BENIGNO Simeon ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III became the Philippines’ 15th president on June 30, 2010 or exactly 70 days ago, triggering a contagion of hopefulness among Filipinos. He wooed and won votes with a slogan that was simple, yet catchy: ”Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Without corruption, there’d be no poverty.
The second Aquino presidency has spread a virus of hope that finds sole parallel in the tide of goodwill that Filipinos bestowed on his late mother and democracy icon Corazon ‘Cory’ C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.
Indeed, Aquino’s campaign equation of “no corruption = no poverty” has animated Filipinos so much that the expectations are great that he will deliver results soon.
IN HIS message that accompanies the proposed government budget for next year, President Benigno C. Aquino III notes that the allocation for health is 13.6 percent higher than 2010’s P29.3 billion (According to the 2010 General Appropriations Act though, only P28.7 billion was allocated to the Health Department).
Yet if one were to compare health’s share of the budget for this year and what the corresponding figure could be in the next, the difference isn’t much.
For 2010, the health allocation is 1.8 percent of the P1.54-trillion national purse. For 2011, the Aquino administration is proposing P32.62 billion for health –as indicated in the proposed National Expenditure Program — which is 1.9 percent of the P1.64-trillion national budget. The increase in terms of share in the total budget then would amount to just a tenth of a percentage point.
IT WILL be his first official trip overseas as the country’s chief executive, but President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has little reason to look forward to his upcoming visit to the United States.
On September 20, Aquino will be at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to present just how far the Philippines has achieved progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, in large measure because of the shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is bound to acknowledge before other world leaders that the country is falling short of several of these targets.
In September 2000, the Philippines and 188 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and committed themselves to achieving a set of eight goals by 2015. These goals – the MDGs – have since been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress for both rich and poor countries.
VALLEHERMOSO, CARMEN, BOHOL — Had she been in the same situation eight years ago, Jesusa Panes would have probably just given birth at home, even without her husband in sight, and even if her neighbor the hilot (traditional birthing attendant) happened to be drunk. But things have not been the same for expectant mothers in this town since 2002, and so when the child in her belly starting demanding to be let out, Panes began trudging toward the birthing center that was several minutes away by foot from her home.
NAGA CITY’S successes in its poverty alleviation efforts no doubt allowed it to focus its resources on improving access to basic services like education. But all its education reform efforts could not have been possible without its reinvention of the local school board.
The transformation began in 2001, when the MDGs were largely unheard of and a national government directive for the goals to be localized and included in development planning processes was yet forthcoming. But Naga’s decision then to revamp the school board’s orientation and organizational structure later put the city in a better position to address the gaps in achieving the MDG targets in education.
NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR — If one were to put local governments in a classroom setting, the executive body of this thriving city southwest of Metro Manila would be the overachieving nerd, the one guaranteed to garner the most medals at the end of each term.
So when Naga City received a failing grade in one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — achieving universal primary education — local officials characteristically lost no time in dreaming up a program aimed at improving its score. It’s a situation made even more challenging by the city’s demographics: one out of every three Nagueño is of school age. But as Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo put it, “We need to address the continuing inability of our school system to ensure that no child is left behind.”
LAWYER FRANCES Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi talks to distraught “dead” teachers all the time, but she makes it a point to crack jokes when they call her on her cell phone at night.
“I appeal to them, please don’t call me at night,” she says. “I’m afraid of you, you’re already dead.”
Guiani-Sayadi is the Solicitor General of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). She has been given the horrendous task of putting order to the chaotic records of teaching personnel in the ARMM.
Second of three partsLAS PIÑAS CITY — When the latest results of the National Achievement Test (NAT) for Grade 6 students came out in June 2007, this southern Metro Manila city got the fourth highest score in the National Capital Region (NCR), adding yet another item in Las Piñas’s growing list of achievements. Three-part PCIJ […]
A TOWN IN MAGUINDANAO — Ten-year-old Dino and two younger boys were harassing a hapless chicken under a neighbor’s nipa house. Covered with dust, the boys obviously hadn’t had a bath just yet that day, and had chosen to go after the chicken while other children in this village trooped to a nearby river to soak and to play.
It looked like a typical village scene — only that it was the middle of a school day and Dino (not his real name) and many of the children should have been in class. But the classrooms in Dino’s school were shuttered because its four teachers were attending a meeting in the capital.
WE MAY have heard enough toilet humor and rumors. Now it’s about time to get serious about a simple toilet habit that can save people from many health risks: washing hands.
Health and sanitation experts say this basic hygiene practice after a pee or poo can keep one away from several diseases, diarrhea and worm infections being among the most common and fatal.
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