ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante
Nagulat at nalungkot ako sa mga naging paratang ni DILG Usec. Rico Puno na si DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo raw at ang kanyang grupo ang isa sa mga nais magpatalsik sa kanya sa puwesto.
Halos araw-araw kaming nag-uusap ni Sec. Robredo at sa totoo lang ni minsan ay hindi niya binanggit sa akin na nais niyang mawala sa DILG si Puno.
Parati ngang sinasabi sa amin ni Robredo na nirerespeto niya si Puno at wala siyang nagiging problema sa pakikipagtrabaho sa kanya, kaya talagang nakakagulat na itinuturo ngayon ni Puno si Robredo na isa sa mga nais sumira sa kanya.
Wala ring katotohanan na si Robredo ang siyang nagsulsol kay Archbishop Oscar Cruz na ilaglag ang pangalan ni Puno patungkol sa jueteng payola.
Patunay rito ay noon ngang ibinunyag ni Cruz na may dalawang malapit kay Presidente Noynoy Aquino na tumatanggap ng jueteng payola ay kaagad na tumawag sa akin si Robredo at tinanong sa akin kung kilala ko kung sino ang dalawang ito.
Nakiusap pa sa akin si Robredo na kung pwede ay itanong ko sa mga malapit kay Cruz kung sino ang dalawang tinutukoy ng arsobispo.
Kung si Robredo nga ang nagbigay ng pangalan ni Puno kay Cruz, bakit naman kailangan pa niya akong utusan para saliksikin kung sino ang mga taong tinutukoy niya?
Naiintindihan ko naman si Puno na nais niya lamang linisin ang kanyang pangalan ngunit sana ay huwag naman sa paraang makakasira siya ng pangalan ng iba.
Naging maganda ang talakayan namin nitong nakaraang Biyernes sa Bgy. Loyola Heights, Quezon City patungkol sa unang 100 araw ni PNoy.
Iba’t ibang mga grupo ang dumating at naging maganda ang mga pagbibigay nila ng kanilang mga opinyon patungkol sa administrasyong Aquino.
Isa sa mga nagustuhan ko ay iyong binanggit ni Soc Banzuela ng grupong PAKISAMA kung saan sinabi niya na bilang kinatawan ng mga magsasaka, umaasa silang ibabahagi na ni PNoy ang Hacienda Luisita sa mga magsasaka.
Mahalaga kasi ito upang maipakita ni PNoy na seryoso siya sa repormang pang-agraryo sa ating bayan. Paano nga naman susunod ang ibang malalaking may-ari ng lupa sa ating bansa kung ang mismong pamilya ng Presidente ay ayaw namang sumunod sa batas?
Nakita na natin nitong nakaraang ilang buwan na noong huminto sa paggamit ng wangwang si PNoy ay huminto na rin ang iba pang mahilig sa wangwang.
Dapat ay patuloy na maging mabuting halimbawa si PNoy at siya na mismo ang mag-utos na ibahagi na ang Hacienda Luisita.
Huwag sana siyang magpadala sa mga impluwensya ng ilang nakapaligid sa kanya na pawang pansariling interes lamang ang iniisip.
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Jueteng lord for President?
By: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times
In his first few weeks in office, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd categorically stated that eradicating jueteng will be one of the least priorities of his administration. This statement raised many eyebrows particularly from the leaders of the Church and some of the political allies of Aquino in the Liberal Party such as former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca who lost in the last elections due to the billions of jueteng money which was used by their political opponents.
For a while Aquino probably thought that this issue would simply go away but just a few weeks ago, the growing problem of jueteng became a major test in his young administration after Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago both named DILG Usec. Rico Puno and former PNP Chief Jesus Versoza as protectors of jueteng lords. According to Cruz and Santiago, these two very close allies of Aquino who were receiving millions in protection money every week. Both have already denied any involvement in this illegal numbers game that continues to pervade our society most especially those belonging to the lower income strata. Yet, in a television interview, DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo mentioned that as early as the first week of August, he had already sent formal communications to Versoza and Puno telling them that there were already rumors linking both of them to jueteng and asking them to immediately resolve this issue before it gets out of hand. Did we see any action from Versoza and Puno? None. Why didn’t they do anything? Your guess is as good as mine.
