JUSTICE CARPIO: AQUINO 'CASTRATED' CONGRESS' POWER OF THE PURSE

JULY 3 --Despite the good intentions to push for economic growth, President Benigno Aquino III under the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program has “castrated” Congress’ exclusive power of the purse, making it “inutile and a surplasage,” Supreme Court’s Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said. In his 27-page separate opinion, Carpio said surprisingly many senators and congressmen supported DAP and National Budget Circular 541, the so-called ‘bible’ for DAP “when these Executive Acts actually castrate the power of the purse of Congress.” “This Court cannot allow a castration of a vital part of the checks-and-balances enshrined in the Constitution, even if the branch adversely affected suicidally consents to it. The solemn duty of this Court is to uphold the Constitution and to strike down the DAP and NBC 541,” Carpio said.
Carpio said Aquino in the middle of the fiscal year of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) under the DAP and NBC 541 can declare all maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for future months (except for mandatory expenditures and expenditures for business-type activities), as well as all unobligated outlays, as savings and realign such savings to what he deems are priority projects, whether or not such projects have existing appropriations in the GAA.* READ MORE...

(ALSO) Palace on DAP: We did nothing wrong

JULY 3 --You won’t be hearing any apology from Malacañang on the partial unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because there’s nothing to be sorry about, an official said Thursday. “Pag sinabing magso-sorry ka may ginawa kang kasalanan. Wala po kaming ginawang kasalanan hinggil dito (When you say sorry, it means you did something wrong. We did nothing wrong here),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. when asked if the administration will apologize for DAP. Coloma insisted that although the now defunct DAP was declared unconstitutional, it did not mean there was wrongdoing. His statement echoed Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s earlier argument that unconstitutionality does not equate to criminality. Coloma also cited portions of the Supreme Court decision, which was released in full on Thursday morning, stating the application of the doctrine of operative fact, which allows the effects of the nullified act to be retained. “We note further that in its decision the high tribunal stated—and I quote—’the implementation of the DAP yielded undeniably positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country… Not to apply the doctrine of operative fact to the DAP could literally cause the physical undoing of such worthy results by destruction and would result in most undesirable wastefulness,’” Coloma said.* READ MORE...

ALSO: Pro-Aquino blocs in House vow to block impeachment moves

JULY 3 --Various blocs in the House of Representatives vowed to block moves to impeach President Benigno Aquino III over the latest Supreme Court decision calling the president’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) illegal. In a text message on Wednesday, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said the pro-Aquino blocs in the House would “collectively block any attempt to impeach President Aquino regarding DAP.”
These are: -Bicol bloc led by Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, - Southern Tagalog bloc led by Laguna Rep. Joaquin Chipeco, -Muslim bloc by Lanao Del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong,
-Visayan bloc by Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas The National Unity Party bloc is led by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Mindanao bloc by Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Cordillera Administrative Region bloc by Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, Metro Manila bloc by Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice and Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, Ilocos bloc by Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, and Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe. The lawmakers vowed to make the move as the militant bloc said it would file an impeachment complaint against Aquino over DAP.* READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay calls Aquino impeach move ‘unproductive, divisive’

JULY 2 --Vice President Jejomar Binay thumbed down calls to impeach President Benigno Aquino III, saying such move was “unproductive and divisive.” “President Aquino is our leader duly elected by our people. He has the people’s mandate and we should support him,” Binay said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is why talks of impeaching President Aquino are both unproductive and divisive,” he said, reacting to some groups’ call for Aquino’s impeachment following the Supreme Court’s decision, declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. Instead, Binay called for sobriety and an end to partisanship and speculation on the extent of liabilities of government officials. “I would instead encourage all parties to set aside partisan political acts and just accept and respect the ruling of the SC,” said Binay. “As to the accountabilities of other government officials, we should let the effects of the SC decision take its course. As of now, none of us has read the decision in its entirety so any discussion accountabilities at this point on is purely speculative.” Binay also appealed to all parties “to work together and advance the welfare of our people, which should be our overriding goal.” THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Impeach rap poised vs. Aquino after SC's DAP ruling 

