Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reactions to PGMA's State of the Nation Address 2007

There are a variety of reactions to the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the 1st regular session of the 14th Congress last July 23.

For Senator Pia Cayetano, it appeared that PGMA's speech was like a Friendster list. “T speech sounded like a Who's Who list of the President's closest friends and allies and the infrastructure projects they had asked from her administration as reward for their political loyalty."

Bulatlat reported of various migrant groups protesting recent SONA such as the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan, BAYAN USA, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, and Centre for Philippine Concerns.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited SWS's data on hunger and opinion on the cost of medicines in her (SONA) .

The President's statement, "And I am happy to see that the latest survey in June shows the hunger rate has sharply gone down nationwide," pertains to the SWS report, “Hunger declines significantly to 14.7%: Moderate is 12.5%; Severe is 2.2%,” first printed in the BusinessWorld and released by SWS on the morning of July 23.

The President's statement, "Kaya sa isang survey, halos kalahati ang nagsabing abot-kaya ang gamot, kumpara sa 11% noong 1999," corresponds to the Third Quarter 2006 Social Weather Report for the Department of Health (DOH).

The Third Quarter 2006 Social Weather Survey, fielded over September 24 to October 2, 2006, included a DOH-commissioned item which specifically asked the respondents, “Ano po ang masasabi ninyo tungkol sa presyo ng gamot na inyong nabili? Ito po ba ay napakamura, medyo mura, medyo mahal, napakamahal?”

The survey found that 45% of those who bought medicines in the past six months said the medicines were very or somewhat cheap, no change from 43% in September 2003, but higher compared to 11% in December 1999 and 7% in September 2001.

However, President Arroyo’s statements, “Firms who were asked for bribes in taxes, permits and licenses dropped from one-third to one-half. Contract bribes are also down,” conflict with the findings of the SWS Surveys of Enterprises on Corruption.

The 2007 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption found that three out of five (61%) Filipino managers were asked for a bribe for at least one of the seven transactions tested in the survey – up from 58% in 2006, but was already 61% in 2005.

For every transaction, more said they were asked for a bribe in the 2007 survey than in both 2005 and 2006 surveys.

Sasha of Bayanihan Blog Network believes that PGMA will "suffer more criticism from people more interested in quick gains than in gradual, but sustainable, development."

Blog coverage:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Improving Philippines broadband hounded with supplier politics

One of the highlights in President Arroyo's 2007 State of the Nation Address was the improvement of broadband infrastructure and services in the country.

The Philippine Senate is expected to initiate an investigation into the $330-million contract awarded by the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to ZTE Corp. This is especially true now that records show that even U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney aired concern on the transparency of the broadband project.

Two suppliers, Arescom Inc. and Amsterdam Holdings, cried foul on how the project proposals were reviewed. ZTE claims that there was no irregularity on how the deal was sealed. Although various reports are now coming on ZTE's various business irregularities in other countries. This is indeed a public relations nightmare on ZTE and the Philippine government.

While the government is busy defending the decision it made on this controversial project, Senator Loren Legarda has filed a bill proposing to establish a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), to be spun off from the DOTC, which has come under fire for its supposed lack of transparency in forging a $330-million national broadband network contract with ZTE Corp.

Under Senate Bill 920, all existing DOTC offices dealing with communications would either be built into or attached to the DICT. These include the National Telecommunications Commission and the Philippine Postal Corp. The National Computer Center would also be ceded to the DICT.

Monday, July 23, 2007

State of the Nation Address 2007

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be delivering her State of the Nation Address today. For Filipinos based abroad or those who don't have television in their office premises, Bitstop will do a live webcast.

Your thoughts on the President's 2007 SONA are more than welcome.

Thanks to Wilson Chua for the heads-up.