Now, Aquino is left with a dilemma, while Puno is a very good friend and trusted ally, many are now calling on him to sack Puno not only due to these allegations of his involvement in jueteng but also because of his poor performance during the August 23 hostage crisis. The IIRC led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clearly pointed out that Puno and Versoza were among those who were found to have been lacking in their response to the hostage crisis. Some quarters are complaining that while Aquino sacked former Pagasa Director Prisco Nilo just after one strike, Puno it seems will not be relieved even if he already has two strikes, major ones at that. If I were Puno, I would save my good friend from this burden by at least taking an indefinite leave of absence until the jueteng investigations and operations are already resolved.
An unsolicited advice to Aquino would be to move Puno to another less sensitive department if he wants to continue to hold on to his friend. I am not one to second guess the President on why he continues to trust Puno but unless he shows people that he can hold his friends accountable for their actions, many Filipinos will eventually end up disappointed with this present administration.
For those who continue to ask why jueteng should be considered a national security issue, one can only look at the experience of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who was ousted from Malacañang due to allegations that he was on the take from jueteng lords. In the last elections, good and upright leaders like Panlilio and Padaca were both defeated due to the massive electoral fraud that happened in their provinces. These cheating machineries used by their opponents were funded by jueteng money thus, it was no longer surprising when Cruz revealed that current Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and current Isabela Rep. Pol Dy were among those who are being tagged as jueteng lords in their areas. I am sure that Panlilio and Padaca’s experience wasn’t isolated, as I believe there were many other good and deserving leaders who also lost to their jueteng lord-supported opponents. These experiences clearly show us how jueteng can influence our politics and put leaders who are corrupt into power. Now it’s jueteng, soon it will be illegal drugs and prostitution. We have seen the experience of Mexico and Columbia wherein drug cartels are now so influential that they are able to elect government leaders even in the national level. If we don’t resolve this growing problem of jueteng soon, we might wake up one day having a jueteng lord as our next senator, vice president or even president. Is this the kind of society that we want our children to grow up in? I hope not.
Kumpiyansa pa rin kay PNoy
ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante
Isa ako sa milyun-milyong mga Pilipino na nagbigay tulong at suporta kay Presidente Noynoy Aquino noong nakaraang halalan. Sa totoo lang, dahil na rin sa aking mga isinulat na pabor kay Aquino rito sa aking kolum sa Abante, marami rin akong natanggap na hindi masyadong magandang mga mensahe mula sa kampo ng ibang kandidato. Tumulong ako kay Aquino at kay dating Senador Mar Roxas nang walang hinihinging kapalit o posisyon sa pamahalaan maliban na lamang sa nais nating lahat ng matuwid at maayos na gobyerno. Sa nakaraang 2 buwan niyang panunungkulan iba’t ibang problema na kaagad ang hinarap ni Aquino kagaya ng kaguluhan sa kanyang communications team, ang hostage crisis sa Quirino Grandstand at ang pagdawit sa kanyang malapit na kaibigang si DILG Usec. Rico Puno sa jueteng. Ilan sa aking mga kaibigan na bumoto kay Aquino ay unti-unti nang nawawalan ng tiwala sa kanyang pamumuno ngunit para sa akin, malaki pa rin ang aking kumpiyansang magtatagumpay ang pamahalaang Aquino at madadala niya ang ating bayan sa matuwid na daan.