JULY 1 --Youth organizations led by the Kabataan party-list are set to file an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III for "inventing and abusing" the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Tuesday. Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DAP “greatly bolstered” the impeachment complaint his group was drafting against Aquino. “[The decision] is a ‘solid ground’ for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, both of which are impeachable offenses,” Ridon said. Sought for comment on the plan to impeach Aquino, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told GMA News Online it was "better to wait for the full decision [of the Supreme Court] before [we] respond." Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., a member of Aquino's Liberal Party and his top ally in the House of Representatives, said the President couldn't be impeached over DAP because he implemented it with “good faith and sincere intentions.” “Incidentally, [there are] no votes [for the complaint to be approved by the House],” Belmonte told reporters in a text message. Aside from filing an impeachment case against the President, the youth organizations are also planning to file malversation charges against Budget Sec. Florencio Abad since he was one of the principal government officials involved in the implementation of DAP. “Abad clearly committed malversation in crafting and implementing the multibillion peso DAP. We will file the appropriate charges against him at the soonest,” Ridon said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: The President’s newsboy: StoriesOfGiving  

JULY 5 --The streets are loud with traffic as people go about their daily commute. The endless parade of cars, wheels and smoke moves in the moment when the lights shift from green to yellow and back to red. Then he makes his move. Pepito Rayos stands by the sidewalk on the corner of Nagtahan and Guanzon Streets, an area of Manila like a crossroads of political power. Now pushing 70, his daily routine is quite unlike that of others his age: he jumps into the gridlock when vehicles stop, his left hand clutching a bundle of the day’s newspapers and a tray of candies and cigarettes, while his right calls the attention of drivers and commuters. He wears an unmistakable smile that betrays his years. One of his regular clients is the resident of nearby Bahay Pangarap, the country’s Chief Executive, who is said to never let a day pass without rummaging through the country’s top papers, notably The STAR. Has he ever met or spoken to the President? “No,” he shakes his head, but he would love the chance to do so and meet his favorite client. “Sa lahat ng naging Presidente, si PNoy ang idol ko. Lahat ng sinasabi niya makatotohanan (Of all the Presidents we have had, PNoy is my idol. Everything he says is truthful),” Rayos said. * READ MORE...

ALSO Inquirer commentary: Managing poverty reduction 

JULY 3 --It doesn’t need managing, it needs eliminating. And there’s only one way to do that: Create well-paying jobs. The “well-paying” bit is overlooked in government, where even nonpaying jobs (on the farm for dad, particularly) are considered in the statistics. I rely better on Social Weather Stations (SWS), where I find the stats more believable. What I find unbelievable is that there are more without jobs now than there were four years ago, or 14 years ago. The percentages look better, but the mathematical base has grown as the population grows. People are jobs, not percentages. So we’re getting nowhere. A worrying aspect of the Philippines’ development in recent decades is not only slow growth but also that inclusive growth hasn’t occurred as economic growth accelerates. The slow pace of poverty reduction and the persistently high level of economic inequality have not been addressed. Among the major East Asian economies, the Philippines has had the slowest rate of poverty reduction in the last three decades, and today has one of the highest incidence among its Asian neighbors. By the way, has anyone in government ever noticed that in almost every measure of comparison, the Philippines ranks last, or close to it, among its Asean friends? And this has gone on with only slight, if any, improvements. It’s that way because of the insufficient focus on including the poor and the unemployed. Oh, there’s much talk about it, but not the actions that would resolve it. The numbers confirm it. Using the same definition of unemployment (it was changed in 2005) which, for comparison, you must do, the official number of jobless Filipinos rose to an estimated 4.2 million from 3.5 million in 2000, which translates to some 700,000 more without work today. A more believable SWS says there are 12.1 million unemployed Filipinos as of end-2013, much higher than the 9.9 million without a job in November 2010. * READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

Justice Carpio: Aquino ‘castrated’ Congress’ power of the purse


Supreme Court’s Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

MANILA, JULY 6, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Tetch Torres-Tupas – Despite the good intentions to push for economic growth, President Benigno Aquino III under the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program has “castrated” Congress’ exclusive power of the purse, making it “inutile and a surplasage,” Supreme Court’s Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.

