Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can Alternative Reform Candidates for President win in 2010?

Can Alternative Reform Candidates for President win in 2010?
By: Harvey S. Keh

For the past months since Kaya Natin! was launched, I have met and talked with several groups and organizations all asking if Kaya Natin! will be fielding its own Presidential candidate for the upcoming 2010 National Elections. These groups include organizations of farmers and peasants, civil society groups, socio-civic organizations, business groups, religious leaders and student leaders. Rumors have been circulating that Kaya Natin! leaders such as Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo are considering to make a run for the highest position in our land. When I asked them about this, they simply laugh because they feel that it’s such a farfetched idea given their lack of national awareness and say that their personal preference is to go back to their private lives after they have served out the remainder of their present terms, Panlilio as a priest while Padaca as a practicing certified public accountant. Yet, in almost all of the more than 60 colleges and universities that we have visited in our Caravan of Good Governance, the students who attend never fail to ask the Kaya Natin! leaders to strongly consider to run as alternative and reform Presidential candidates for the 2010 polls. In a recent discernment session we organized in Nueva Ecija, majority of those who attended said that they can’t seem to choose who to vote for among all the current Presidentiables since all of them seem to represent the same values and ideals that have brought our country to where it is today.

This then begs the question, is the country actually ready to elect an alternative and reform candidate in 2010? Many of those whom I have talked to also mention the names of Chief Justice Reynato Puno and JIL Leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva as other alternative candidates that will reflect the right values that we need in our next President. Some political analysts and public relations practitioners have also warned me that fielding a reform slate in 2010 will be useless given that the reality of Philippine politics is that one would need money and political machinery just to be able to put up a decent campaign. One of them even told me that a viable Presidential campaign would need at least P 2 Billion Pesos! She told me that if you can’t raise that money, don’t even bother to make a run at the Presidency since it will just be a lost cause. Not to dampen the hopes of many idealistic Filipinos here and abroad but I tend to agree with these political analysts that good intentions are not enough and the issue of having enough resources is very crucial if we want to finally elect a God-fearing, morally-upright, effective and ethical leader for our country in 2010.

However, I’d like to also believe that there is still enough time for us to work together and support an alternative and reform candidate whether it will be Panlilio, Padaca, Robredo, Puno, Villanueva or any other reform leader but we have to be united and we have to act now. I still believe that the spirit of people power is still alive in Filipinos everywhere in the world. There is a silent majority of Filipinos especially those who are living abroad that are now longing to see change in our country especially in the 2010 elections. Imagine if all the overseas Filipinos would just decide to chip in at least US$ 5.00 each to support a reform candidate then that would give the candidate at least US$ 30 Million or P 1.5 billion pesos to help him or her in putting up a good and decent fight against the ruling oligarchs and traditional politicians in our country. Another thing going for us is that majority of the voting population of our country are young people aged between 18-40 years old thus, it is imperative for all of us to support initiatives such as the Movement for Good Governance, YouthVote Philippines and IamChange2010 that are encouraging the Filipino youth to register for the upcoming polls. The energy and idealism of these young Filipinos can also be tapped as we have seen in the Presidential campaigns of Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Raul Roco, both of whom almost made it despite meager resources due to the support of the Filipino youth. Padaca and Panlilio showed that people power in the polls can happen in the provincial level but whether or not it can happen in the national level is now up to all of us. Will we allow ourselves to have another President that is beholden to the interests of a few elite families and oligarchs? The answer lies in your hands.

Comments are welcome at

Harvey S. Keh is the Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government.


Wilmer said...

How much of an alternative candidate is Mayor Jess Robredo? Is the Ramon Magsaysay award enough to "canonize" him as such. Below is a column from a Naga-based newspaper which questions Robredo's claim of transparency and ethical leadership

March 2-8, 2009

For Bikol and the World!
By Che Carpio

Transparency at Worst

Further to my article the other week on the “Transparency at Work” section of the Naga City Government’s “Hall of Fame” website (, I’ve discovered it’s actually “transparency at worst.”

Why? It’s a farcical fa├žade to shut out vital information, that is, the Commission on Audit reports for Naga. In fact, if you search for “Commission on Audit” in the “Naga City Search” function, you only get one result on a 2004 ordinance mentioning the agency.

But the latest audit on Naga—for the year ended December 31, 2007—posted at the COA website at is quite revealing. Below are its findings (in bold print) to which I’ve added some comments:

I – Financial and Compliance Audit

1. Both Report on the Physical Count of Inventories and Report on the Physical Count of Property, Plant and Equipment as of December 31, 2007 were not submitted due to the non-completion of the physical inventory-taking of all the city properties, contrary to Section 124 of Volume I of the Manual on New Government Accounting System (NGAS), hence, validity and correctness of the Inventories and Property, Plant and Equipment accounts valued at P3,135,099.19 and P819,272,920.36, respectively could not be ascertained. Comment: The city’s assets are of hocus-pocus valuation, which then puts to question its balance sheet.

