MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said yesterday being transparent would be one of the hallmarks of the Aquino administration for its first 100 days, and even beyond.
“The biggest difference in this government – though this may not be measured quantifiably – is that change of attitude of the people towards the government. We have a government that has been transparent, we have been a government responding to all the concerns,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.
Lacierda said this was in keeping with Mr. Aquino’s campaign promise of good governance.
According to Lacierda, people might have different views on how the administration was performing but the gains should also not be disregarded.
He said that with their anti-corruption campaign, 19 midnight deals at the Department of Public Works and Highways were cancelled and cases were filed against tax evaders and smugglers by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs, respectively.
Lacierda said the excessive salaries and other benefits of officials of government-owned and controlled corporations were cut and austerity measures put in place, starting with the zero-based budgeting system, “which allows us to really focus on the budget towards programs that are beneficial to the poor and those that seek to promote good governance.”
“We abolished 10 offices under the Office of the President, so we are showing to the public that these are the things that we’ve been doing in the last 100 days and we believe that these things will bear fruit beyond100 days,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said he could not understand claims that the present administration did not have much change in policy from the previous government.
“Our policy has been to promote good governance and to (alleviate) poverty,” he said.
Lacierda said even people from the private sector like him and other officials of the Aquino administration were having an “epiphany” of sorts as regards government service.
“The President has been in government for sometime. I’m impressed with the government employees, they are not what I expected them to be. They are very hardworking and they are very brilliant. I met with several brilliant government employees, not only officials but employees as well, they have the heart,” Lacierda said.
He said given the proper motivation, government workers would do much better.
“And I think the President is providing the leadership for this. He’s practicing leadership by example. And government employees are gung-ho about this administration. They can see the sincerity of the President and for me, as someone who came from the private sector, there is a big difference because they have a lot of respect for the President and they can see hope in him,” Lacierda said.
“And the other thing that they can see is that power has not changed the President. He’s still the same simple person whose heart is really to provide (for) and to serve the electorate,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda admitted it was difficult being in government and defending the administration from various issues rather than being on the other side of the political fence and making criticisms.
He said there was a big difference being on the government side rather than talking as someone from outside looking in, which was what he used to do as a legal resource person.
“When you’re in government it’s different.
You know certain information. You know certain things that influence a decision and yet it’s something that you keep to yourself. It’s not as simple as how a legal resource person would say it,” Lacierda said.
He said it would be easy to discuss legalities and other issues as a third party.
“But now that I’m in government, I realized how difficult the situation is. This is the same attitude that I have with (Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary) Ricky Carandang, with (PCDSPO Undersecretary) Manolo Quezon, interesting development, interesting discovery, an epiphany for us who are from the private sector,” Lacierda said.
Aurea Calica, Philippine Star