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It’s as clear as day: The campaign season has started. And Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s advice to voters makes profound sense: Don’t vote for those involved in the pork barrel controversy. But don’t stop there, she said. Shun as well those who have remained “consistently silent” in the face of staggering criminality in public office, those who refuse to take their colleagues to task for their corruption, those whose political considerations trump their sworn duty to root out and condemn venality in government.
Just last month, congressional leaders promised to push passage of a bill increasing the amount of bonuses and benefits to be exempt from income tax.
So, as it turns out, fugitive businessman Delfin Lee was hiding in plain sight. Despite a P2-million reward offered since August 2012, one of the country’s most wanted men continued to live, more or less, like a free man, or at least like a man who had nothing to fear from the authorities.
The revival of the Pasig River Ferry comes across as an afterthought, but it’s a welcome idea just the same in view of the traffic gridlock feared to occur when an estimated 15 road projects get underway all at the same time in Metro Manila. (As it is, the traffic situation is a recurring nightmare.)
There are inspiring reasons why Filipino women should salute themselves in marking International Women’s Day today.
Dennis Cunanan, the director general (on leave) of the Technology Resource Center, was the first government official allegedly involved in the so-called pork barrel scam to testify before the Senate blue ribbon committee; that fact gave his appearance at Thursday’s hearing additional import. His position at an agency which channeled Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to suspect beneficiary organizations specifically identified by the offices of at least three senators could illuminate how the scam operated. At the same time, it raised the standards by which he and his testimony, and his application to turn state’s witness, must be judged.
The controversial print ad that the Bureau of Internal Revenue ran as part of its ongoing shame campaign showed a doctor being carried on the back of a schoolteacher, a comparison of their incomes and taxes paid, and the campaign’s tagline: “When you don’t pay your taxes, you’re a burden to those who do.”
But why is the proposal to form a special court to try cases arising from the pork barrel scam being dismissed so peremptorily? Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s proposition deserves at least some serious thought, but two of his colleagues—Senators Francis Escudero and Teofisto Guingona III—have immediately thumbed down the idea.
The desire of the Aquino administration to ensure that its actions are corruption-free and can stand up to scrutiny is backfiring. Half of its term is over but there is so much yet to be done to restructure the economy for it to generate the jobs required to reduce poverty. And we’re not even mentioning the stalled projects under the flagship Public-Private Partnership program.
Despite our continued exposure to an excess of high-profile or sensational crimes, the assassination of a judge still sends us reeling, still strikes us as deeply offensive. Why? Because we sense it for what it is: an attack on something fundamental, something basic, to our way of life.
The Grameen Bank, which extends small loans to the poor without requiring collateral, is a godsend for impoverished families in Bangladesh. Founded in 1976, the bank (Grameen is “village” in the native tongue) has a simple philosophy: Offer small loan amounts for start-up businesses, make sure that loans are used for what they are intended and that payments are made (peer pressure is often employed in communities). Through the innovative concept of microfinancing, the Grameen Bank has gone on to help the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh. It was made an independent bank by law in 1983, with 90 percent owned by its borrowers and 10 percent by the government.
The good news: The antidynasty bill pending in the House of Representatives has hurdled the committee level—the first time for such a development. To understand why it can qualify as a minor miracle, consider that as much as 70 percent of the members of the current Congress are products of political dynasties. The antidynasty provision present in the Constitution since 1986 has not been fleshed out all this time, simply because legislators will not commit self-immolation by enacting a law that would gut their families’ reliable power base.