Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feedback on ANC's Forum (Local Government Champions Face-to-Face with Four Presidentiables: Oct. 6)

EDITORIAL: Not ready for the Presidency
The Daily Tribune
October 8, 2009

Going by the forum meeting between a group of local executives four presidential aspirants, the answers Sen. Noynoy Aquino, the Liberal Party presidential bet, gave the local executives showed clearly that he just isn’t ready for the presidency, and worse, he does not appear to have any understanding of how government works or shouldn’t work, under a system of laws.

The answers he gave to the questions raised by the local executives were much too vague and indirect, offering nothing substantive, probably because he has no position on these issues in the first place or he is plain clueless.

He kept on going about democracy and people power in virtually every answer he gave, two issues which are not the issues at this time, but as he was still evidently following the campaign spiels taken by his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, including the "walang alam" bit which is better than having an experienced one that is corrupt, which criticism had been leveled against his mother, he continues to tread this path, which will hardly resonate with the voters, just as it did not resonate with the local officials present in that forum.

But it has been noted for sometime that Noynoy Aquino, even in media interviews, is always vague and never directly answers the questions and at times, even his answers are off tangent. Mar Roxas has also been noted to "save" the day for Noynoy by explaining what Noynoy meant to say.

Another thing going against Noynoy, no matter what his yellow supporters say, is that he can’t seem to make any decision unless and until he gets his four sisters — and their husbands apparently — to agree on a decision to be made.

Even when he holds "unity meetings" with other opposition bets, the sisters and their husbands are always present. Can’t he make a decision on his own and make a firm stand on issues? Is his presidency going to be a presidency of five Aquino siblings?

What is, however, surprising is the ignorance of Aquino in local government issues, which should have been right up his alley, given the fact that Aquino is the chairman of the local governments committee.

It was apparent that Noynoy, as chairman, never studied his lessons, nor for that matter, has he even called some kind of hearing — even now, with the disaster and the unpreparedness of MalacaƱang and the local government officials in addressing the needs of the typhoon victims, today being questioned by the public.

All Aquino said, by way of answers to the questions posed by the local governments, was that this and that have to studied first.

A bigger mistake he made was telling the local government executives that he wouldn’t, as president, be giving funds to the local government units that do not perform. But hey, such funds, meaning the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) fund is a must, as the law says the local government executives get 40 percent as IRA. To withhold it is unlawful and not to provide any funds to a non-performing LGU even when it is needed is unconscionable.

Outside of that, no specifics were given, no concrete examples were given on how he, as well as the other presidential bets, will go about their presidency in reforming the system, mainly because they really have no idea on how to bring about reforms, given their varied backgrounds.

If truth be told, none of the presidential aspirants invited to speak at the forum were impressive in their answers, but as all politicians do, they all mouthed motherhood statements, and from the faces of the audience, it was evident that the local officials were hardly impressed by the four presidentiables, with some looking much too bored.

As one former local executive put it, "If all that the candidate can tell us is that he will study it, we’ve been through that already. He has to say and do something good for us and the country."

Noynoy just lost a golden opportunity for him to prove to the nation that he is prepared for the presidency.

He just proved that he isn’t and won’t ever be.

About that job interview forum for President
By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Last Tuesday morning we watched on ANC the forum in AIM in Makati City with four presidentiables dubbed the 100 Local Government Champions face-to-face with the four presidentiables – Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and Sen. Manny Villar. They said this was more of a job interview for the presidency as the people in the forum who were asking the questions where officials of local government units (LGUs) from all over the country.

Call it timely that we also attended the “Understanding Choices Forum on Genuine Leadership and Good Governance: How Shall We Lead the Philippines in 2010” at the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation’s (RAFI) Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center (EADS) last Wednesday, and indeed, it was a great way of getting the criteria done in order to choose who should be the next president of this ailing nation.

The first presidentiable was Defense Secretary Teodoro who answered the question about peace in Mindanao. He pointed out that no one can claim to have a solution to the problems in Mindanao because the problems in Sulu are different from those in Compostela Valley or those in Maguindanao. Obviously, Gibo knows what he’s talking about.

He also pointed out correctly that one way for peace to move forward is for the government to disarm the armed groups roaming around Mindanao for various reasons. I have for so long written about this fact… that armed groups even proudly show their weapons on nationwide TV that only proves that there is a double standard in the application or enforcement of gun laws in this country. Defense Secretary Teodoro also stated that the military has been successful in neutralizing these armed groups… but the major problem is we cannot hold the territory for long. This is very true!

He added that we have only 120,000 men and women in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and another 130,000 in the Philippine National Police (PNP) despite our internal security problems, while Thailand, which has only a single internal threat in the south, has 300,000 men in arms, while Malaysia, which has no internal problems, has 130,000 military men. As I’ve always said, we can boost this number instantly by resurrecting the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC), the cheapest way to recruit the youth.

On the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, Secretary Teodoro had this to say, “Population management is a necessary thing… the RH Bill minus certain punitive provisions may work… but I’m totally against abortion! Religious organizations have a very important role, but not through the state, but through the conscience of the people.” On the issue of Charter change, Gibo was very emphatic that there will be a constitutional convention (con-con) if he is elected president. This is something that brings hope to the rest of the country, more so that we are now seeing that Metro Manila, despite having the biggest slice of the nation’s revenues, cannot even fix itself due to tropical storm “Ondoy,” and federalism might just be the key to give full autonomy to the LGUs.

As for Sen. Manny Villar, he apparently believes that we don’t need a new system of governance… all we need is good leadership. This runs counter to my belief that even with good leadership, which we already had before during the terms of Tita Cory and President FVR, this nation still hasn’t moved forward. So what can we expect under a Sen. Manny Villar presidency… same as usual?

Among the four presidentiables, Sen. Escudero had the best charisma. He is young, talented and knows the issues very well. However, he failed to realize that some of the LGU officials asked their questions in English because they really cannot understand Tagalog. If he listens to good advice as he said he would, then if he is asked a question in English, he must learn to answer it in English, not in his monotone Tagalog.

Last to be interviewed was Sen. Aquino and when asked about Charter change, he replied: “We need to go into a national debate on whether this is what the people want.” He emphasized that his government will be a government of consultation. Perhaps Sen. Noynoy should be told that natural-born leaders take the bull by its horns and lead the people because they know what is good for the people.

If our Lord Jesus Christ consulted his Apostles and threw the question to them on whether he should die on the cross, I’m sure that the Apostles would have voted for him not to sacrifice his life and die on the cross. It’s not too late for Noynoy to change his attitude or approach and be a true leader. This is the first time that the four presidentiables have squared off; if they meet again, we can be more definite as to who we should elect as president.

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