The recent Social Weather Station (SWS) Survey of Enterprises on Corruption showing that more than one in every two businessmen believed there was “a lot” of corruption in government – a 13-point or 30 percent increase from the 2012 level, more than three years into the Aquino administration – proves that PNoy’s “tuwid na daan” policy is driven more by rhetoric than concrete action.
Malacañang tried to put a positive spin on the dismal survey results saying that the uptick in perceived graft is balanced by the perception that the government is taking steps to eradicate corruption.
The survey results, however, show otherwise, with more Filipinos saying that the Aquino administration’s efforts to eradicate corruption became less effective.
Not a few observers trace this perceived rise in corruption to the Aquino administration’s suspicious reluctance to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill – a campaign promise of PNoy – that has been languishing in Congress for the past ten years.
Despite the overwhelming clamor of businessmen and ordinary Filipinos who believe that the passage of a strong FOI law will greatly reduce corruption, the Aquino administration adamantly refuses to certify the bill as urgent.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma , Jr. claims that “the President has always been circumspect in the use of this [certifying]power” because “certifying bills [as]urgent is only allowed under specific instances.”
By that, Coloma is referring to the provision in the 1987 Constitution stating that the President can only certify bills as urgent in order “to meet a public calamity or emergency.”
But if that is so, why did PNoy certify the reproductive health bill and sin tax reform bill as urgent?
What public calamity or emergency is the Palace trying to meet by controlling the country’s population growth, or reducing the number of smokers or smoking deaths, or increasing government’s revenue from “sin products?”
Are Filipinos multiplying like gremlins or are smokers dying in droves or has the country become bankrupt so as to constitute a public calamity or emergency?
Moreover, is the Palace saying that a birth control or revenue-generating measure is more important than reducing corruption or upholding the people’s constitutional right to information and to transparent and accountable governance?
The Aquino administration has clearly got its priorities twisted. That or its touted anti-corruption platform was really just a bad campaign joke lapped up by a gullible electorate.
House proclamation scandal
I’ve been getting a lot of requests from readers and friends for the full text of the letter that I sent to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte questioning the inclusion of An Waray’s second nominee in the House of Representatives’ roster despite not being proclaimed by Comelec.
Here it is:
“Dear Speaker Belmonte:
“This refers to the inclusion of An Waray partylist’s second (2nd) nominee as a member of the House of Representatives (HOR).
“In our recent interview with Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. on our radio program “Karambola sa DWIZ” (transcript attached), we were informed that the COMELEC had not issued a Certificate of Proclamation to An Waray for a second seat in the House, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order to reserve seats due to the pending Abang Lingkod partylist case.
“It is elementary in election law, and recognized by the Rules of the House, that only candidates – or in the case of partylist groups, nominees – who have been officially proclaimed and issued a Certificate of Proclamation can take his or her oath and assume the office of a representative of the House.
“Since An Waray’s second nominee, Victoria Isabel G. Noel, had not been proclaimed and/or issued any Certificate of Proclamation by the COMELEC, we would like to respectfully inquire what legal basis was used by the HOR for authorizing or allowing her to sit in the 16th Congress. We understand Ms. Noel has also been designated as an Assistant Majority Leader of the HOR.
“It is our humble opinion that WITHOUT the necessary Certificate of Proclamation from the Comelec en banc, there is no legal basis for Ms. Noel to sit as a member of the HOR.
“May we, therefore, as a taxpayer and a public interest advocate, ask the House leadership to rectify this grievous error by revoking the oath of office administered to Ms. Noel and dropping her name from the roll of members of the House?
“Moreover, we would also appreciate it if you could provide the undersigned with the list of salaries, allowances and other monetary benefits given to or received by the office of Ms. Noel in the 16th Congress since it is also our view that if she illegally assumed the office, all fund disbursements made by her office are void ab initio and should be returned to the public coffers.
“We would appreciate your prompt response to the above matters.”