BOO CHANCO: WHY CAN'T SHE SAY SORRY?
MANILA, September 22, 2004 (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - "If we are in a crisis today," Ate Glo told Filipino-Chinese taipans over the weekend, "it is because political sentiments have long overruled dispassionate requirements of governance. That past has caught up with us." You, bet, Madame President! So, she knows why we are in this mess. But of course she knows. She has a PhD in Economics.
Knowing is, however, only the first step towards regaining credibility. Admitting her role in letting political sentiments overrule dispassionate requirements of governance is another thing altogether. The Napocor rate cap, for instance. That was a direct order from her, implemented over the feeble objections of Energy and Napocor officials.
Why can’t she admit she was part of the problem that created the current crisis? Is her ego so huge, yet so fragile? She has to acknowledge her own misplaced populism, then say sorry, so we can move on.
Sen. Joker Arroyo pretty much said what we have been saying all along. He urged President Arroyo to tell the people that it is also her fault that the nation is facing a fiscal crisis and the economy is in danger of collapsing.
"Dapat aminin niya ang kasalanan niya sa paglaki ng ating utang (She should admit her sins for the huge increase in our indebtedness)," he said in a radio interview. The senator correctly observed that only after Ate Glo says sorry for her sins, can she "have the moral ground to ask Congress and the people to accept new taxes and increases in electricity rates."
Short of the President’s admission of her debt sins, the people and their elected representatives won’t accept new taxes and electricity rate increases, Sen. Arroyo said. He added that such a gesture could avert social unrest that higher taxes and energy costs could whip up.
It is not enough that Rep. Joey Salceda admitted the shortcomings of Ate Glo’s administration in a paper that detailed his proposed roadmap to fiscal health. Even if it seems that Ate Glo has adopted Joey’s roadmap, it still makes a difference that there is no direct admission of guilt and a sincere "I’m sorry" which Ate Glo owes this nation.
That FVR also owes this nation an apology is another thing too. It is Ate Glo’s watch now and it is in her interest that we get on with the job of repairing the fiscal damage as soon as possible. Malacañang should not skirt around the imperative need for Ate Glo to acknowledge her role in creating the crisis, the way Spokesman Toting Bunye and even Joey Salceda have been doing.
And not to forget, leadership by example requires Ate Glo to ask Big Mike to reimburse the National Treasury for that lavish birthday bash held at Malacañang grounds, even if only to cover cost of electricity, government facilities used and the overtime paid to Malacañang staff. The pain of admitting fault and reimbursing are nothing compared to the P135 billion worth of pain Ate Glo wants to inflict on the people, largely the middle class, to address the crisis.
Ate Glo must regain credibility. Without it, nothing’s going to happen outside of talk, talk and more talk. I like the way Today, another newspaper, puts it: "Jesus, the ultimate martyr, could lead people to sacrifice because he set the first example. That is not happening here."
Like the job of being President of the Republic of the Philippines, I wonder why anyone who is sane would like to become President of the University of the Philippines. Like the country, the Diliman Republic has a serious fiscal crisis and a constituency that is fiercely ungovernable.
Outside of Ambassador Ed Espiritu, I am disappointed that the contenders for the job of UP President are all academicians. Well, UP is an academic institution anyway, so what’s wrong with having an academician as President? Actually, plenty... unless you can show me an academician who has proven management skills and is well connected with the sources of power and money the university needs.
Look what happened to poor Dodong Nemenzo. He might have been a good academician but a lot of the fiscal problems of UP today can be traced to his lack of management and political abilities. He tangled with then Sen. John Osmeña who just happened to be Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Sonny Osmeña shouldn’t have punished UP for the sins of Dodong, but he did. Without sufficient funding, academics can’t survive. Without financial freedom, academic freedom is dead. And they are not going to get the money UP needs from a heavily indebted National Treasury, as demanded by the campus commies.
Of course money is important. UP can’t even clean and maintain their toilets. When I was invited to address this year’s graduating UPIS class, I noticed that the UP Film Center’s toilets were dirty. The building itself looked badly maintained. Yet, it is a fairly new building. It wasn’t even there when I graduated. The UP Infirmary also looks like a sick dog. Last Christmas, my UP Prep class tried to help a fellow Prepian who was Vice Chancellor for Diliman acquire a second hand dump truck to haul UP’s garbage. No money for basics... that bad.
We are only talking physical plant here. In academics, I am told that some of the best faculty have given up and moved over to the private sector – to La Salle or Ateneo or the corporate world. Others maintain demanding consultancies as to have little time or inclination to teach or do research. And who could blame them? A good UP President should be able to upgrade faculty salaries, or failing that, due to government rules and fiscal problem, get fully funded chairs from the private sector. Now, even peace and order in the campus is spotty, due to inadequate funding.
If UP is to recover, it needs a UP President who can get the financial resources and manage the assets of the university (such as its real estate) in a way that would make UP financially independent. I don’t see any of the academicians aspiring for the position to be sufficiently savvy in management and finance to make a difference, outside of Ed Espiritu. I realize he is somewhat controversial but he seems the best qualified in the list.
I would have preferred seeing the names of Del Lazaro, Jerry Barican and entrepreneur Doy Vea (original owner of Smart Telecoms) in the list. They are outstanding alumni who had proven themselves in the competitive world of private business. But, why would they want to be UP President?
We can try appealing to the soft spot they have in their hearts for UP, Del and Jerry since high school at UP Prep and Doy since high school at UP High. They also have some time on their hands these days. Surely, Del can do better than overspend time at the golf course. He should have suspended his sanity when asked if he was willing to be nominated for the job.
There are other outstanding alumni out there like Alran Bengzon, Loida Nicolas Lewis and even Orly Mercado who has proven his administrative abilities in his short stint at DND. Or Chris Monsod, who has proven himself able to run complex organizations in both private and public sectors, should have been in the list rather than his wife Winnie. Even Vince Perez, who is making a mess of himself at the Department of Energy, could be a good UP President purely because he knows how to raise funds and has the connections for it here and abroad.
We need someone like Ed Angara, who did wonders as UP President. The closest to him in the list is Ed Espiritu. Hopefully, the UP Board of Regents knows what is good for UP. Like the country, they will elect someone they deserve.
Got this text joke.
Congressmen told President Arroyo they would reduce their pork if she also reduced her’s.
So she ordered Mike Arroyo to go on a diet.
Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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