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A Philippine dream

With the 2016 presidential election hogging the news daily, we Filipinos are now preoccupied with discussions on who our next leader will be. Personalities have always been at the center of our choice, but what about choosing a president on the basis of his/her platform of government, one that embodies necessary programs and policies? The following will require new legislation, and thus it is imperative that the party of the new president have majority control of both the

Senate and the House of Representatives.

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Technology-based government. The use of technology in government is seriously lacking. There exists technology that will enable a more

efficient system in terms of tax collection, delivery of basic services to the people (health, education, law enforcement, etc.) and fighting criminality.

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A broadband program that will bring about low-cost, high-speed Internet and telecommunications technology nationwide should be a priority.

National ID system. We need a national ID system that is biometric and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to falsify. The one currently in use by the Social Security System can be extended to cover the rest of the population. A national ID system can be used by agencies such as the Commission on Elections, Bureau of Internal Revenue, PhilHealth, PhilPost, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Philippine National Police/National Bureau of Investigation. It is a waste of precious government resources for many of our agencies to have their own ID system when a uniform/universal one will be more efficient.

Centralized procurement system. A Department of Procurement that will handle all the purchases of national and local agencies and instrumentalities above a certain amount should be established to minimize, if not eliminate, corruption in government purchases. The current Government Procurement Reform Act, even with the involvement of the Commission on Audit, has proved to be ineffective, as evident from the never-ending disclosures and investigations of corruption. Centralizing procurement in one department that is transparent, web-based and professionally-run will not only minimize or eliminate corruption but also allow for government purchases to be obtained at the best price.

Combating corruption. Allegations of corruption involving amounts of P50 million or more should be investigated immediately and settled, with the accused convicted or acquitted within three to six months. If necessary, daily hearings should be held. Parties and persons covering up the crime should be equally charged as principals for obstruction of justice. The guilty should be confined in a regular jail and not in a hospital or provided special accommodations. All the resources of the government, including reports in possession of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the statements of assets and liabilities of government officials should be made available in ferreting out the corrupt. Whistle-blowers should be provided adequate protection and rewards.

Free education and healthcare. Good-quality and free education should be made available up to the high school level to give our very poor a true opportunity to lift themselves from poverty. The medium of instruction after grade school should be English, considering that we need English for our overseas Filipino workers and employees of call centers and the tourism industry. These are the areas that hold significant promise to our people with respect to job creation. The information available on the Internet is generally in English and is the key to knowledge and skills acquisition that are of global standards. To ensure that the quality of education in public schools is kept high, local and national government officials should be required to send at least one of their children, where applicable, to the nearest public school in their place of residence.

Every Filipino, no matter how poor, should be entitled to adequate medical care. Gone should be the days when the ailing poor die because they cannot afford to see a doctor or be treated in a hospital, or do not have access to medicine. A key component of the healthcare program should be prevention, which includes educating and encouraging the people on proper nutrition, exercise and healthy habits.

Infrastructure development. To improve Philippine competitiveness, there should be adequate infrastructure to lower the costs of production (e.g., electricity, transportation) and minimize wasted hours in traffic. Evaluation of private-public partnership (PPP) infrastructure proposals should be assigned to the earlier-mentioned Department of Procurement, to speed up the approval process. These infrastructures should address the nation’s needs for the next five to 20 years and not just the next few years, as currently in practice. Proper urban planning should be applied and carried out.

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Efficient tax collection. Many of these programs will cost money, which will be provided by a more efficient tax collection system that is heavily IT-based. Higher tax revenues will bring about a more vibrant economy that encourages foreign direct investments, savings on leakages from corruption, PPPs and, lastly, low-cost government borrowings.

Space limitations preclude a more extensive discussion of these programs and inclusion of other key national issues. Nevertheless, these can serve as a framework for a new president’s platform of government.

David L. Balangue ([email protected]) is the chair of the Coalition Against Corruption and founder of the [email protected]

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, column, david l. balangue, platform of government
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