Freedom from thieves
President Benigno Aquino III during last Sunday’s celebration of the 113th anniversary of Philippine independence said Filipinos have begun experiencing true freedom in part because of the achievements of his administration so far.
He was wise to temper his exuberance by saying “As long as the corrupt are not wiped out, the poor will remain in our midst. If we want to free our country, we must free the government and ourselves from greed.”
With barely a month until he delivers his second State of the Nation Address, we can at least give P-Noy the props for spurring the crafting and signing of the Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Governance Act of 2011.
The signing of the new law, which Malacañang says will put an end to excessive pay, perks and privileges and other abuses of appointed executives in GOCCs starting July 1, shows the President did not merely report about the culture of excess in GOCCs to shock and awe the nation in his first Sona but is serious about reducing inequality and spreading the wealth.
(Apparently the greedy in GOCCs even reach for more than their mind-boggling compensation and benefits as shown in the Ombudsman Visayas’ sacking last week of Metropolitan Cebu Water District supervisor Nicasio Supapo for misappropriating P1.2 million in pipe fittings).
Aquino also showed resolve in combatting corruption when he appointed commissioner of the Commission on Audit whistleblower Heidi Mendoza, who helped prosecute former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
The President now stands at an important juncture in his “straight path” crusade. He will have to pick from among the recommendees of the Judicial and Bar Council the country’s next Tanodbayan on or before Aug. 6, following Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez’s resignation days after the Lower House impeached her earlier this year.
The appointment is important because the next Ombudsman has, among other tasks, to investigate and if necessary prosecute for various crimes former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga’s 2nd District, after a Supreme Court packed with GMA appointees struck down as unconstitutional President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 establishing a Truth Commission.
That same new Ombudsman will follow through what has been started by the assistant tanodbayans of the Visayas in going after whoever may be culpable in fishy government transactions like Cebu province’s Baliligate.
If the independent branches and agencies of the government—COA, the Ombudsman and Congress—under Aquino function to maximum effect, his administration will take great strides in securing the nation’s coffers from the corrupt—who suck away at least 30 percent of our budget annually—and freeing the masses from the shackles of poverty.
And Jose Rizal, born 150 years ago this Sunday, would smile over a feat against the cancer of corruption that he railed against even in his day.
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