"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

P-Noy’s First 99 Days

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS
Chairman, Filipino United Network – USA

Last Thursday, October 7, 2010, on his first 99 days in office, President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III reported the impressive initial accomplishments of his administration and the fundamental changes he has instituted in the government so far, in his battle against corruption in the government and for the eradication of poverty in the nation.

The supposed report on his first 100 days, held a day earlier, before a standing-room only crowd at the La Consolacion College Auditorium adjacent to the Malacanang Palace ground, was symbolic of the extreme eagerness and anticipation of the people in their anxious quest for good governance under P-Noy.

Dubbed “Report Kay Boss,” addressing the Filipinos as his Boss when he was inaugurated June 30th and during this Town Hall Meeting that followed his official report, P-Noy masterfully answered queries from the panel and the audience in his usual casual tone, with honesty, sincerity, and humility. Even the rude, loud, and embarrassing distraction staged by some radical student protestors did not faze the President, who proceeded with equanimity to help clarify the budget issue. These students could have simply raised their hand and made the comment, just like all the others who asked questions. Obviously, these insensitive women were simply trying to get attention and hug the limelight, sacrificing proper decorum and decency.

Among those present at this historical event were members of P-Noy’s cabinet, Vice President Binay and other government officials, Tony Meloto of GK, representatives from the various sectors of the country, students from different colleges and universities, and Filipino-American leaders from the Filipino United Network-USA and We Are One Filipino.

“Isang Daang Araw, Isang Daang Matuwid” (One Hundred Days, One Straight/Honest Path,” says the invitation to this event, highlighting the basic policy, the hallmark of P-Noy’s administration: honesty, transparency, accountability, social justice and compassion for all, especially for the poor and the marginalized. Most noteworthy policy changes instituted so far, which are saving the nation billions, include abolition of duplicate and unnecessary offices/positions, curtailment of excessive salary and termination of bonuses, implementation of strict public bidding for government contracts and procurements, expense trimming and elimination of cost padding, no sacred cows, no padrino, reduction in foreign trips and expensive meals, no wang-wang.

P-Noy came home from his recent US trip bringing home at least 43,600 jobs for the Filipinos and $2.7 billion in fresh foreign investments for the Philippines, with the business process outsourcing industry (BPO) also signifying “that they will double again the number of people they have.” The bulk of the money “will fund programs for the poor, such as hospitals, cutting the cost of medicines and improving public services.”

The President “cited positive developments on the economic front, like the swelling of the gross international reserves to a record high of $52.3 billion as well as the stock market’s sterling performance.”

The $430 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Grant, which the Arroyo applied for twice for 9 years during her term, which were both rejected, was expeditiously handed to P-Noy, 3 months after his assumption into office. What a feat! Clearly, crime does not pay and honesty does.

“So, we are pleased that the things we were expecting in the first quarter of next year are already starting to happen now.” the President stated.

The Social Weather Survey showed P-Noy to have a 71% overall approval rating (+66% net), compared to the +24% starting score which Arroyo got in March 2001. This is indeed a healthy sign for the country, something we, Filipinos, can be proud of.

However, in spite of the good things President Aquino has accomplished and is trying to do to rebuild the nation’s integrity and country’s devastated condition resulting from the massive culture of corruption in the government, his political detractors, mostly amoral leaders who despise change and want to continue to plunder the nation, create every stumbling block possible to derail the President’s administration.

I guess this is not surprising and should actually be expected. Criminals will always be against anyone putting them out of business. While the past administration of Gloria Arroyo was immersed in corruption and was the problem, the present administration of P-Noy, which exudes with honesty and transparency, is trying in earnest to be the solution. And the crooks don’t like it.

The geniuses in our society who, term after term, continued to elect into office unscrupulous politicians and plunderers, are evidently equally corrupt themselves and deserving of the greatest brunt of the blame. Hopefully, the New Filipino, who catapulted P-Noy to Malacanang with a massive and historical landslide victory, will inspire and teach the rest of the electorate.

“Following the straight path is no joke. All of you involved in wrong governance and have caused troubles to the people, I guarantee you, your days are numbered,” President Aquino emphatically stated.

From where I sat at the Town Hall Meeting (right behind the President’s uncle, Peping Cojuangco), I could not help but wonder if the corrupt government officials feel any guilt and humiliation at all whenever they hear the stern warnings of P-Noy directed at them and see how the people thunderously applaud the president’s attack on them. If they still have any conscience at, these plunderers must be feeling like the lowest form of scavengers and bottom-feeding scum of the earth.

Then there are those who are impatient and without even an ounce of common sense. This unthinking bunch wants the massive problems of the Philippines solved overnight. The culture of corruption in our government has been with us for more than 3 decades. It is so entrenched in our system that it has even spilt over to the streets.

When I told him in 1981 that I thought he could be the answer to our nation’s woes, the President’s father, Ninoy, replied, “Primo, getting rid of the dictator is the first step, but that’s far from solving our national problems, because the vestiges of corruption and abuse will continue to plague our country.”

Indeed, no one President can magically make corruption and poverty disappear instantly. The gargantuan task might even take a generation or two. But like a journey of a thousand miles that begins with the first step,“We, the People,” have already taken that most essential initial step: we have elected an honest and compassionate man, who is the most reliable to lead our nation and our people to our great destiny. As a colleague said after P-Noy’s election, “we worked hard to help P-Noy win; now it is our responsibility to help him succeed.”

Let us be fair and realistic. Let us be patient. Let us give P-Noy a chance. Let us give him time to at least allow him to complete the changes we all want for our people and our country. Six years will certainly not be enough for any president to successfully treat the critical social and political cancers killing our country. At least, we now have an honest president, one with moral ascendancy and an honorable legacy to protect, a president who has broken the cycle of corruption at the top, and one who has taken the first bold and courageous step to battle corruption head-on, to rebuild our country, to regain our dignity, honor, and pride, as Filipinos and as a nation, with justice and equality for all. More importantly, let us stop whining and nit-picking while doing nothing. Let us step up to the plate and help our President carry the heavy cross on his shoulders as we watch him like a hawk. These are our obligations as good citizens and the least we can do to save our country and our people.

President Aquino has accomplished the first fundamental change in governance in his first 99 days. The day after, and the days that will follow, will not be perfect or smooth sailing all the way, but I bet you, the wonderful miracle for our nation we are all hoping for could yet be achieved sooner than we think, IF “We, the People,” all chip in and do our share in nation-building in the next 6 years and beyond.

P-Noy alone cannot do it. He knows it and has said so himself. So, let us roll up our sleeves and give him a hand. After all, together, we have a miracle to perform.

Please visit www.FUN8888.com Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana, USA, trained at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, is Chairman of Filipino United Network (FUN-USA), Vice Chairman of Filipino American Leadership Council (FALCONadvocacy) and Vice President for Far East of Cardiovascular Hospitals of America, Wichita, Kansas. He is a columnist for five newspapers and one magazine in the United States and five newspapers and one magazine in the Philippines.

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