Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sana, SONA, South China, Saan Na

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino won the presidential elections based on certain expectations by the Filipino people. I, for one, voted and endorsed him primarily because I was convinced that among all the candidates, he pretty much personified my vision of a leader who would bring honesty, humility, honor, and hope to the Presidency.

As I saw it, many Filipinos including my barber are in agreement with me in what we all want.

SANA: People’s Wish List

Sana we would have an Honest Government:Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap;
Sana we would have Humility or No Arrogance of Power;
Sana we would have Honor and National Pride; and
Sana we would have Hope for a brighter future.

It is against these wishes that we will try to assess the State of the Nation under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino as he reported.


Honest Government: In his first year in office, P-Noy has started to remove the culture of corruption that has engulfed the Filipino society for generations. By putting together a team of “incorruptible” managers in many sensitive positions, he is indeed committed to build the foundation for good governance.

In his address he cited a sample of honest governance in the Department of Public Works and Highways under Secretary Babes Singson: “We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.”

The Department of Justice under Secretary de Lima has been aggressive in investigating and filing anti-corruption cases. So has the Department of Finance under Secretary Purisima against customs duties violators and tax evaders.

The appointment of Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as Ombudsman is a clear signal that P-Noy is serious in having “an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government.

Humility in Government: P-Noy began his tenure by acknowledging who his real bosses are—the sovereign people. He identified the “Wang-Wang” as signifying arrogance of power.

In his own words, “Over the years, the Wang-Wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the Wang-Wang mind-set; this is the mind-set of entitlement.”

He also drew our attention in his SONA to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. He said, “The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.”

Indeed, for public service to result in public welfare, honesty and humility in governance are necessary ingredients.

Honor and Pride: There are many things that Filipinos can be proud of nowadays. Pacquiao for one brought us on top of the world in sports. We have become the Text, Facebook, Twitter, and Call Center Capital of the world. This is despite the fact that Filipino access to the Internet is less than 30%.

He also enumerated examples of creativity displayed by Filipinos benefiting other Filipinos in his address. Constructing a monorail using a homegrown technology was specified.


I cannot however be prouder than when P-Noy expressed his willingness to stand up against the bullying of China on the issue of Spratlys, West Philippine or South China Sea. His approach of using International Law in resolving the dispute speaks well of his belief that RIGHT trumps MIGHT. His resolve to fight for our sovereignty over KALAYAAN, the island, or the RECTO bank in the same manner that we would protect or defend RECTO Avenue is indeed a courageous move worthy of praise and honor.

Globalizing the issue and bringing it up to the international community is the better approach. Knowing that the current leadership, including P-Noy’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs del Rosario, cannot be bribed or corrupted into signing agreements inimical to the interest of the Philippines—as what happened in the previous administration—gives us comfort, honor, and pride.

Hope: The fact that we own an island that has gas and oil deposits equaling if not exceeding those of rich Kuwait gives us plenty of hope for an energy and economically independent future.

Even today, there are plenty of things that give us reasons for hope. Our credit rating was upgraded four times within one year. As shown by the record highs in the stock market and GDP growth rate, our economy is better. P-Noy indicated that most recently “a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.”

Growing up as a young boy in Pangasinan, I learned that we used to be the “rice granary of the Philippines.” Helping my parents during rice harvests gave me pride in contributing to the feeding of a nation. But I understand that we have been importing our rice needs for sometime now. “Malem manen awan pay bagas.” (It’s afternoon again but still no rice.) I used to hear this expression a lot.

P-Noy just reported that we have substantially reduced the importation of rice and that we have increased our rice production by 15.6%. Using more hectares of land for production and weather permitting, we now hope to be self-sufficient in rice in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, “Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.”

Saan Na?

Where indeed are we heading? A good foundation for good governance versus the culture of corruption is slowly but surely being built. A team is in place. A Freedom of Information law is expected to pass. If more Filipino men and women participate positively in the building of a nation, I am quite confident that success will come. Positivism, not negativism, would propel us to a prosperous Philippines.

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