Societal dynamics-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, September 2, 2013
HUMAN nature being what it is, the only way to reduce corruption is to reduce corruption opportunities. PNoy's determination to preserve, with only minor modifications, the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) system shows that he is not fully committed to eradicating corruption opportunities.
This is disappointing. It demonstrates that he is not a transformational leader. Incremental improvements will keep his survey rating at a reasonably high level, but the opportunity to make a real difference is slipping away.
All societies are stratified. There will always be people who are generally perceived to be in the upper echelons and there will always be the lowly.
Most are lowly due to force of circumstances and have no alternative. Our society needs to do more to create opportunities for the underprivileged.
But some of us are lowly by choice. We are chronic underachievers. Society has no responsibilities for us.
The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme is a laudable attempt to help those at a disadvantage. Needy families receive P1400 per month in return for children's regular attendance at school and for co-operation with medical programs.
The proposed CCT budget for 2014 is P63 billion which means that 3.75 million families will benefit.
We hope that those administering the scheme are able to find the genuinely needy. This is no easy task. It is often the less than genuinely needy who are adept at lobbying Barangay Captains and others who are in a position to help.
Subject to fairness, we accept that our community will be stratified.
By fairness, we mean that if the overall contribution of the elite is greater than that of the lowly, they should receive greater rewards. But when unfairness is apparent and there are those whose wealth is obtained illicitly, we are entitled to be angry, particularly when the illicit wealth has been obtained from public funds and diverted from ostensibly justifiable purposes.
The hypocrisy of those who pretend to be helping the underprivileged when in fact they are feathering their own nests is deeply repugnant and helped to engender the Luneta Park rally on National Heroes Day, August 26.
We would have expected the rally participants to be the usual malodorous leftist malcontents who live under a perpetual sense of grievance. In fact, however, the rallyists included fragrant and far from desperate housewives of Dasmariñas and other salubrious habitats. But will the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie prevail? We believe that they have already made a difference and with tenacity that difference can become significant.
The difference being, of course, the slow progression of our hitherto feudalistic society to one which is meritocratic and where upward mobility is achievable according to an individual's value.
Education is the leveler. We need, but do not have, an education system which is globally competitive, where our high school students compare favorably in terms of achievement with those of similar age from different systems around the world.
With an education framework that focuses on 21st century needs our graduates would become more employable in an increasingly international labor market. This framework is not yet in place and the recent Act is not helpful in creating a globally competitive education system. We need our legislators to represent our interests effectively in its discussions with the Department of Education.
The Senate finance committee has already approved a budget of P336.9 billion for the DepEd's 2014 budget. The devil will be in the details because the budget contains large lump sum appropriations. For example, the finance committee has asked DepEd to itemize the P37.7 billion appropriation for the construction of 43, 183 classrooms and the hiring of teachers by 15 October.
Large lump sum appropriations, without extremely close monitoring, can easily lead to pork barrel type abuses. We hope Senators will be vigilant in ensuring that DepEd is made accountable for a budget which should make substantial inroads in reducing the hitherto chronic lack of vital resources.
By virtue of more and better remunerated jobs, the number who are paying income taxes, deducted at source, is increasing rapidly. This is a manifestation of inclusivity (no matter how unwelcome to the newly included!) which engenders a wide variety of attitudes which are ultimately expressed with a growing confidence and sophistication. This means that misuse of public funds is becoming increasingly unacceptable to the populace whose articulate and firm responses to abuses are changing the national conversation.
Furthermore, the empty rhetoric employed by those seeking election in 2016 will be treated with the contempt it deserves. The discourteous treatment meted to our former Chief Justice at Luneta Park last Monday by the fragrant ones may be the beginning of a healthy and explicit disrespect for those in authority whose misbehavior is too crass to be ignored.
Our society is changing.
Can our “leaders” keep up?
“Only the little people pay taxes” --Leona Helmsley (Addressed to her housekeeper in 1983, and reported at her trial for tax evasion; in New York Times 12 July 1989 page B2.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 02, 2013.