In his 27-page separate opinion, Carpio said surprisingly many senators and congressmen supported DAP and National Budget Circular 541, the so-called ‘bible’ for DAP “when these Executive Acts actually castrate the power of the purse of Congress.”

“This Court cannot allow a castration of a vital part of the checks-and-balances enshrined in the Constitution, even if the branch adversely affected suicidally consents to it. The solemn duty of this Court is to uphold the Constitution and to strike down the DAP and NBC 541,” Carpio said.

Carpio said Aquino in the middle of the fiscal year of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) under the DAP and NBC 541 can declare all maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for future months (except for mandatory expenditures and expenditures for business-type activities), as well as all unobligated outlays, as savings and realign such savings to what he deems are priority projects, whether or not such projects have existing appropriations in the GAA.

* At the same time, Carpio explained that the President is sworn to uphold and faithfully implement the GAA since it is a law and that once the President approves the GAA or allows it to lapse into law, he can no longer veto or cancel any item in the GAA or impound the disbursement of funds authorized to be spent in the GAA.

He added that the President under Section 38, Chapter V, Book VI of the Administrative Code of 1987 is allowed to suspend or otherwise stop further expenditure of appropriated funds but this must be for legitimate purpose, such as when there are anomalies in the implementation of a project of in the disbursement of funds.

“Section 38 cannot be read to authorize the President to permanently stop so as to cancel the implementation of a project in the GAA because the President has no power to amend the law, and the GAA is a law. Section 38 cannot also be read to authorize the President to impound the disbursement of funds for projects approved in the GAA because the President has no power to impound funds approved by Congress,” Carpio said.

Carpio also stressed that the DAP funds cannot constitute as savings adding that as long as the “appropriated funds are still obligated, the funds cannot constitute savings because savings as defined in the GAA, must come from appropriations that are “free from any obligation or encumbrance.”

Palace on DAP: We did nothing wrong
By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net2:50 pm | Thursday, July 3rd, 2014


Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — You won’t be hearing any apology from Malacañang on the partial unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because there’s nothing to be sorry about, an official said Thursday.

“Pag sinabing magso-sorry ka may ginawa kang kasalanan. Wala po kaming ginawang kasalanan hinggil dito (When you say sorry, it means you did something wrong. We did nothing wrong here),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. when asked if the administration will apologize for DAP.

Coloma insisted that although the now defunct DAP was declared unconstitutional, it did not mean there was wrongdoing.

His statement echoed Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s earlier argument that unconstitutionality does not equate to criminality.

Coloma also cited portions of the Supreme Court decision, which was released in full on Thursday morning, stating the application of the doctrine of operative fact, which allows the effects of the nullified act to be retained.

“We note further that in its decision the high tribunal stated—and I quote—’the implementation of the DAP yielded undeniably positive results that enhanced the economic welfare of the country… Not to apply the doctrine of operative fact to the DAP could literally cause the physical undoing of such worthy results by destruction and would result in most undesirable wastefulness,’” Coloma said.

Defending good faith

The Secretary reiterated that the executive branch “exercised good faith and due diligence, in accordance with existing laws and pertinent auditing rules and procedures” in implementing the controversial program.

He said those questioning the administration’s “good faith” should be the ones to prove it is not true.

“Kung merong mga tao, indibidwal o grupo na tatanggi diyan, hindi na para sa akin para ipaliwanag pa ‘yung pagtanggi nila. Hayaan nating ipahayag nila ‘yung kanilang pagkontra sa aming sinabi at ipakita kung paano sila tama o paano kami mali,” he said.

(If there are people, any individual or group, who opposes that, it is not for me to explain. They should be the ones to express their opposition and explain why they are right or why we are wrong.)
Accountability
Coloma said it’s “the call of the President” Benigno Aquino III if Budget Secretary Florencio Abad would be asked to account for DAP.

Asked if Aquino and Abad already discussed the case, he said, “I have not inquired into the extent of their discussion, but I believe they have talked about it.”

At the same time, the Secretary clarified that officials and lawmakers found to have misused public funds should be held accountable.