2. Bank Reconciliation Statements as of December 31, 2007 of several bank depository accounts of the City under the General Fund and Trust Fund were not prepared and submitted by the City Accountant contrary to Section 3.2 of COA Circular No. 96-11. As such, accuracy of the balances of those bank accounts is not assured. Comment: We’re not sure of the city’s cash flow like unrecorded disbursements or who may be pocketing money.

3. Long existing reconciling items reflected in the Bank Reconciliation Statements (BRS) as of December 31, 2007 of several bank depository accounts of the City remained unadjusted, contrary to Section 3.3 of COA Circular No. 96-11, thus, Cash in Bank account balances were rendered inaccurate and unreliable. Comment: No internal controls and people might be making money somewhere.

4. The Accounting Office did not transfer the accumulated amount of P37,158,901.22 from General Fund (GF) to Special Education Fund (SEF), which pertains to the 1% share of the SEF in the Real Property Tax, contrary to Art. 363 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7160. The deficiency resulted in the overstatement and at the same time understatement of the cash position of the GF and SEF, respectively as of December 31, 2007 by the same amount. Comment: That’s Php37 million insidiously squeezed from our schools, teachers, and students to their detriment.

Compliance with Laws, Rules and Regulations

5. Cash advances amounting to P1,896,885.55 were granted without first settling or a proper accounting thereof was made of the previous cash advance, while cash advances totaling P8,168,269.61 were not liquidated within the prescribed period, contrary to Sections 4.1.2 and 5.1 of COA Circular No. 97-002, respectively. These defects created doubts on the validity and regularity of the grant and liquidation thereof. Comment: A blank check for City Hall people and no one seems to be getting fired or jailed.

6. Guidelines and policies set by the management on the amount and term of loan granted to the recipients of the LGU’s Proyektong Pangkabuhayan Program were not strictly implemented resulting to inequitable and arbitrary extension of loans. Comment: Outstanding loans receivable amounted to P38,167,105.58 as of December 31, 2007. Money’s overflowing in trapo style; later to become bad debts charged to us taxpayers.

7. Procurements of goods worth P50,000 and below falling under the condition set in Negotiated Procurement were undertaken using the shopping method contrary to Section 52 of RA 9184, and Sections 53 and 54 of Resolution No. 04-2006 amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations-A (IRR-A) of Republic Act No. 9184. Comment: Easy money for favored suppliers or supporters. A breeding ground for pricing cartels and fixers.

8. Inadequate amount was appropriated for the cost of implementing the Gender and Development (GAD) Plan for 2007 and no GAD Accomplishment Report for 2007 was prepared, thus, not in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 30 of the GAA Act, FY 2007 Vol. 103, No. 1 and the guidelines set under Joint Circular No. 2004-1 issued by the DBM, NEDA and NCRFW. These deficiencies resulted to inadequate implementation, monitoring and evaluation of GAD related activities of the LGU. Comment: Sadly, how we neglect our women. No wonder we have street children or watch-your-car-boys.

II – Value for Money Audit

9. The City could have saved the entire amount of P6,133,049.52 representing interest expense had it self-financed the buy out of the PREMIUMED II loan balance to the Department of Finance instead of securing a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of P21,822,634.80. Comment: Who made money in the deal?

10. The City was not able to provide adequate measures to protect the grants to NGOs/POs for CY 2007 amounting to P11,775,944.47 contrary to the provisions provided by COA Circular No. 96-003 dated February 27, 1996. Thus, there is less assurance that the projects undertaken by the NGOs/POs are supportive of the programs or thrusts of the LGU. Likewise, value delivered to the beneficiaries was not ensured. Comment: A Php12 million reason--and counting for 2008 to 2010—why the Naga City People’s Council looks more like a “Puppets’ Conspiracy.” The NCPC lost no time attacking Fr. Wilmer Tria for his recent lecture at the Ateneo supposedly “brought about by hang over of the street parties” (sic) of Mayor Robredo. And yet, it seems to have only displayed deafening silence or indifferent ignorance about this matter and the entire COA report.

