your normal middlemen. This direct access to the market would not only benefit the consumer but this will also help increase the income of our farmers. Right now, many areas in our country are still being controlled by the middlemen who are the ones who buy the crop from the farmers at a very cheap price then go on to sell it to the consumers at a much higher price. In this kind of set-up, the only person that has benefitted much is the middleman and not the farmer nor the consumer.
There is also a need to invest in drying facilities especially for rice producing provinces such as Nueva Ecija and Isabela. These facilities would also help our farmers to ensure that they are able to maximize their crops since wastage will be minimized. By prioritizing agriculture development, we will no longer need to import rice and there will now be a higher supply of food in our country. Higher supply would mean lower prices which would be beneficial to every Filipino. If food and electricity prices are lowered then there will no longer be a need for us to always increase the minimum wage of our workers.
Reforms in Customs
If there is one agency that hasn’t changed much in the present administration, it seems to be the Bureau of Customs (BoC) where everything seems to be business as usual. Many businessmen have come up to me lamenting that officials of this agency have continued with their merry ways of extorting and harassing legitimate businesses in our country. It seems that although Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and BoC Commissioner Lito Alvarez are serious in cleaning up this place, there are still many well entrenched people in this agency that continue to resist change. If the present administration is really serious about eradicating graft and corruption as well as promoting our country as a business friendly environment, they can begin by revamping this agency and putting in good, honest and upright people who will ensure that transactions are done above board and in a transparent manner.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robredo deserves post—youth leader
|Philippine Daily Inquirer|
I AM appealing to President Aquino to give his full trust and confidence to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo by appointing him in a permanent capacity to his post and submitting his name to the Commission on Appointments (CA) for confirmation.In the past six months that Secretary Robredo has been in office, he has been able to live up to the campaign promise of President Aquino: “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap.” Proof of this is his effort to promote greater transparency and public accountability among local government units all over our country by directing them to publish their budgets and expenditures for their constituents to see. As an advocate of genuine people empowerment, he has also helped open up our government to partnerships with various civil society organizations, private sector groups and foundations that are currently helping deliver better basic services to marginalized sectors in our society.
As ex-officio chairman of the National Police Commission, he has also been proactive in cleaning up the ranks of the Philippine National Police by suspending more than 100 rogue cops from service. Regarding the recent spate of car thefts, he has worked well with PNP Chief Gen. Raul Bacalzo in apprehending the suspects behind the murder of car dealer Venson Evangelista. He was able produce concrete results in less than a week, which goes to show how effective he is as a leader.
Clearly, he is one of the better-performing Cabinet secretaries of the present administration and we definitely deserve more leaders like him. Thus, I sincerely believe that he deserves nothing less than the full trust and confidence of President Aquino.
—HARVEY S. KEH,
director for youth leadership and social entrepreneurship,
Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government,
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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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
Pilipinas, Kay Ganda!
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
We have often gotten used to the bad news and stories in our country that has often covered the front pages of our newspapers and the headlines of our TV News programs. Yet, in the past several weeks, there have been several good stories that are worth noting and celebrating. These good stories make us realize that there is so much to hope for in our country and more importantly, they show that the Filipino can compete with the best in the world.
One of them is the announcement by international business groups that our country is now at the top of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry overtaking India in this sector. The BPO industry is one of our economy’s growth drivers since it provides thousands of jobs to Filipinos and at the same time brings in billions of dollars in investments to our country. This sector if nurtured properly can be one of our country’s main weapons against poverty since it gives its employees an above average salary ranging from at least P 20,000.00 to up to P40,000.00 per month which is more than enough to provide the needs for a family of four to six members.
Sadly, our education system hasn’t been able to cope with the high demand for skilled BPO workers. That is why some BPO companies still find it hard to fill up their vacancies. Let us hope that our government particularly the Department of Education will address the problems of access and quality of our public basic education system so that more Filipinos can become competent enough to be hired in this growing BPO industry in our country.
Another good news this week is in the field of sports. Our national football team recently held their Singapore counterparts to a draw while bringing down the highly-favored Vietnamese team, 2-0. As we all know, our country is a known lightweight in the football world and in the past Southeast Asian Games, our football teams have been the perennial whipping boys of the tournament. Yet, in the current Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup being held in Vietnam, they surprised everyone by beating the defending champion Vietnamese team in front of their 40,000 hometown fans.
Many sports analysts and experts have consistently said that Filipinos have the physical gifts to excel in football if only our athletes were given proper training and exposure abroad. Sadly, much of our funds still go to basketball which is a sport that requires height and heft, something that we are lacking compared to people of other countries. Perhaps this huge achievement by our football team will awaken our government leaders and the private sector toward investing more in our national football development program. Who knows? Perhaps all of us will still live to see the day that our country will be able to compete in the World Cup.
In the realm of politics and governance where public distrust is usually high, the recent Pulse Asia survey continues to show that almost eight out of 10 Filipinos still trust President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd despite some earlier missteps of his administration. The very high trust rating of Aquino goes to show that Filipinos are willing to be patient with him as he continues to promote good governance and sustainable reforms in our country.
