• Bar has been lowered

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    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Three years and then some, we have accepted that substandard is the norm in public service. From the bunkhouses to the “burned out” Cabinet, to the critics making a living from being critical to the need to rest. When it used to be the best and the brightest served government, today, we have barkada lording it over technocrats simply because proximity to power is the virtue some people in this administration requires.

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    And so we are midway the six-year term and we take stock of what has been and where we want to be. It was BSA3 who embraced the suck in term Superman and he was also the one who said that we are in the “last two minutes.” A Superman in the last two minutes would not ask for a kid’s mitt for his team. That ain’t the Ginebra spirit! Burn out is not the kryptonite because a good manager is able to wisely use his time. Besides, they were the once who were stumbling on the ground to get the position they like so plod on.

    Another bar that has been lowered since 2010 is the ability to reach out for consensus. It’s as if the whole team was their god’s gift to the country, hence building a national consensus is not a priority. They would rather go, “bahala kayo sa buhay n’yo” or “bahala na si Lord sa inyo” or “wala kaming magagawa d’yan” (re price increases that greeted all citizens this year). A proof of the psyche of leaders that do not understand why nurturing a national conversation is very important.

    Even the lack of a disciplined work ethic has reached Congress. It’s as if we are in a freeze and no one should dare question the king. Sad when men and women who used to be with balls have been neutered by surveys. Believing the king is popular means allowing him center stage without much debate. Criticisms, regardless of hue, are to be shunned at because the king wants only good news.

    So where are we now? On Good Governance, Education, Infrastructure, Peace and National Defense, Health and Tourism, here are what has been achieved from 2010 June to 2013 December:

    Good governance
    Cases have been filed against alleged corrupt officials on electoral sabotage. The trials for the electoral sabotage cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. are ongoing, with no bail recommended.

    An impeachment case was filed against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for alleged betrayal of public trust in connection with the complaints against the public officials and employees in the last administration. She resigned. Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was convicted and removed from office by the Senate Impeachment Court for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, specifically for dishonesty and failure to lawfully disclose his assets. And the privileged speech of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada gave us a view on how the Corona impeachment was made.

    Plunder cases were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) against Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) generals relative to the testimony of whistleblower George Rabusa on the alleged diversion and misuse of national defense funds.

    Investigation is ongoing. On 16 July 2012, the OMB filed before the Sandiganbayan plunder raps against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Commission on Audit (COA), in connection with the PCSO’s Confidential/Intelligence Fund. A number of officials are also charged with Plunder with the OMB in connection with the PDAF Scam.

    Besides the plunder charges filed against a former president and former officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for the alleged misuse of the P366-million PCSO Intelligence Fund. Cases were also filed in the Sandiganbayan against the following: A former Tesda official charged with six counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) in relation to irregularities in the utilization of funds for various projects; former high-ranking officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) charged for misappropriation of P186 million allegedly contributed to a party-list and of P26.7 million for the production of a movie, and for the use of rice donations to typhoon victims in electioneering activities; and a number of PNP officials charged for irregularities in fund disbursements, such as the purchase of 75 defective police rubber boats in 2008 (P131.6 million); disbursement of the PNP intelligence fund for their travel expenses to Russia in 2008 (P6.93 million); and the purchase of second-hand helicopters in 2009 and 2010 (P104.99 million).

    How about the corrupt practices pried open in this administration: the missing container vans, purchase of guns for the PNP, LTO plates and license cards, Inekon deal, the P10-billion PDAF which is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the farm-to-market road projects of the Department of Agriculture, DAP, Malampaya fund, rice smuggling and others? If in three and a half years a trillion might be missing because of corruption, how much would it be when Aquino ends his term?

    Policy reforms have also been instituted such as strengthening the government’s oversight of GOCCs through the creation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs under RA 10149, The GOCC Governance Act of 2011, enacted 6 June 2011. Despite the reform and the cap on salaries, bonuses and benefits, at least 20 government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) received authorization for the release of performance-based incentives for the year 2012. This caused another round of public criticisms because of the large bonuses received by appointed CEOs and directors, especially among organizations managing pension funds.

    Improved business registrations through the Philippine Business Registry (PBR), a single-window online transaction processing system, expands connectivity of national government agencies with LGUs in facilitating faster business transactions. Since its implementation in 2012, the business registration processes of DTI, BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG have been reduced from 4 to 5 days to 30 minutes. The PBR has been rolled out in all DTI offices nationwide and has been used in Quezon City and Valenzuela City since 2012.

    Education
    The Aquino II started the implementation of the K-to-12 programs prioritizing the passage of laws such as Kindergarten Education Act (RA 10157) and the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (RA 10533). The 43,424 classrooms constructed as of 30 June 2013 are more than double the total number of 17,305 classrooms constructed from 2005 to the early half of 2010. On the average, about 14,475 classrooms per year have been constructed under this Administration, as compared to an average of 3,146 classrooms built in previous years. Still, there are 34,131 shortage.