“Yung ginawa nila, responsibilidad nila ‘yon bilang public official (What they did is their responsibility as public official),” he said.

Coloma said there is no need for the Executive to facilitate its own investigation since “There are already built-in mechanisms for accountability, and committed as we are to the good governance principles, these are operative day after day and have never been suspended at any time.”

While Lacierda already said that the SC ruling should not be used as basis for Aquino’s impeachment, Coloma said it is the prerogative of the House of Representatives.

“Hahayaan natin ang mga miyembro na magpasya rin hinggil diyan dahil ‘yon naman ay karapatan nila bilang hiwalay at kapantay na sangay ng pamahalaan,” the Secretary said.
(The members will decide on that because it is their right as a separate and co-equal branch of government.)

In the end, Coloma said they will continue to study and discuss the 92-page decision of the Supreme Court.

“We really would like to gain a more comprehensive understanding of all of those issues, rather than taking potshots here and there. We prefer that that is the best way to understand the decision and to adopt the necessary actions moving forward,” he said.

Pro-Aquino blocs in House vow to block impeachment moves
By Marc Jayson Cayabyab |INQUIRER.net3:43 pm | Thursday, July 3rd, 2014


Legislators congratulate Aquino after delivering his first 2010 SONA where he pushed for Public-Private Partnerships to augment state funds (Photo from AP/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines—Various blocs in the House of Representatives vowed to block moves to impeach President Benigno Aquino III over the latest Supreme Court decision calling the president’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) illegal.

In a text message on Wednesday, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said the pro-Aquino blocs in the House would “collectively block any attempt to impeach President Aquino regarding DAP.”

These are:
-Bicol bloc led by Rep. Cesar Sarmiento,
- Southern Tagalog bloc led by Laguna Rep. Joaquin Chipeco,
-Muslim bloc by Lanao Del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong,
-Visayan bloc by Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas

The National Unity Party bloc is led by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Mindanao bloc by Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Cordillera Administrative Region bloc by Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, Metro Manila bloc by Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice and Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, Ilocos bloc by Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, and Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe.

The lawmakers vowed to make the move as the militant bloc said it would file an impeachment complaint against Aquino over DAP.

DAP funds, essentially an economic stimulus fund, have been criticized after Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada exposed that the presidential pork barrel funds were given allegedly as incentives to senators who voted to oust convicted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Estrada is now charged and detained over plunder for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Binay calls Aquino impeach move ‘unproductive, divisive’ By Maila Ager |INQUIRER.net5:25 pm | Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014


Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay thumbed down calls to impeach President Benigno Aquino III, saying such move was “unproductive and divisive.”

“President Aquino is our leader duly elected by our people. He has the people’s mandate and we should support him,” Binay said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is why talks of impeaching President Aquino are both unproductive and divisive,” he said, reacting to some groups’ call for Aquino’s impeachment following the Supreme Court’s decision, declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

Instead, Binay called for sobriety and an end to partisanship and speculation on the extent of liabilities of government officials.

“I would instead encourage all parties to set aside partisan political acts and just accept and respect the ruling of the SC,” said Binay.

“As to the accountabilities of other government officials, we should let the effects of the SC decision take its course. As of now, none of us has read the decision in its entirety so any discussion accountabilities at this point on is purely speculative.”

Binay also appealed to all parties “to work together and advance the welfare of our people, which should be our overriding goal.”

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Impeach rap poised vs. Aquino after SC's DAP ruling By XIANNE ARCANGEL, GMA NewsJuly 1, 2014 3:52pm 1602 72 0 2142 Tags: Benigno Aquino III (UPDATED 5:24 p.m.)

Youth organizations led by the Kabataan party-list are set to file an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III for "inventing and abusing" the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Tuesday.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DAP “greatly bolstered” the impeachment complaint his group was drafting against Aquino.

“[The decision] is a ‘solid ground’ for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust, both of which are impeachable offenses,” Ridon said.

Sought for comment on the plan to impeach Aquino, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told GMA News Online it was "better to wait for the full decision [of the Supreme Court] before [we] respond."

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., a member of Aquino's Liberal Party and his top ally in the House of Representatives, said the President couldn't be impeached over DAP because he implemented it with “good faith and sincere intentions.”