One thing that is good about this present administration is that they have been very transparent to the public with regard to the things that they have been doing. Some critics have actually said that Aquino may have become too candid about how he feels about certain issues but I feel that this total honesty in the public eye is what Filipinos appreciate more about him. In the last administration, it was rare for the President to actually face the media and answer questions pertaining to different issues but in Aquino’s case, he has always made it a point to make time to let the Filipino people know about what is happening in his government.
Let us just hope and pray that he will continue to use his political stock wisely and will not be swayed by people around him who have self-serving interests.
Finally, the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. based in Bacolod City brought pride and honor again to our country. Its ingenious use of a hydraulic ram pump to bring water to more than 170 upland villages won this year’s BBC World Challenge.
Access to clean water is very important since without it a community becomes susceptible to diseases due to a lack of hygiene among its members. More importantly, this innovative venture allows the villagers to save money and time since they no longer have to walk for several kilometers just to be able get their water. The time and money saved can now be used for other activities such as the education of their children and setting up their own small livelihood programs.
There are so many wonderful and inspiring stories in our country that we need to celebrate and be proud of. Indeed, when one reads about these stories, one can easily say, Pilipinas, Kay Ganda!
What’s next? Impeach PNoy?
by: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times
The recent action of the House of Representatives to pass a resolution calling for the resignation of Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles brought back memories of how this supposed co-equal branch of our government allowed itself to be used to perpetuate the self interests of the previous administration.
Just when everyone thought that the allies of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd had full control of Congress here comes the minority block led by former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo along with Minority Leader Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay manipulating a simple misunderstanding between Secretary Deles and Rep. Aliah Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte into a big issue that led to the unanimous resolution calling for Deles’ head.
Why was Deles being asked to resign? Was it because she failed to do her job to move peace and development forward in Min-danao? No, she didn’t fail in her duties and responsibilities. In fact many civil society groups in Mindanao are very happy with the reappointment of Deles as head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. The answer is plain and simple, Deles is being asked to resign because she offended a member of Congress during her department’s budget hearing.
The allies of Arroyo saw this as a perfect opportunity to humiliate not only Deles but the President as well given that members of the Cabinet are supposed to be alter egos of the President. Sadly, many allies of PNoy in Congress fell into the trap and signed on with the minority’s resolution calling for the resignation of Deles.
Last Saturday, one of our leaders at the Kaya Natin! movement called me up to tell me that this incident shows how fragile is PNoy’s hold in Congress. According to him, during the time that Arroyo was President, this kind of resolution against a member of the Cabinet wouldn’t even get more than 30 votes and would immediately be dismissed by the leaders of Congress.
If the minority can easily outmaneuver the allies of PNoy and move for the ouster of one of his most trusted Cabinet secretaries, can an impeachment be far behind? Remember that for an impeachment complaint to prosper, you will only need one-third of Congress approving the complaint for it to be transmitted to the Senate. More than a hundred so called “honorable” congressmen signed the resolution against Deles. Thus, it just goes to show that perhaps Speaker Sonny Belmonte might need to conduct a loyalty check within his ranks before PNoy gets checkmated by Arroyo and her gang.
Let’s not forget that although Arroyo is no longer president, she continues to be a threat to the present administration’s efforts to promote good governance in our country. Her cohorts would want nothing but for PNoy to fail thus, they are now working toward trying to divide his allies in Congress and the Cabinet.
The challenge now is for PNoy and his allies to get their acts together and set aside personal differences so that the present administration will be able to deliver on its campaign promises.
This will not be the last time that Arroyo’s minions will try to exploit the disunity within the Aquino administration but hopefully, the next time that it happens, PNoy’s allies will be more than ready to respond and not allow another good leader like Deles to become a sacrificial lamb.
A good test case for the allies of PNoy in Congress to redeem themselves would be the on-going impeachment of known Arroyo ally, Ombudsman Merce-ditas Gutierrez. One need not have a political science doctorate to know that PNoy would definitely prefer having a different and trusted person occupying Gutierrez’s post. The challenge for the allies of PNoy would be to muster enough numbers so that they can impeach the Ombudsman and make her accountable for all the shenanigans that happened during her watch.
If many of them could easily sign on to a hastily drawn up resolution asking for Deles’ resignation, how could they not sign on to this unless of course the rumors are now true that LP no longer stands for Liberal Party in Congress but Lakas Pala!
On the good side, we should at least give a pat in the back to PNoy’s allies in Congress led by Speaker Belmonte for being able to pass the national budget with the P21-billion Conditional Cash Transfer or CCT program of the DSWD intact. The CCT is one of the centerpiece programs of the Aquino administration.
Thus, it was a major victory for the administration that the budget passed unscathed. Let’s give credit where credit is due that despite efforts of the minority bloc to block the allocation for the CCT, the majority bloc was able to assert itself and emerge victorious. Now, it becomes our shared responsibility to make sure that we become proactive in ensuring that the P1.6-trillion national budget is spent properly.
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