Of deaths and debts-A A +A
By Jun Ledesma
Thursday, July 26, 2012
LIKE most Pinoy government watchers I was glued for an hour and a half listening to the speech of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. I had expected that he will touch on graft corruption feeding us the redundancy of the issue of the incarceration former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona. But of course, I too anticipated that the President will take pride and credit for the credit rating upgrade that boosted the Philippine image in the world lending agencies and investors. We are just a nudge away from being an investment grade. Be that as it may, we are being watched.
But the President gave a small credit to our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for the billions of dollars they had infused into the economy. And then the meteoric rise of Business Process Outsourcing (call centers especially), which tremendously boosted the economy. These two engines of growth rallied on their own with nary a government assistance. These are two sectors which somehow are not susceptible to the virus of corruption simply because their sources of revenues are out of reach from the hungry detergents of government departments and agencies, congressmen and the influence peddlers of Malacañang.
The recitation of Pinoy which he read from the script was almost a monotony and a sleep-inducer. But I was startled when he attempted to raise the crescendo of voice to tell the nation that "kung noon tayo ay nangungutang, ngayon tayo na ang nagpapa-utang". Obviously he was referring to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas $1-billion loan to the International Monetary Fund which shall be used in part to prop the sagging economy of Greece and other European nations. While that outwardly is true, the fact is we are neck-deep in our indebtedness which had grown from P4.5-trillion during the time of Arroyo to P5.1-trillion as Noynoy was delivering his third Sona. The other day, Budget Secretary Butch Abad submitted to Congress a proposed budget for 2013 amounting to P2-trillion plus. He knew that the government collection agencies will likely miss their target ergo as early as now he is saying that the government is eyeing to borrow money anew from domestic and other international sources. This is in direct contravention to his boss declaration that the debt equations had been reversed.
On the other hand, this second Aquino administration is still lucky. The credit rating upgrade, especially if we successfully stride into the investment grade, will translate into more foreign investments coming in and the cost of money, like what the government intends to borrow, will have reduced interest.
The other shocker is the President's claim that the crime rate in the country is down by several notches! I think that the President's men are giving him the wrong statistics. As he was speaking in the fully secured Batasan Pambansa building, Nixon Cua who was shot close range and whose family was robbed, died in a hospital in Calamba, Laguna. Even before the reverberations of the President’s claim could die down an incendiary grenade exploded in General Santos City. Elsewhere children protected by the mantle of Kiko Pangilinan law on juvenile justice were committing crime in broad daylight with impunity.
It too is unfortunate that the present administration considers the conditional cash transfer program as an achievement. The government takes pride in the expansion of the program. I can be wrong, but I take a different view of this much ballyhooed poverty alleviating program in the sense that the bigger the number of people you dole out money to only reflects the failure of the government in creating jobs, in providing education to equip those with less educational qualification the tools to compete. We are creating mendicancy and indolence which can lead to a potential social problem in the future if they are cut from the umbilical cord of the Philippine treasury.
President Aquino never really has to trumpet anything to look handsome. Just keep off the path of corruption and this nation will be okay. It is a simple solution called “follow the leader.” If he is clean and his subalterns are clean, then this country can be great again. If he can only forego with his pork barrel and then tell congressmen to forego with theirs in return, then we are in the way to a clean government and a progressive country. Then maybe he can do with his staff overload and having done all these can look at how the savings can be expended to make Juan dela Cruz even more productive.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 27, 2012.