11. The 20% Local Development Fund (LDF) could have been appropriated and utilized for programs and projects that partake the nature of investment and capital expenditures that would directly generate jobs and livelihood opportunities for the constituents of the city, rather than for other expenses appropriately chargeable against Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), had the City Government adhered strictly to the general policies and guidelines on the appropriation and utilization of the 20% LDF. Comment: Funds were diverted to “ornamental plants and Christmas decors and for Festival and Special Events, such as sound system rental, financial assistance and sandos/assorted T-shirts and other various supplies,” and “water bills, spare parts of various service vehicles of the city, fuel and oil consumption, internet and travel expenses/honoraria,” among others. This is brazen stealing from the poor and the needy, which cries to heaven for vengeance!

Then on the “Status of Implementation of Prior Year’s Recommendations,” the report stated: “A review of management’s actions on our previous year’s audit recommendations disclosed that out of eight audit recommendations, three were implemented and five were partially implemented…” Comment: Is that “good governance”?

In the end, City Hall’s “Transparency at Work” is all for show, and there goes public accountability. A “Hall of Shame.” Transparency at its worst.

Wilmer said...

For Mr. Keh's consideration still...

Would it not be considered unfair that you have foisted someone like Mayor Robredo as an alternative candidate without visiting and asking his constituents first, without verifying first what you've heard, and relied largely on "images" projected to the "Manila public"?

Should a movement for authentic change in our country be based on that...? Just asking, Mr. Keh.

16-22 March 2009

For Bikol and the World!
By Che Carpio

More on Transparency at Worst:
P2,085,000.00 Election-timed 1998 Loan
to an NGO – Unpaid and Illegal

In early 1998, as Mayor Robredo “blessed” and campaigned for his interim successor Cho Roco, his administration released a P2,085,000.00 loan to Sabang Puro Urban Kabisig Organization, Inc. (SPUKOI). This, the COA questioned in 2002:

“Sabang Puro Urban Kabisig Organization Inc., a non-government organization, was granted a P2,085,000.00 loan on February 17, 1998 by the city government which was charged to continuing appropriation. This amount was intended for the payment of lots under the agency’s socialized housing program. The transaction was not in consonance with Section 4(1) of PD 1445 which states that no money shall be paid out of any public treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation law or other specific statutory authority. The audit further disclosed that no payment was ever made by any member of the above organization.”

Obviously, during his term from 1998 to 2001, Roco failed to collect a single centavo from SPUKOI. Neither did Robredo as mayor again in 2001 onward.

COA’s 2003 audit revealed continued failure to collect and produce any specific appropriation. COA’s next reports for 2004, 2005, and 2006 indicated partial action only in that collection efforts were being pursued and the loan was allegedly part of a continuing appropriation for socialized housing. Then, COA’s latest 2007 report did not make any update as yet.

However, SPUKOI’s relevant SEC Financial Statement (FS) for Jan. 1, 1999 to Dec. 31, 1999 (no FS filed for 1998) made no mention at all, much less, include this P2,085,000.00 for repayment. It only showed funds of P13,640.00 and P13,640.00 expenses. Even SPUKOI’s latest FS for Jan. 1, 2003 to Aug. 31, 2003, reported funds of P5,874.50 only and expenses of P5,874.50.

No payment from SPUKOI can be expected after all.

Genuine transparency demands a full accounting.

More importantly, the loan, which was granted on February 17, 1998, appears illegal as there was no city ordinance providing for the appropriation required by law. The city’s explanation is a “continuing appropriation” for socialized housing. But, Sections 36 and 37 of Ordinance No. 98-033 known as “The Kaantabay sa Kauswagan Ordinance of 1997” making a continuing appropriation for socialized housing was approved only on March 11, 1998. There is no other earlier appropriation as the Naga “Transparency at Work” website shows. And if the P2,085,000.00 were part of the 1998 approved budget, then it should have been readily cited. In short, the loan was unauthorized.

This then calls for an Ombudsman investigation for graft and corruption of all responsible officials.

The Sanggunian and the Naga City People’s Council should likewise investigate this loan posthaste, acting not by blind loyalty to Robredo, but by their solemn OATH to our People.

Lest we forget, if this P2,085,000.00 is fully repaid, plus interest, it could then be used for development projects or for others in need like people living at the Balatas garbage dump, street-children, and watch-your-car-boys.

siyetehan said...

yes, they "can" win.

but the odds are low.

really, really low.

TAGA-IRIGA said...

Mr. Keh,

I am a Bicolano. All I know is that Vox Bikol is a Pro-Luis Villafuerte newspaper. It is a known fact here in Bicol that Robredo and Cong. Villafuerte are arch enemies politically. We all want to get rid our country with trapos, right? Whos is the biggest trapo in Bicol/Country? guess it right!!! Luis Villafurte!!!...So if Vox Bikol is maligning Mayor Robredo it is understandable....that is what lap dogs do...hehehe