President Benigno Aquino III
MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 27, 2011) - President Benigno Aquino III has set a new tone aimed at promoting good governance and curbing corruption after almost one year of doing serious house cleaning, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said on Tuesday.
In an interview with Karen Davila on ANC’s “Headstart,” Ochoa said President Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) adequately laid the groundwork for realizing the goals of a “clean government.”
“(President Aquino) fully emphasized that there’s no other way for this country to go but to have a good government, a clean government. He demonstrated his strong resolve and his firmness in really adhering to his principles in cleaning up the government,” Ochoa said, sharing his perspective on the SONA.
“Because to him (Aquino), he’s trying to convey to us the real meaning of what public service is. And public service is public trust, so therefore he wants to encourage everybody to believe again in our government,” the Executive Secretary added.
Ochoa said the administration believes that if it can establish a clean government and good governance, “everything else will follow.”
“Like for instance in our economic development and goals, there are policies that are polluted or so corrupted before. They got and get in the way of progress so marami tayong economic development programs that can only be achieved kung ang mga nagpapatakbo nito is not motivated by any other personal agenda,” he said.
Ochoa also defended the President for not including the controversial responsible parenthood (RH) and freedom of information (FOI) bills, Hacienda Luisita and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects in his SONA.
He said the RH bill was excluded in the speech because there are still ongoing discussions on the proposed measure and “the President would want to reconcile his views with that of the Catholic Church.”
Ochoa, however, clarified that the Aquino is not softening his stand on the RH bill. The President has been very consistent in his support of responsible parenthood, which is the essence of the RH bill.
“Hindi naman ibig sabihin softening. He (Aquino) is just opening the doors for negotiations para hindi maging adversarial ‘yung issue na ito,” Ochoa said.
As regards the FOI bill, Ochoa said there are provisions in the measure that still need to be clarified. He added that the President has some reservations on the potentials for misuse and abuse of the proposed legislation.
“I think there are still a lot of discussions going on about it because there are issues and provisions that I think the President would want to be cleared about,” Ochoa said.
He said Aquino has to balance these provisions “with his own concerns about the certain or potential abuses that might be resulting from the (proposed) Freedom of Information Act.”
On Hacienda Luisita, Ochoa said the land dispute has been a subject of court case and it would be proper for the President to let the court decide on the matter.
“Hacienda Luisita is in the court. So whatever he says is subjudice. And of course it is a no-win situation for him because he’s personally connected (with the case). Whatever he says there will be taken as if he’s taking sides. There will be a conflict of interest,” Ochoa said.
Although he admitted that there was an apparent slowdown in the implementation of PPP projects because of some investors were initially hesitant to embrace the program, Ochoa said this flagship program of the Aquino administration is now ready to go full swing.
Ochoa said it was only natural for investors to be hesitant during a transition period and given the reputation of the previous administration among foreign investors.
“The foreign investments are still there. In fact, they are giving up for our PPP programs. Nagkaroon ng konting adjustments sa policies on how to go about it, but I understand from our economic managers that we will be bidding out most of our PPP programs that we have initiated in the past year,” he said.
He said the different departments involved in PPP are now ready to bid out some of the projects.