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Clearing the air with the Catholic Church and What I will be looking for in the SONA

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment

What I will be looking for in the SONA

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/2442-what-i-will-be-looking-for-in-the-sona

 

IN my column last week, I stressed the need for our Church to become more sensitive to the plight of the poor in our country. One reader wrote to me saying that I am anti-Church and that I could not call myself a devout Catholic for writing the article. Does sharing one’s opinion about how the Church can become more relevant to the signs of the times now constitute to being against it? I hope that our Church leaders and its most devout followers would learn to take constructive criticism and advice especially from its members. As we have learned in our Christian Life Education and Theology classes at the Ateneo, the Church as an institution is not just the bishops and the priests but it also includes ordinary members of the laity. As we have learned in organizational development, the surest way for an institution to fail is for it to remain stagnant and not be able to keep itself abreast with what is happening in our society. Like many of its believers, I would like to see our Church and her teachings to continue to become a relevant part in living our daily lives.

 

Not the Church

 

Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan City

 

Just to clear the air, I am not criticizing the Church as an institution but rather I am expressing my disappointment at some of its leaders such as Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who even wrote to ask for an SUV as his birthday gift from then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in exchange for his unwavering support of her administration. How can an esteemed member of the clergy such as Bishop Pueblos continue to support Arroyo and turn a blind eye to the scandalous corruption that occurred during her time? Worse, while millions of Filipinos grow hungry each day and officials close to Arroyo live extravagant lifestyles, you have some members of the clergy such as those in Pampanga who continue to even use the pulpit to show their undying loyalty and support to her. Wasn’t it greed and corruption that led Judas Iscariot to sell Jesus Christ to his enemies for a few silver coins? I pray that we will have more Church leaders like Fr. Albert Alejo, S.J. and Fr. Melo Diola who have made it their apostolate to work towards creating a clean, honest and effective government for every Filipino.

 

What to look for at the SONA

 

President Noynoy Aquino

 

This coming Monday, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will be delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) which is supposed to contain the achievement of his administration during the past year as well as his plans for the coming year. Here are some things that I will be looking for during his SONA.

 

Firstly, I hope that the President would be able to show how effective the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program has been in terms of curbing poverty and hunger among millions of Filipinos. Our government invested more than P21 Billion in taxpayer’s money thus, if we see that this program hasn’t been effective then perhaps the money should be channeled to other key priorities of the administration such as improving access and quality of basic education as well as public health.

 

Secondly, I would like the President to also share with the Filipino people his administration’s achievements in the fight against graft and corruption in our government. How many government officials have now been put to jail or have been suspended due to their involvement in graft and corruption? How much has the government saved due to its review and rescinding of erroneous contracts that clearly place our government at a disadvantage? What new policies have been put into place to make bidding and procurement more transparent and accountable? These would concretely show every Filipino that the administration is on the right track in keeping its campaign promise to eradicate graft and corruption in our government.

 

Thirdly, I would hope to hear the President deliver a clear policy statement and program when it comes to providing universal access to quality healthcare especially to Filipinos who continue to live below the poverty line. Majority of Filipinos especially those living in rural communities have not yet been enrolled to PhilHealth which would provide them with access to medical treatment that they would need in case they get sick. A healthy country will lead to a more productive economy.

 

Finally, I am expecting that our President will finally express his full support in ensuring the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill which should become one of the main pillars in his promise to promote greater transparency and accountability in our government. An FOI law will help prevent cases such as the Fertilizer Scam, PCSO Fund Scam and the Eurogenerals scam from happening again. More importantly, it gives the power to ordinary Filipinos to demand information about the use of public funds from their local government leaders. The only people I see who may not be inclined to support this measure are our public officials who may have dark secrets that they wouldn’t want to bring to light.

 

Asia Society’s Young Leaders of the Philippines

 

The Asia Society-Philippines recently concluded its search for this year’s batch of Asia 21-Philippines Young Leaders fellows. The chosen fellows will represent the country in the upcoming Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in New Delhi, India this coming November. The summit gathers more than 200 young leaders from different fields across the Asia-Pacific region. The chosen Asia 21-Philippines fellows for this year are as follows: Mayor Paulino Leachon, Michael Sandejas, Atty. Lesley Cordero, Joy Anya Lim, Doris Dumlao, Solvie Nubla-Lee, Jeffrey Tarayao, Annalie Edday and Alvin Dakis. Congratulations to all of you! I will write more about these inspiring young leaders in my column next week.

 

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PNoy at Pinoy: A year after

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment