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‘Busung,’ cursed Written by Herman Tiu Laurel Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00

Friday, July 27, 2012

‘Busung,’ cursed

I haven’t monitored any single State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the past decade. In fact, I didn’t even monitor any of such speeches during FVR’s time. It’s useless to listen to politicians who do not mean what they say and say what they do not mean. The only break I made in my Sona boycott was during the attenuated term of President Estrada. From Erap’s inaugural address down to his last in 2000, he always meant what he said and said what he meant. His “Para sa Mahirap” policy, for one, became the basis for his lowering MRT fares and his strident stonewalling of any power and water rate increases.

Compare that with the administrations of FVR down to Arroyo and today BS Aquino III, which have all chanted the mantra of “economic growth” even as the exploitation of the people continued to heighten unabated.

That mantra was again uttered the other day.  Instead of facing the issues frontally, BS Aquino III lies — like in the case of his Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, who, despite having caused the first quarter P65-billion power debacle in Mindanao, got lavish praises from him. Of course, not a single mention of this or the national power rate crisis came out of PeNoy’s speech.

Reports on BS Aquino’s praises for Almendras came practically from all sectors. However, the one from Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI) proprietor Jojo Borja particularly seethed with anger.

Imagine: ILPI’s power rate is only P5.76 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on a market base of 60,000 customers whereas the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), which has a far greater customer base, charges P13 per kWh.
I wonder what other Mindanaoans think now of BS Aquino III after listening to his Sona that was completely in denial of the critical issues of power cost and policy.  The same goes for the issue of water rates which are going to hit the people right in their gut.

And so, all those praises for Aquino’s Sona must only come from creatures of another planet or simply from those benefiting from the exploitative system.

For the rest who weighed in on BS Aquino’s plaudits for his Cabinet, here are some reactions:
Armin Luistro was praised for his job in the education sector while BS Aquino III boasted of increasing the budget for education under his administration. However, after what we saw in the chaotic implementation of the harebrained K+12 program, how can anyone still praise them?

The recruitment of 20,000 “volunteer” teachers to be paid P100 a day to fill in the posts, as mandated by the K+12 program, shows the folly in this administration’s planning as well as the condescending attitude of the Education chief (which is not surprising, seeing that he came from the elite La Salle milieu).
Worse, the lack of classrooms will be aggravated by K+12 because the classroom construction program under the public-private partnership (PPP) model will add a new layer of profit-taking that will certainly shrink the effective budget toward education.

Frankly, increases in the education budget are an annual exercise of every administration, even Gloria’s.  So BS Aquino III’s boast is, in fact, a disingenuous half-truth that seeks to present a distinctively progressive picture of oneself that is untrue.

Meanwhile, praises for the Agriculture Department’s Proceso Alcala were critiqued by members of the agricultural sector I had talked to, such as the head of the million strong Kammpii farmers’ association that has been waiting for government action on the ground to improve rice farmers’ production and marketing while only seeing little progress over the past two years.

The association leader added that the expansion of irrigation systems being claimed by BS Aquino III for his administration is just the regular increase that every administration has done the past decades, alongside the flawed policies that have not encouraged the increase of rice production.

With regard to the coconut sector, I talked to members of the coconut processors groups and the most significant report is that the Philippine Coconut Authority (the lead agency of the state for this sector) is now going to be the Philippine Coconut Lumber Authority (PCLA) as coconut cutting has now been deregulated in several southern Tagalog provinces — to the detriment of the coconut productivity campaign.

The flagship project of BS Aquino III and his Cabinet, the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, was given special mention in the recent Sona. But other than PeNoy’s self-congratulatory remarks, nearly everyone I spoke with noted a crucial presidential admission: That “there is no comprehensive evaluation of the CCT yet.”

How can a P21-billion program not have any comprehensive implementation evaluation one year after its start? That, according to the “people’s jury” of media analysts I met, only smacks of obfuscation to smokescreen untold anomalies.

But over and above the criticisms I have heard, the one that has got to be the most ominous comes from a Muslim ex-governor who showed me texts from many senders who had expressed the same disgust at BS Aquino III’s Sona.

Such text messages were peppered with “Busung” (which in Cebuano means “cursed”) in reference to BS Aquino III. The reason for the Muslim rancor? BS Aquino III failed to greet the Muslims on the start of the Ramadan that coincided with his speech. How could BSA III’s speech writers have missed that?

But aside from this, the panel of analysts also noted statistical fumbles, like the rosy crime statistics that contradicted police chief Nic Bartolome’s TV and radio admission that crime in the Metro increased 68 percent year-on-year from 18,400 to 28,700 cases; or the dengue statistics based on 2011 instead of 2012 data.

Who’s to blame? Look no further than the Presidential Management Staff — which goes to show that an Ateneo and Kennedy School of Government degree cannot guarantee competence in such vital tasks, which also sadly applies to the appointing power.

(Watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m. and on Sunday, this week on “Sin Tax Sins;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com).

(May pahintulot ng muling paglilimbag mula kay Ka Mentong)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/index.php/commentary/item/2068-%E2%80%98busung%E2%80%99-cursed


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