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December 30, 2012
Gains, sins of omission and commission of the Aquino presidency

By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Bulatlat.com


Next year would be the mid-point of the Aquino administration. Because it is already near its mid-point, the Filipino people could already accurately gauge the direction of the administration. Let us look at the policy directions of the Aquino presidency by enumerating the issues that emerged in 2012 and the actions or inaction of the government.

Good Governance

Gains

1. Removal of Renato Corona as chief justice of the Supreme Court – This is perhaps the biggest achievement of the Aquino presidency for the year. In a rare display of political will, President Benigno Aquino III was able to muster the numbers in Congress and sway public opinion in favor of the removal of former chief justice Renato Corona under the banner of good governance and anti-corruption. Renato Corona was portrayed as the biggest stumbling block to holding former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to account. However, after two attempts at jailing Arroyo, who was, on both occasions, placed under hospital custody, the Aquino government’s drive seemed to have lost steam.

Added to this, the current Supreme Court, with newly-appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at its helm, still needs to be tested as to its independence.

Sins of omission and commission

1. Failure to enact the Freedom of Information bill – Despite being a major campaign promise of President Aquino, this important bill that should have engendered transparency in government has not yet been passed two and a half years into the Aquino administration. Worse, the government has even enacted laws that are designed to “protect” the government and its officials such as the Data Privacy Act and the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which imposes higher penalties for online libel.

2. It could not be said with certainty that corruption has been wiped out from the government. In fact, the proliferation of political dynasties does not bode well for the goal of good governance.

Human rights

Gains

1. Enactment into law of the Anti-disappearance bill – This is the only significant measure of the Aquino administration that addresses human rights violations and impunity.

2. Charges have been filed by the relatives of missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño against military officials, including the infamous former general Jovito Palparan. A warrant has been issued for their arrest. But up to now, Palparan continues to elude arrest, raising suspicions that he is being coddled by his friends in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Sins of omission and commission

1. There has not been a single perpetrator of human rights violations, from the previous up to the current administration, who has been convicted and impunity continues to reign. The government created another superbody to address extrajudicial killings. This is on top of the other task forces created by the previous administration, which miserably failed to put a stop to extrajudicial killings.

Even the quest for justice of the relatives of the victims of the abhorrent Maguindanao massacre, which was brazenly committed by the powerful Ampatuan clan, has been stuck in the slow grind of justice. Worse, some members of the clan are running under the administration party in the 2013 local elections.

2. Not one enforced disappearance victim has been accounted for.

3. Human rights violations continue to be violated with impunity. And yet, when this was pointed out by the international community, President Aquino merely shrugged it off as “propaganda from the Left.”

4. Trumped up charges are again being filed against political activists.

Economy

Gains

1. The country achieved a GDP growth of more than 6 percent.

2. The government has enacted measures to compete for foreign investments especially Business Process Outsourcing.

3. Overseas remittances continue to increase.

4. The revised sin tax bill has been enacted into law.

Sins of omission and commission

1. The unemployment situation continues to worsen.

2. The country’s workers receive the lowest wages, according to data gathered by the United Nations.

3. Prices of basic goods, utilities and services continue to rise.

4. Oil prices are being raised without consideration for the public’s welfare.

Social services

Gains

1. A new basic education curriculum has been instituted but it has generated both praises and criticisms.

2. The budget for the controversial conditional cash transfers is being increased annually to cover more poor families.

3. The budget for state colleges and universities was increased this year.

Sins of omission and commission

1. Health services are being privatized through corporatization of government hospitals. This would make health care services more inaccessible to the poor.

2. Education is being privatized by contracting out private corporations to do the government’s tasks through public-private partnerships and corporatization of state universities and colleges.

3. The Aquino administration has earned the notoriety of having the most number of violent demolitions of urban poor communities, especially after the death of the late Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

4. Taking the cue from the US, to the Aquino government, the Reproductive Health Bill is both a social and economic measure: to enable poor families to cope with their dwindling income in order to prevent the poor from undertaking radical measures to survive.

While the RH bill is essential, it should be not be about population control but about women’s health as Gabriela has sharply pointed out.

Social Justice

This is one important area where the Aquino administration failed miserably. Even IMF-WB officials, who visited the country in October 2011, urged the Aquino government to address the widening gap between the rich and poor in the country. But how can this be addressed when, like its predecessors, its record of land distribution is dismal, and gainful, secure employment with decent wages is hard to come by? At most, the CCT provides temporary relief to families, but it reaches a very small segment of the poor and is prone to corruption.

Readers could still add to this list. But when we sum it all up the question is: Where is the change? (http://bulatlat.com)

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3 thoughts on “Gains, sins of omission and commission of the Aquino presidency

  1. Pingback: Gains, sins of omission and commission of the Aquino presidency : The Philippine Reporter – Toronto Filipino Newspaper Serving the Greater Toronto Area

  2. The artcle says:P
    “The unemployment situation continues to worsen”
    This is because of high roman catholic stupid pope inspired
    birthrate twenty years ago. Too many people born before.
    We cannot blame our current government for this.

  3. Pingback: 2012: Where is Aquino presidency heading to? - Bulatlat

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