Thursday, July 25, 2013

PNoy’s SONA 2013: AYEs Have It!

I like PNoy’s SONA this year.  First, by choosing to deliver his address in Pilipino, he was making sure that his target audience, meaning his “bosses” – the Filipino people, could understand in the clearest terms his report and message.  Second, he supported his address and report with specific facts and figures – numbers that everybody understands; that tell better stories; and that even the severest critics find hard to argue against.

Many did not like the speech for being lengthy (100 minutes).  My barber’s response to that is, “It better be long if you have an extensive list of achievements that your bosses should know.”

Some criticize it because it excluded many things that they believe should be included.  To them my barber says, “Then, the SONA would really be too long.”

Last year, I used ABS-CBN News Tracker of PNoy’s promises vs. performance to date as my basis for my objective analysis to go with my subjective one.   This year, I am again using ABS-CBN News Tracker but focusing on how PNoy’s bosses assess his performance based on 10 categories related to his promises.

The categories are:  1. Economy, Jobs, Asset Reform.; 2. Education, Sports; 3. Government and Ethics; 4. Health and Environment; 5. Tourism; 6. Government and Justice; 7. Urban Poor; 8. Mindanao; 9. OFWS and Foreign Affairs; 10. National Security.

The public is asked on what their view is on PNoy’s performance: aprub (APPROVE);  ayos lang (JUST OK or FAIR);  or an’yare (FAILED).

Over all, ABS-CBN News reported the following results:

APPROVE:     53%
FAIR:              17%
FAILED:         30%

Called upon to fulfill his promises in 6 years, majority of those who expressed their views approve of his 3-year performance so far.   About 17% of them believe that while the state of the nation is AYOS LANG (Just OK), they want him to do more and better.   About 30% think that he is a failure.  According to my barber, the naysayers are being true to form.  They will always think PNoy is a failure even if he performs “miracles”.

PNoy obtained the highest approval from his bosses in Tourism and National Security.  PNoy got 62% and 63% approval of his performance in the 2 categories, respectively.

I am not surprised! The “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign generated more than 4 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2012 alone.  It could generate 5.5 million in 2013.  My barber encourages his customers to “Book it!  Philippines is the place to be!”

On National Security, Aquino promised modernization of the Philippine military.  In December 2012, he signed the AFP Modernization Act that renewed, for another 15 years, the modernization of the armed forces to the “tune of P75 billion for the first 5 years.”  This means that we now see a continuous upgrading of weapons, hardware and equipment for the military. In fact, according the ABS-CBN report, the military is already acquiring Hamilton-class cutters, FA-50 multi-role fighter jets; new radar systems, close air-support aircraft, flight simulator machines, Bell 412 combat utility helicopters, armored vehicles, assault rifles, long-range patrol aircraft,  anti-aircraft guided missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, 155mm self-propelled artillery guns,  service support vessels, an anti-submarine helicopter, and AW109 naval helicopters.

The police forces are getting modernized too.  ABS-CBN says that on July 2, 2013, Aquino led the distribution of over 22,000 Glock 17-generation 4, 9-mm pistols to police officers. This is the biggest batch of firearms distributed so far of the 59,904 pistols acquired by the Philippine National Police last year.

He performed worst in the following categories:  OFWS and Foreign Affairs as well as Government and Justice.   Less than 50% of his bosses approve of his performance in these 2 areas (38% and 43%, respectively) while 15% and 18% respectively say, Ayos Lang.  Of course, the optimists would add the 2 ratings and end up with 53% and 61% and hope that better things would come.  The naysayers on the other hand, would claim hopelessness in these categories.

The expose on Sex for Flight regarding OFW women actually stains the efforts of the government and PNoy’s promise to protect them.  The wheels of justice are still slow.  There still exists that Wang-Wang mentality or Culture of Impunity in the judiciary.  Powers that be still think they can get away with murder.  Corruption in the judicial process remains unabated.

He chose to criticize publicly the performance of 3 agencies in his administration namely: Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, and the National Irrigation Administration.  These are all breeding grounds of corruption.  Many of the corrupted have been in the bureaucracy for years protected by the Civil Service System and their political “padrinos”.

I do not know about the other 2 but in the Bureau of Customs, putting honest men like Biazon and General Lim would not have been enough.  You had to provide them full support (political, legal, and logistical) to go after the well-entrenched protectors of the status quo.

The amount of responsibility that one has is always commensurate to the amount of power and resources that he possesses to meet that responsibility.  

As president, PNoy has tremendous powers and resources that he could use or delegate to his agencies to fulfill their mandates.  There are enough laws to enforce.  The government has the COA, the NBI, the DOJ, the Ombudsman, PCGG and other enforcement agencies to go after the thieves and the corrupt in government.

S.AL.N. (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth) and other constitutional provisions brought down a very powerful but corrupt Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The same could easily be used to remove, suspend, or reform corrupt employees not only of the judiciary but also of other agencies regardless of whether they are protected by Civil Service or by their political “padrinos”.

As I suggested earlier, lead a S.A.L.N. Revolution.  Get rid of the undesirables!

One of the better lines in PNoy’s SONA was how savings in government would be used for education, health, housing, infrastructure, and the like.  Citing examples made them very credible.  

The abolition of the pork barrel would precisely generate tremendous savings that could be used for the services mentioned.  Or as a compromise, the earmarks specified for the services could be transferred to the Local Development Councils (LDCs).  The interested Congressman or Senator could claim credit if he wants to.

The Cory Constitution already guarantees freedom of Information.  In fact, it is in the Bill of Rights and therefore, self-executing.  PNoy may choose to issue an Executive Order or push for the passage of the FOI Bill.  Either way, he would silence his critics but at the same time restricting or limiting any abuse.  

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