“Incidentally, [there are] no votes [for the complaint to be approved by the House],” Belmonte told reporters in a text message.

Aside from filing an impeachment case against the President, the youth organizations are also planning to file malversation charges against Budget Sec. Florencio Abad since he was one of the principal government officials involved in the implementation of DAP.

“Abad clearly committed malversation in crafting and implementing the multibillion peso DAP. We will file the appropriate charges against him at the soonest,” Ridon said.

* Supreme Court justices voted unanimously to strike down as unconstitutional specific acts under the DAP, including the cross-border transfers of the savings of the executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive; and the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies.

According to SC spokesperson Theodore Te, these acts violated Section 25 (5) Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the doctrines of separation of powers.

The DAP is a discretionary fund that came under fire last year after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed that several senators received P50 million to P100 million after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate impeachment court.

Under the 1987 Constitution, a vote of one third of the House of Representatives is needed to impeach the President.

President Benigno Aquino III's allies were quick to pounce on the Kabataan party-list group's plan to file an impeachment complaint against the him after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional certain provisions of the administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Liberal Party stalwart Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, said the planned impeachment complaint against Aquino “[would] not hold water” because it was premature and baseless.

“In the first place, DAP contributed a lot to the country's economic growth and funded viable and productive programs of the government. It is unfortunate that the SC decision on DAP may hamper some operations and programs of the government but we have to respect it,” he said.

1-BAP party-list Rep Walden Bello, who previously served as Justice secretary, said the President couldn't be impeached for implementing DAP since the Supreme Court’s ruling is not retroactive.

“The SC ruling clarified the status of a practice. So the Executive now has a clear ruling on which to base its future actions,” he said.

Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said any attempt to impeach Aquino over DAP had no legal basis since he did not commit a clear and blatant violation of the law.

“According to the constitution, an offense may only be considered impeachable, if the violation of the constitution is culpable… There is nothing clear as far as the rules on how savings are to be used or allocated under our tripartite system. On the contrary, DAP was simply an attempt by the administration to formalize the practice being done by previous administrations,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo added that Abad cannot be charged with malversation over DAP since he implemented it “in good faith.”

“Secretary Abad cannot be held liable for any wrong-doing as the policy of DAP is founded on legal basis and was done in good faith. One only becomes liable for willful and culpable violations of clear and indubitable rules,” he said.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe said Abad could only be charged in connection with the DAP if he insisted on continuing its implementation even after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Daunting task

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, however, said Aquino couldn't claim to have acted in good faith in implementing DAP since he knew it was unconstitutional from the time he was a senator.

Proof of this, he said, was Senate Bill 3121 filed by Aquino as a senator declaring as illegal then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s impoundment of the budget without congressional approval.

“He did not ask for congressional approval for his DAP so he actually continued the practice of Pres. Arroyo when he became President,” Aquino said.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of Aquino’s allies in both houses of Congress, Ridon said Kabataan party-list will push through with filing an impeachment case against the President. —NB, GMA News

The President’s newsboy: #28StoriesOfGiving By Michael Rebuyas (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 5, 2014 - 12:00am 6 1127 googleplus1 2


At 69 years old, Tatang Pepito Rayos continues to risk life and limb hawking newspapers in the streets of Manila. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines - The streets are loud with traffic as people go about their daily commute. The endless parade of cars, wheels and smoke moves in the moment when the lights shift from green to yellow and back to red.

Then he makes his move.

Pepito Rayos stands by the sidewalk on the corner of Nagtahan and Guanzon Streets, an area of Manila like a crossroads of political power. Now pushing 70, his daily routine is quite unlike that of others his age: he jumps into the gridlock when vehicles stop, his left hand clutching a bundle of the day’s newspapers and a tray of candies and cigarettes, while his right calls the attention of drivers and commuters.

He wears an unmistakable smile that betrays his years.

One of his regular clients is the resident of nearby Bahay Pangarap, the country’s Chief Executive, who is said to never let a day pass without rummaging through the country’s top papers, notably The STAR.

Has he ever met or spoken to the President?

