THE apparent inability of majority of Metro Manila local governments to respond quickly and fully to citizen requests for asset disclosure records of local officials, as well as documents on education, health, public safety and other essential services may well be a reflection of the Aquino administration’s own dithering over a Freedom of Information (FOI) law.
POLITICS and government, business and finance, education and culture. In all these and more, the national capital region, Metro Manila, is supposed to lead the rest of the nation. Here, bureaucrats and politicians thrive, mostly schooled and steeled in the art of governance and advisedly, the liberal ramparts of transparency and accountability.
It seems fair for citizens to expect that in Metro Manila, more than anywhere else in the Philippines, the people’s right to know and to access official information and documents would be respected. But that could well be plain wishful thinking for now.
TODAY President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will deliver her valedictory State of the Nation Address (SONA). The act is the highest level of public accountability for the president that is mandated in the Philippine Constitution – for the country’s chief executive to report to Congress, the bureaucracy, and the Filipino people on the state of the nation.
The question is which Arroyo will show up to deliver the SONA: A boastful, triumphant Arroyo, who will take credit for the Philippine economy’s uninterrupted expansion during her watch or an apologetic Arroyo, who has caused so much pain and misery for a lot of Filipinos and has managed to damage, in varying degrees, existing democratic institutions?
RAPID economic growth in recent years, perhaps one of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s few and widely acknowledged achievements amid the steady slide in her popularity ratings, could turn out to be as debatable as her devotion to good governance and anti-corruption.
As Arroyo delivers her ninth and presumably last state of the nation address on Monday, she is again expected to highlight her past economic achievements – even as the economy is poised to either shrink for the first time since 1998 or grow at its slowest in at least seven years. Already, gross domestic product, a measure of economic output, dropped by 2.3 percent in the first quarter from the previous period.
HER HANDLERS portray her as a hardworking president, but after eight years in power, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is looking more like being long on show and short on substance.
Indeed, while critics and observers alike acknowledge specific successes by her administration, they point out that more fundamental concerns were neglected in the pursuit of achieving these.
MORE THAN just a “take-or-pay” stricture, the P52-billion joint venture deal between the state-run Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and food-beverage giant San Miguel Corporation will require the Philippine government to issue a “performance undertaking,” a form of state commitment that the Arroyo administration has generally been wary of giving away.
A performance undertaking is a guarantee issued by the Republic that the state agency involved in a project will comply with all its obligations to the contractor, typically a private company.
MWSS officials address the apparent haste in the tender of the Laiban dam project.
SAN ANDRES, Tanay, Rizal – We were wondering why Sofia de la Rosa seemed a little agitated with our presence. After all, it’s not every day that visitors bother to come to this remote barangay nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre range.
In the course of our conversation, the barangay captain of San Andres also kept telling us that her people will not leave this village unless they are paid proper compensation by San Miguel.
THE Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) could be exposing itself and the government to undue financial risks under a negotiated deal with San Miguel Corporation to build the P52-billion Laiban dam. But the state agency tasked to evaluate the soundness of large-scale infrastructure projects has been unable to come to the aid of the MWSS – which may not even welcome such in the first place.
Like the rest of the public, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has been kept in the dark regarding the details of the proposed joint-venture agreement.