Payo ko lamang kay Aquino ay dapat maging mas mapanuri siya sa mga inilalagay niyang tao sa kanyang pamahalaan. Hindi porke’t malapit na kaibigan at matagal mo nang kilala ay pwede mo na siyang bigyan ng isang posisyon kahit wala pa itong gaanong kaalaman at karanasan sa paghawak ng posisyong iyon. Si Puno na rin mismo ang umamin na kaya siya pumalpak sa kanyang trabaho nitong nakaraang hostage crisis ay dahil na rin wala siya masyadong kaalaman kung paano aaksyunan ang ganitong klaseng mga sitwasyon. Sa totoo lang, hindi ko naman kilala si Puno at sa tingin ko naman ay hangad lamang nito ang maglingkod ng tapat at tumulong sa kanyang kaibigan ngunit baka mas magandang maghanap ng posisyon sa ating pamahalaan na babagay sa mga kakayanan ni Puno.
Sana rin ay mas maging bukas sa payo at puna ang ating Pangulo lalung-lalo na kung ito ay nanggagaling na sa kanyang mga kakampi at mga tagasuporta. Baka kasi iniisip ni Aquino kung ikaw ay panig sa kanya, dapat ay tanggapin na lamang ang lahat ng kanyang gagawin at huwag nang umangal dito. Ayon nga sa kila lang professor sa UP na si Mareng Winnie Monsod ay mayroong dalawang klase ng pamumuna, ang pamumuna na nais matulungan ang pinupuna at ang pamumuna na nais sirain ang pinupuna. Sa tingin ko dapat makita ni Aquino na ang kanyang mga kakampi na nagbibigay ng kanilang komento sa kanya ay nagnanais lamang na mas ma ging mabuti at magaling siyang pinuno at hindi para ibagsak siya. Pakiusap ko lamang sa ating lahat na sana ay bigyan pa natin ng sapat na panahong patunayan ni Aquino ang kanyang kakayahang mamuno sa ating lahat.
Masyado pang maaga upang husgahan na natin siya bilang isang mahinang pinuno sapagkat sa totoo lang ay hindi madali ang kanyang tatahaking landas dahil na rin sa dami ng minanang mga problema mula sa nakaraang administrasyon. Patuloy nating ipagdasal si Aquino at ang ating pamahalaan na bigyan sila ng ating Panginoon ng lakas ng loob upang patuloy na maglingkod ng tapat sa ating bayan.
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by: Harvey S. Keh, T
It’s been a month now since the August 23 hostage fiasco at the Quirino Grandstand. Much time, effort and energy from our government leaders and their respective agencies have been exhausted these past weeks to ensure that a thorough investigation on the matter is conducted. Last Friday, the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), tasked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to spearhead the investigation into this sad incident, has already finished its report and has officially recommended that administrative and/or criminal charges be filed against 13 police officers, government officials and media personalities. Hopefully, Aquino will be able to quickly act on these recommendations so that our country can finally move on from this tragic incident. The sooner we move on, the better for all of us since there are so many problems that the present administration currently faces. These problems include the continuing growth in poverty, the lack of good job opportunities here in the Philippines and the declining state of public health.
Aside from filing the necessary charges and punishing those who failed to fulfill their duties, a thorough investigation should also be done in terms of the rampant graft and corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP). Necessary charges have to be filed against police officials who are found to have used their power and position to enrich themselves. As Vince Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network so aptly explained, corruption isn’t just stealing funds from government, but it is using one’s public office for private gain. I cringe at the thought of Aquino giving former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa another position in the government, since all of us have seen how inept he was in handling the hostage crisis. For those who don’t know yet, Verzosa left Manila at 3 p.m., in the middle of the hostage crisis, to go to Cagayan de Oro. I dare ask Verzosa what could be more important in Cagayan de Oro that he would need to leave the scene of a hostage crisis with huge international implications to our country? It is no wonder that the PNP continues to be ill-prepared for situations such as these because it is run by leaders who cop out when the going gets tough.