“No,” he shakes his head, but he would love the chance to do so and meet his favorite client.

“Sa lahat ng naging Presidente, si PNoy ang idol ko. Lahat ng sinasabi niya makatotohanan (Of all the Presidents we have had, PNoy is my idol. Everything he says is truthful),” Rayos said.

* A veritable man of the street, Rayos ekes out a living, risking life and limb hawking newspapers, even in his advanced age.

“Ako, nagtatrabaho na lang ako para sa sarili ko (I only work to support myself now),” he said, adding that he chooses to do so in order not to burden his children, whom he wants to live their own lives.

Until a few years ago, he recalls, he had his own business and was doing well. They weren’t rich, but the earnings were enough to raise a family.

“Yung kapatid ko ang nagbebenta talaga ng diyaryo dito, mula pa noong panahon ni Marcos (My brother was the one who originally sold newspapers here, starting during Marcos’ time),” he recounts.

When his brother died, Mang Pepito took over the trade. By then, his business had gone sour, and his family was being hounded by creditors.

Every day he would wait for the day’s supply of broadsheets and tabloids, which he would then peddle to drivers and commuters riding past him.

He has no regrets.

“Dito ko napag-aral ang tatlong anak ko (I sent my three kids through school by doing this),” he muses.

Tatang, as his suki buyers would call him, has four children and is a grandfather to five.

His children are all grown now. One works for Meralco, two are already married, and one is currently studying.

“Scholar yung bunso ko. Medicine ang course (My youngest is a scholar. He is taking up medicine),” he says, his face beaming with pride.

If there’s one thing that can be said of him, it is that Tatang is a proud and grateful man. He does not accept anything from his children, he says, save for the rice his eldest insists on giving him.

The street is pelted with big drops of rain as he scrambles to cover his wares with a sheet of plastic. Some have already been soaked.

He realizes that he is getting too old for the job. He walks with a slight lag in his steps. He takes long pauses when he talks.

It’s become hard for him, he admits. Sometimes, he also gets mugged and robbed of his daily wage.

“Dati ninakaw yung paninda ko, pati yung kita ko. Mga P800 (I got robbed once. Someone stole the rest of my day’s supply of newspapers. The thief also took my day’s earnings of about P800),” he recalls.

He didn’t bother going after the thief, saying, “Naku, hindi na. Siguro mas kailangan niya (No, I didn’t bother going after the thief. Maybe he needs it more).”

The rain stops as abruptly as it started.

It’s nearing 1 in the afternoon and once again, the streets reel with the sound of traffic.

Pepito Rayos stands by the sidewalks, clutching a tray of candies and cigarettes for his afternoon shift.

The same scene plays out for him every day the way a film from a scratched videodisc does. But he does not mind. He has lived his life and he has done all he could for his family, and for that, his pride is boundless.

His work offers him no respite, he admits, but this is his life now, and though some parts could be better, he is for the most part content.

Just like other people, he too had dreams for himself, but adds that his dreams for his family always trumped his own. Life is hard, but then again, he says, for all its trials, life is also good.

Not your typical everyman, Mang Pepito stands out in the crowd. He wears an unmistakable smile as one who has helped himself through life’s vicissitudes, unwilling to be a burden to his family, to society, or to the government.

Indeed, he considers himself blessed.

If he ever gets the chance to meet President Aquino, what will he tell the Chief Executive?

“Ang mahihiling ko lang sa kanya ay ipagpatuloy niya ang nasimulan niya para sa bansa, lalung lalo na sa korupsyon (I will ask to simply continue what he has started, especially in fighting corruption),” Rayos concludes.

Wise words from a man who has made an honest living off the streets of Manila.

THE INQUIRER COMMENTARY


By Peter Wallace

Managing poverty reduction Like It Is By Peter Wallace |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:10 am | Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

It doesn’t need managing, it needs eliminating. And there’s only one way to do that: Create well-paying jobs. The “well-paying” bit is overlooked in government, where even nonpaying jobs (on the farm for dad, particularly) are considered in the statistics.

I rely better on Social Weather Stations (SWS), where I find the stats more believable. What I find unbelievable is that there are more without jobs now than there were four years ago, or 14 years ago. The percentages look better, but the mathematical base has grown as the population grows. People are jobs, not percentages. So we’re getting nowhere.

