How our government should lead and not mislead
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2019 - 12:00am

According to the Supreme Court the enforcement of the national budget is indisputably a function both constitutionally assigned and properly entrusted to the Executive branch of government, hence President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. I quote STAR columnist Atty. Jose C. Sison (A Law Each Day): “His highly touted fight against graft and corruption is a sham as his minions in the Lower House once more restored and inserted the ‘Pork Barrel’ in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019. He failed as our top leader to exercise his veto powers as President to remove the insertions in the 2019 GAA.”

Uninterrupted doleouts, prime mover of corruption

Why do we have dynasties? Why were former President Joseph Estrada, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr. charged with plunder and arrested, then acquitted and now running for election? What happened to our justice system?

Filipinos have been grievously cheated and misled when, in July 2013, the NBI uncovered the fraud by a syndicate using funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers – six whistleblowers declared that JLN Corp. (of Janet Lim Napoles) swindled some P10 billion from public coffers for ghost projects using no less than dummy NGOs from 1999 to 2009.

If we truly acquired independence in 1946 our government should have made sure that the people be economically independent. Instead of the country ascending to economic stability, presidents, senators, congressmen, mayors with uninterrupted dole outs have been spoiling the people who have lost the power to sustain themselves. Democracy was crippled especially during the Marcos governance. Atty. Sison also mentioned, “From the Marcos martial law regime and post martial law era, congressional pork was in existence in various categories like the Support for Local Development Projects (SLDP); the Mindanao Development Fund; the Visayas Development Fund; and the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) during the Cory Aquino administration that was also adopted by the Ramos administration, aside from congressional insertions (CIs) and CDF. The CIs and CDF were removed during the Estrada administration and replaced by the Food Security Program, the Lingap Para sa Mahirap Fund, and the Rural/Urban Development Infrastructure Fund. It was also during Estrada’s administration that the Priority Development and Assistance Fund (PDAF) first appeared in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) in 2000 and continued during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration (2001-2010) and the succeeding years.”

Can governors, mayors realize Agenda 30 for Sustainability?

The realization of Agenda 30 for Sustainability should start at the local level and it is only possible with increased and improved local delivery of basic social services: education, health, and water services. After almost three decades of the passage of RA 7160 (1991 devolution of power from national to local government), the responsibility of delivering basic social services through DepEd, DA (agriculture), DSWD, DOH (health) was devolved to the local government units. The process of devolution entailed restructuring from the national to the local levels. To finance the devolvement strategy, the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and one percent of the Real Property Tax were instituted. Unfortunately several LGUs became dependent on this limited fund, instead of developing occupational skills training and entrepreneurship of the barangay constituents.

To conduct a study on the local delivery of basic social services with focus on the three sectors, namely maternal and child health, public elementary and secondary education, and potable water supply, UNICEF commissioned the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). Headed by UNESCO Social and Human Science Commissioner and PIDS president Josef T. Yap, the six-man team presented the results of a six-month survey in 10 provinces, 12 cities, 10 municipalities, and 30 barangays in ten regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Part of an Economic Policy Discussion Series was held on June 15, 2010 in NEDA where I was among the participants.

High infant mortality rate, increasing adult illiterates trigger poverty

 Colin Davis, UNICEF deputy country representative, stated that UNICEF has been granting 70 percent of its funds to Filipino children and mothers particularly to enact better ordinances for their welfare. Unfortunately, data for result-based management have been missing since 1991. LGUs prescribe good programs on paper but fail to get things done. There are inadequate professional doctors for pregnant mothers and ailing children. Villagers are forced to resort to hilot, local “midwives” without professional training. Without prenatal training and care the maternal and infant mortality rate remains high. High incidence of Maternal Mortality Ratio in the Philippines per 1,000 live births are found in Region 11 Davao (1.22); ARMM (1.00); Region IV-B MIMAROPA (.98); Region XIII CARAGA (.95); Iloilo/Capiz/Negros Occidental (.92); Bicol (.90); Samar/Leyte (.88); Zamboanga (.80).

Children, especially in the mountain and coastal areas have no access to primary education or they easily drop out of school due to irrelevant curriculum and untrained “para-teachers” who receive low wages. This causes a yearly increase of adult illiterates who are unemployable, thus sinking the country deeper and deeper in poverty.

Urgently needed – community lifelong learning centers

Mr. Davis feels that these predicaments can be resolved by the Community Lifelong Learning Center (CLC) for sustainable development of the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILL), which has been part of a 2017 synthesis report on community learning centers in six Asian countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. CLC is an institution wholly owned and managed by the community. The contribution of the government is a special budget to facilitate and monitor its sustainability. Managed by the local people the center provides need-based education and training for the development of the community and the improvement of people’s lives. Since 2003, five Pagsasarili Twin Projects for mothers and children in the Ifugao World Heritage community have sustained their Montessori-inspired preschool and functional literacy program for mothers with the assistance of their mayors and DSWD head Joyce Niwani. In Kiangan, this project has been receiving continuous support from its former Mayor Teddy Baguilat and incumbent Mayor Joselito Guyguyon. Trained by Cora Jacob, 10 women weavers develop very saleable bags, garments, and office accessories, echoing their training to other villages.

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