I believe that there are still many ordinary police officers who continue to render good and ethical public service to the Filipino people, but as DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo correctly pointed out in the IIRC hearings, these police officers are often sent out to crime situations without the necessary training and equipment. This was clearly seen in the last hostage crisis, where we saw members of the Manila Police District SWAT team assaulting the tourist bus without the necessary bullet-proof vests and explosive devices that would’ve helped in defusing the situation. I heard a report that if you check the budget and expenses of the PNP, you would see that they would rather put millions of pesos into renovating and improving their swimming pool rather than buying the necessary equipment needed by the police force. The admirable courage and bravery shown by many of our policemen can only get them so far if they are not given proper training and equipment.
We should also ask these police officials, especially Verzosa, how come jueteng has continued to thrive during his time as PNP chief. It took another big revelation for Archbishop Oscar Cruz to force the PNP to get its act together and try its darnest best to curb jueteng all over the country. As early as the first week of August, Robredo, a noted anti-jueteng advocate, already wrote a formal letter to Verzosa and DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Rico E. Puno, asking them to immediately address this problem; but after more than a month, nothing has happened. Why is that? Does this mean that Verzosa and Puno are also on the take in this illegal numbers game? Your guess is as good as mine.
Why put a good man down?
by: Harvey S. Keh, The Manila Times
Allow me to first thank the management and editorial board of The Manila Times for giving me this opportunity to once again become a columnist in your highly respected newspaper. I used to write a column here at the Times from 2003 to 2004 which discussed public education reform initiatives in our country. Now, I will be writing not only about education initiatives in the Philippines but I will also get a chance to share my views about politics and good governance since these are areas that I also work in at the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government. I hope that you will follow my column every Thursday here at the Times and share with me your thoughts, comments and insights through text, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Thank you very much again to Mr. Dante “Klink” Ang and Mr. Rene Bas for this homecoming and this wonderful opportunity to share my opinions with our readers!
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Much has already been said about the recent hostage crisis which claimed the lives of eight Hong Kong nationals and has brought about international shame to our country. Fingers have already been pointed on different government officials who are said to have neglected on their duties and responsibilities. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd already cleared the air with regard to who was responsible in his Cabinet for the botched hostage rescue. Aquino clarified last week that it was his good friend and shooting buddy, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Rico Puno, whom he had given the sole responsibility of supervising the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Despite this admission from the President himself, there are still those who want the head of DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo including staunch allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. Another known Aquino ally in the Senate, Senator Chiz Escudero who is also a Bicolano like Robredo and Lagman, also wants Robredo to be held accountable for this sad incident. What gives? Why are they asking someone who clearly didn’t have a role in this incident to resign?
As for the allies of Arroyo in the House of Representatives, it is pretty obvious that they want to weaken the Aquino presidency by hitting one of the stalwarts and reform-minded leaders of his Cabinet in Sec. Jesse Robredo. Robredo has been recognized by several national and international organizations as one of our country’s most competent and ethical public officials.
In Naga City, where he was mayor for 18 years, he is known for institutionalizing systems in transparency and public accountability which has helped eradicate graft and corruption in city hall. This has enabled him to channel enough funds to deliver effective basic services in healthcare and education to his constituents. Rob-redo is the total opposite of what the Arroyo administration was in the past nine years and thus, they want him out of Aquino’s Cabinet to weaken the present administration.
As for Escudero, not many people know that he is a good friend of Puno as well. The DILG portfolio is one of the most politically powerful posts in the country and anyone who will be appointed to this position will have the opportunity to build his or her political capital. Everyone knows that Escudero wants to become President some day and that he was one of those who was strongly lobbying for Vice President Jojo Binay to become the DILG Secretary. When their group failed to get the post, they settled with getting Puno inside the DILG. By focusing the blame on Robredo, Escudero is trying to help Puno escape from his responsibility as the person who was in charge of the PNP. In simple terms, Escudero wants Robredo out of the DILG so that he and his friends can gain control of it. For Escudero, it is all politics and personal gain, not public service.
Will we allow a good man like Robredo to be persecuted unjustly by our political leaders with self-serving interests? I hope not. If you believe in DILG Sec. Jesse Robre-do, you can show your support by joining our Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/25wchzx or you can send your messages of support to email@example.com .
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org .