A worrying aspect of the Philippines’ development in recent decades is not only slow growth but also that inclusive growth hasn’t occurred as economic growth accelerates. The slow pace of poverty reduction and the persistently high level of economic inequality have not been addressed.

Among the major East Asian economies, the Philippines has had the slowest rate of poverty reduction in the last three decades, and today has one of the highest incidence among its Asian neighbors. By the way, has anyone in government ever noticed that in almost every measure of comparison, the Philippines ranks last, or close to it, among its Asean friends? And this has gone on with only slight, if any, improvements.

It’s that way because of the insufficient focus on including the poor and the unemployed. Oh, there’s much talk about it, but not the actions that would resolve it. The numbers confirm it. Using the same definition of unemployment (it was changed in 2005) which, for comparison, you must do, the official number of jobless Filipinos rose to an estimated 4.2 million from 3.5 million in 2000, which translates to some 700,000 more without work today.

 A more believable SWS says there are 12.1 million unemployed Filipinos as of end-2013, much higher than the 9.9 million without a job in November 2010.

* The huge inequality that exists today—where 79 percent of the population belong to the low-income group, only 5 percent are in the high-income group, and the middle class is way too small (16 percent)—needs leveling. This can only be done through job creation; there is no other way.

Yet the necessary high-level attention to achieving it isn’t there. I even wonder if the absolute importance of job creation over almost everything else is recognized.

The various social programs such as the conditional cash transfers are good, but they’re interim solutions, emergency responses that can’t, and shouldn’t, be maintained. It’s jobs where the focus must be. And that means some politically unpalatable decisions must be made.

A crucial one is security of tenure. This is anything but security. It is a job inhibitor and creates job insecurity, as any Filipino hired for five months and then fired can tell you. If this law is repealed, there is real job security. A firm needs a worker and hires one; he does a poor job, he is warned, but he doesn’t improve. So the firm fires him, and hires someone else. No job is lost; there is only a change from an incompetent worker to a competent one.

The fired employee works harder next time to keep his job, the hired employee works hard to keep his job. The firm grows through greater productivity. The employee gets all the mandated benefits denied to those that get fired before the six-month probation period is up. That’s proper job security. The Philippines becomes more competitive on the world stage, and that also leads to more jobs as people buy Philippine-made products.

I’d also rethink minimum wage. The P466/day is too low, but zero is lower. Our competitors in Asia pay lower wages and are getting much larger foreign direct investments, which are creating jobs. Minimum wage is certainly a reason, particularly in labor-intensive industries, the ones we need.

If you make job creation your No. 1 priority, everything else you must do follows. You make sure everyone is well-educated and healthy (that covers two of the major programs of the government). You make sure that infrastructure, reliable and reasonably priced power, and an efficient bureaucracy are in place so businessmen will invest (that’s three more), and so on.

Also, with more decent-paying jobs here, Filipinos will no longer be forced to leave family and country to find a job. Brain drain is minimized, and Filipino workers get to spend quality time with their families. So focusing on job creation leads to all the rest.

I can’t for the life of me understand why the President opposes opening up the economy to more foreign investment (amendments to the Constitution). Nor why he opposes the creation of a department to better promote and regulate what is becoming the most dominant sector in the world—IT. And his decisions on mining have killed an industry that can bring great wealth, and jobs, to the country—in the countryside where they’re most needed.

If he truly wants to create jobs, he’d listen to the business chambers. Seventeen of them presented eight issues to him prior to his last State of the Nation Address that would create jobs. They were either ignored or given very little attention. Another Sona is coming up, another chance to address these issues. I’d like to suggest to his advisors that he address these this time, and force action over the next 12 months.

The Philippines is much improved today, but so much more can be done to give Filipinos jobs.

* * *

I hope that the three “Napoles senators” realize that if they escape conviction through clever technicalities, that will only prove their guilt. If they are truly innocent, then they must prove it, nothing else.

The unconstitutionality of the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) doesn’t exonerate them, and is irrelevant to their cases.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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