In this issue:
NELSON MARTINEZ has only one child, but he says getting by each day has become even tougher because oil price hikes have diminished his earnings.
The 46-year-old who drives his own jeepney for a living complains, “It’s the little people who have been hit, and it’s hitting us hardest in the pocket.”
IF THIS country were a family, it is unhealthy, lacking in education and employment opportunities, is deep in debt and spends its limited budget on the wrong things.
This is despite the fact that the head of this household called the Philippines is someone whose expertise is economics.
VALLEHERMOSO, CARMEN, BOHOL — Had she been in the same situation eight years ago, Jesusa Panes would have probably just given birth at home, even without her husband in sight, and even if her neighbor the hilot (traditional birthing attendant) happened to be drunk. But things have not been the same for expectant mothers in this town since 2002, and so when the child in her belly starting demanding to be let out, Panes began trudging toward the birthing center that was several minutes away by foot from her home.
UNLIQUIDATED CASH advances, “loans” without records, donations diverted to uses not prescribed by donors, understated expenses, and overstated accounts, in the hundreds of millions of pesos, all sourced from taxpayers’ money.
These irregular transactions in clear breach of government accounting and auditing rules mark financial transactions in the Office of the President (OP) under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2007, according to Commission on Audit (COA) report, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
IN 2007, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidency spent a total of P249.5 million to pay the salaries and wages of its regular employees; and P10.7 million to pay casual and contractual employees.
Combined, that means P260.2 million to pay the rank and file of the Office of the President, and 58 other executive offices, agencies, commissions, and committees under Arroyo.
NAGA CITY’S successes in its poverty alleviation efforts no doubt allowed it to focus its resources on improving access to basic services like education. But all its education reform efforts could not have been possible without its reinvention of the local school board.
The transformation began in 2001, when the MDGs were largely unheard of and a national government directive for the goals to be localized and included in development planning processes was yet forthcoming. But Naga’s decision then to revamp the school board’s orientation and organizational structure later put the city in a better position to address the gaps in achieving the MDG targets in education.
NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR — If one were to put local governments in a classroom setting, the executive body of this thriving city southwest of Metro Manila would be the overachieving nerd, the one guaranteed to garner the most medals at the end of each term.
So when Naga City received a failing grade in one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — achieving universal primary education — local officials characteristically lost no time in dreaming up a program aimed at improving its score. It’s a situation made even more challenging by the city’s demographics: one out of every three Nagueño is of school age. But as Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo put it, “We need to address the continuing inability of our school system to ensure that no child is left behind.”
KAHIKUKUK, BANGUIGUI, SULU — Asaali Muhalli is no ancient mariner, but there was a time when his lament was practically an echo of that of the protagonist in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem: “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”
IT WON’T be over even after the lady signs. And even after she signs it, the fight for popular access to affordable medicines won’t be over.
All that the cheaper medicines bill needs to be enacted into law is the signature of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But some legal experts lament that as enrolled, the bill passed by Congress bears “imperfections” that effectively affirm the patent rights of big pharmaceutical companies over public health, a major hurdle to bringing down drug prices.
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