“Matuwid na Pamamahala Tungo sa ARMM na Masagana’t Mapayapa”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PNoy: "the mission of government is to take actions to create fairer outcomes for society"

Speech of President Aquino at the International Conference on Public Administration and Governance, June 27, 2012

Senator Sonny Trillanes; Dr. Alfredo Pascual, President of the University of the Philippines System; Dr. Cesar Saloma, Chancellor; Dr. Edna Estifania Co; Mayor Ben Abalos Jr.; former Senator Orly Mercado; former Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel; participants of the International Conference on Public Administration and Governance Tradition and Transformation; honorable local government officials present; officials, faculty, members, and staff of the NCPAG (National College of Public Administration and Governance); fellow workers in government; honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

It is heartening to see a good number of people gathered to talk about public administration and governance, and I am certainly glad to be here. I must confess this is I think my first interaction with NCPAG—besides, of course, the 2010 elections where a former member of your faculty, or present member of your faculty, was one of my severest critics. [Laughter] Of course, he forgot to tell us that he was a consultant of one of my competitors. [Laughter]

It is in conventions like this where we get the opportunity not just to share our ideas with our colleagues from all over the world, but also to listen and learn from one another.

So perhaps you will allow me to begin by sharing some of my views on governance. I have always been a firm believer that the mission of government is to take actions to create fairer outcomes for society. And among the jobs of a President is the efficient allocation of resources, so that the government can achieve those outcomes. This is the underlying philosophy that informs all of our decisions.

Which leads one to ask: Why is this important? Why have we chosen to focus on anti-corruption and anti-poverty as a means to achieve these fairer outcomes?

If we take a moment to look at what is going on in the world, we see that the disparity between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the powerless, has widened over the last few decades. This has led to turmoil in the Middle East, and to some extent, to the political discord we have heard about in the West.

What we are seeing here is the social contract that holds these societies together fraying at the edges. Those at the fringes are beginning to question whether this social contract does indeed ensure everyone a fair share of responsibilities and benefits; and this has affected the social cohesion—the togetherness—of some countries.

This is precisely why our administration focuses on inclusive growth and anti-corruption, in particular. If we ensure that growth is inclusive, from those in the center to those in the margins of society, then all of us will feel that we have a stake in keeping society moving forward, and will do our fair share to make sure that this happens.

So, how exactly have we done this? How have we put flesh to the idea?

For one, we are equipping more than three million poor households with the resources to cope with the challenges that come their way through our conditional cash transfer program; and we haven’t stopped adding to this list. In two years, we have nearly quadrupled the program’s budget, from ten billion pesos in 2010 to P39.4 billion this year—and may I add, we did this without raising our taxes. This program will have families sending their children to school; it will have their infants and their mothers going to medical professionals for check-ups.

These are the poorest of the poor, and we are empowering them to pull themselves out of their plight. I have always believed in the capacity of the Filipino to rise above their circumstances, and we need to give them the opportunity to do just that.

We are also getting more and more of our countrymen covered by health insurance. We have raised the number of Filipinos registered in PhilHealth, from 74 percent in 2010, to 82 percent today. And this is with the goal of having every Filipino registered by the time I step down in 2016.

We need to invest in our countrymen so that they can truly feel that they have a stake in our country. This is how we are strengthening the glue that holds society together.

This is also why we have been focusing on improving areas that have, for so long, been neglected by officials who only looked after themselves. For example, we have synchronized the ARMM elections with national elections—to foster genuine political competition, authentic choices for voters, and to eliminate the idea of the ARMM as a vote bank for those who want to buy and sell votes wholesale to affect the outcomes of the polls. This is why we have released 8.59 billion pesos worth of projects in that region, so that the people there can finally feel what it is like to have a government that actually works for them.

Likewise, this explains why we have been consistent in holding peace talks with rebel groups, because, as we have learned from what is going on in the world, progress is impossible if a nation stands divided.

Now, what were formerly breaking points of our society are becoming the durable joints of a formidable whole. We are learning from the mistakes that have led to crises in other places, and the world has embraced our efforts.

The global community has recognized the seriousness of our goal to close the gap between rich and poor, and to eradicate corruption. Transparency International, for example, cited an improvement in government service and the cutting of red tape as the reasons behind our steadily improving rankings in their Corruption Perceptions Index. In 2008, we were ranked at 141st; and we have progressed to 134th in 2010, and to 129th in 2011. Of course we should not stop until we go below 100 and further than that. This, without doubt, is in large part due to some of the excellent people in your field. We have also been invited to, and are a founding member of the open governance partnership.

Our efforts have likewise redounded to similar praise for our economy. Renowned publications and institutions have referred to us as probably the “16th largest world economy by 2050,” and as “the best place to do business in Asia/Oceania, in both manufacturing and service.”

Clearly, our reforms have won us momentum. And it is up to us, to all of us—whether in the private or public sector—to maintain this momentum. There remain serious challenges ahead. The problem of poverty is one that must be solved. There are still corrupt officials who will be prosecuted and jailed. The changes we envision are massive, and these changes cannot be enacted by a single office. We have to do it together.

Many of you here know this. After all, through the years, the National College of Public Administration and Governance has done more than its share of producing graduates who contribute to nation-building, and who help nurture institutions in government and in civil society. This is the institution we turn to, if we want to find some of the greatest, unheralded heroes of our bureaucracy.

This is why I made it a point to be here today: many of you, in one way or another, represent the backbone of our bureaucracy—people of excellence who work tirelessly with dedication and professionalism, so that we can truly change this country for the better. As your President, I know that if our administration succeeds in instituting widespread reform in this country, it will have been because of people like you; and I want to thank you all for your service.

Filipinos have already begun to move towards a larger realm of possibility. Only a few years ago, we had been hopelessly caught in a spiral of apathy and paralysis. We had become used to scandals of graft and corruption that faded away with no one held to account. Today, we continue to dream—and dream bigger at that. More than becoming self-sufficient in rice, we have taken the steps so that in all probability we can begin to export rice to our neighbors in the next few years. More than jobs for our people, we can start thinking about higher and higher qualities of work and the best way to equip our people with the necessary skills for that work. And more than protecting the rights of our OFWs, we are laying the foundations so they can think about coming home.

Through our shared efforts, we are beginning to realize the dreams we share with the Filipino people. We have, in fact, been steadily and noticeably upgrading the Filipino dream. With your help: imagine the impossibilities we can make possible, and achieve.

And before I end, may I ask you, perhaps, in your free time, or perhaps in a very conscientious and directed manner, perhaps you can help me answer one question: How do we transform not just our officials but also our populace—to looking at their officials not just as the provider for solutions but rather as the enabler of solutions. Partnerships like this will undoubtedly bring us to our dreams closer and faster.

Thank you. Good day.

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"Matuwid na pamamahala tungo sa ARMM sa masagana't mapayapa"

English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful ARMM."

Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju ARMM na sambu maka salamat"

Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa ARMM masambu iban mahatul"

Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa ARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"