REINA MERCEDES, Isabela, Philippines – For President Aquino, tearing down a well-entrenched system has been the biggest challenge of his first months in power.
“Perhaps the biggest challenge (in my 100 days) has to deal with the fact that we’re trying to replace the system that has been in the country. And it’s worse, in fact, for the last 10 years,” Mr. Aquino told reporters here.
“In 100 days or in three months’ time, how do you really change the attitude of everybody? That things are different now and that things have to really change?” he said.
“Are they complying with the direction that we have set? That is the central challenge to me. Some people think I am not serious, and they will be in the front pages in the next few days,” Mr. Aquino said.
Mr. Aquino won on the platform of good governance and transparency. Despite issues hounding his administration, like the bloody hostage drama last August and the alleged involvement of some of his closest officials in jueteng operations, the President still enjoys a net satisfaction rating of 60 percent, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.
His predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also enjoyed high ratings in her early days in power but later saw the net figures fall below zero.
Mr. Aquino vowed to achieve more beyond his 100 days and stressed he is determined to work harder to fulfill his promise of an honest government and decent life for every Filipino.
In his 100-day report, Mr. Aquino said the people’s overwhelming trust in his administration has inspired him to achieve more.
“Hinding-hindi po tayo titigil sa tuwid na landas. Unti-unti na pong natutupad ang ating mga pangarap (We will not abandon the right path. Our dreams are gradually being fulfilled),” he said.
He said his determination to rid the bureaucracy of corruption is paying off as shown by the business community’s renewed confidence in the economy.
He cited his issuance of Executive Order 7 ordering the suspension of all privileges of officials of 122 government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions. The directive has resulted in savings of P2.5 million.
The government’s winning the legal battle over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3 has also saved P43.4 billion for the country, he said.
Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has started reforming its financial and procurement processes in keeping with the Aquino administration’s commitment to transparency.
“All of these are geared towards making the DILG more equipped and capable in helping President Aquino realize his mission and vision for our country and people,” Robredo said in a report to Malacañang dated Sept. 29.
The DILG is one of the departments that have caused the President headaches, particularly because of its reported mishandling of the hostage crisis on Aug. 23.
The tragic hostage incident had reportedly exposed the rift between Robredo and his undersecretary Rico Puno.
Another controversy hounding the DILG is the alleged involvement of Puno in jueteng protection.
Aquino designated Robredo to head the DILG in acting capacity last July 9, almost a week after the appointment of Puno as one of the two DILG undersecretaries.
For a stronger peace and order drive throughout the country, Robredo said the Regional Peace and Order Councils have been strengthened.
The DILG chief also said the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) are reviewing their inventories.
He also said he has been working on programs to allow LGUs to be more effective in monitoring and evaluating the progress of their own poverty alleviation efforts.
“Part of enabling LGUs is making their processes and procedures client and business/investment friendly. The DILG has stepped up implementation of programs to eliminate red tape,” he added.
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star