    Infrastructure
    Despite setting aside the Nautical Highway Program of the Arroyo administration, Aquino II completed 43 port development and improvement projects worth P1.93 billion as of June 2012, which improved direct access to 13 tourism clusters. These include ports in Palawan (Culion Port), Camarines Sur (Sangay Port), Cebu (Cebu Baseport), and Samal, Davao (Tagpopongan Port).

    As of May 2012, the following have been accomplished: Paved 535.09 km of unpaved sections of national arterial roads from January 2010 to May 2012. This is 55.68 percent of the 960.93-km target for 2010-2012 and 28.48 percent of the 1,878.66-km overall target until 2014. Paved 1,034.15 km of unpaved sections of national secondary roads from January 2010 to May 2012. This is 78.68 percent of the 1,314.41-km target from 2010-2012, and 19.29 percent of the 5,360.16-km overall target until 2016.

    Peace and national defense
    The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the historic Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on 15 October 2012.

    On 6 December 2012, the President signed RA 10349 (An Act Amending RA 7898, Establishing the Revised AFP Modernization Program and for Other Purposes), which extends the implementation of the AFPM/CUP for another 15 years and provides a five-year initial funding of at least P75 billion for the Program. The government completed a total of 33 projects in 3 years, compared with the 43 projects completed during the whole 9 years of its predecessor. These include the acquisition of the following: BRP Gregorio del Pilar (first of two Weather High Endurance Cutters [WHEC]); BRP Tagbanua (the first locally built landing craft utility); Eight Sokol Combat Utility Helicopters; 60 field ambulances; and mobility equipment (1+ and 1+ ton troop carrier trucks).

    The Philippines is currently negotiating the procurement of 12 units of F/A-50 aircraft from the Republic of Korea with a total cost of P18.98 billion (P1.58 billion/unit).

    The AFP will also procure 50,629 units of M4 caliber 5.56mm assault rifles for P1.94 billion (P38,402.13/unit), which is significantly lower than the P3.19 billion (P63,000/unit) ABC. This is a result of the AFP’s strict adherence to transparent and accountable bidding process.

    Looks like the interests of Aquino II on guns and the military are clearly manifested in the accomplishments.

    Health
    As of April 2013, PhilHealth enrollment rate was 81 percent or 79.13 million of the projected population, higher compared to the 62-percent enrollment rate or 57.20 million of the projected population in 2010.

    On 19 June 2013, the President signed RA 10606 (An Act Amending the National Health Insurance Act of 1995), which mandates the provision of comprehensive health care services to all Filipinos through a socialized health insurance program that will cover the health care needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, persons with disabilities (PWDs), women, and children and provide free health care services to indigents.

    The passage of the Sin Tax Law (RA 10351), which raises taxes of cigarettes and liquor to fund priority health projects.

    The passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RA 10354) which guarantees universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal care.

    So why should there be an increase in the premiums of Philhealth when the Sin Tax Law was principally passed for health reasons?

    Tourism
    Aquino II pursued Pocket Open Skies Policy (EO 29, s. 2011) to increase air connectivity of local tourist destinations, which has so far generated: 14.75-percent increase in incoming and outgoing flights from 69,446 flights in January to June 2011 to 79,690 flights in January to June 2012. Increase in passenger traffic growth (inbound and outbound) in 2011 compared to 2010—international: 9.7 percent and domestic: 13.3 percent. Increase in the number of aviation players in the country, which include new local aviation players (e.g., AirAsia Philippines); expansion of existing services (e.g., Seair, previously only a domestic operator became a new international operator); and more foreign airline operators in the country (e.g., All Nippon Airways, Tiger Airways, Jin Air, Air Busan Co., Ltd.).

    These initiatives have contributed to the increase in international tourist arrivals that reached 3.9 million in 2011, 11-percent higher than the 3.5 million posted in 2010, and 2.144 million in the first semester of 2012, which is 11.7-percent higher than the 1.919 million posted in the same semester in 2011. This is also 47 percent of the 4.6 million target international tourist arrivals in 2012.

    But compared to our neighbors, ours is still a speck in the huge tourism market. Why? Because of infra, just look at the three terminals of NAIA and you get the drift.

    These are what Aquino II started and accomplished. Define burn out and I will tell you your work ethic.

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    1 Comment

    1. apolonio reyes on

      There was a joke that came out years ago that goes ” FVR did it the last two minutes and ERAP started his in the first minute. And the government became bank craft”. Can we safely say that Pnoy keep on shooting all the way to the last second of his administration? What will happen to our government’s daan matuwid? Bumaloktot kaya?