The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) unequivocally supports and salutes Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s emphatic and consistent calls for President Aquino not to lose the moral high ground on his administration’s purported anticorruption drive and reform agenda, by firing at least four of his Cabinet members – not only Vice President Jejomar Binay, the government’s housing czar and presidential adviser on OFW concerns; but also Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala – as well as Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima.
SENTRO also upholds Congressman Bello’s suggestion to shake up the executives in the Departments of Transportation and Communications, Energy, and Foreign Affairs, as part of the needed revamp of the bureaucracy. The goal of these calls is good governance, where the government is able to honestly and effectively serve the people – whom Aquino claims to be his “bosses” – and to institute necessary measures to achieve genuine inclusive growth.
The decades-long corruption and meticulously hidden wealth of Binay and his cronies are now being unraveled despite his feigning of innocence, vehement denials, professing his humble origins and “pro-poor” stance, and invoking alleged persecution.
However, it is grossly unfair for Aquino’s political soldiers to condemn Binay, a nominal “oppositionist” and presidential aspirant, for corruption while exonerating or keeping mum about the shenanigans or incompetence of Abad, De los Reyes, Alcala, Purisima, and other top officials not identified with the Binay faction. Indeed, as Bello warns, “double standard has a tremendously corrosive effect on civic morality,” adding that “getting rid of Binay is only half the challenge facing the country. The other half is continuing the reform program.”
Abad is reputedly the brains behind the PDAF and DAP pork barrels that were liberally used for the government’s carrot and stick ploys. These huge funds, of course, spawned the multibillion-peso scam involving politicians (and their cohorts) from all sides of the political spectrum, including Aquino’s allies. He is also accused of political nepotism.
De los Reyes is being blamed by farmers for the sluggish implementation – or non-implementation – of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reform (Carper) law. After all these years and even with enough budgets, no less than 300,000 hectares of agricultural lands covered by Carper have yet to be distributed to impoverished farmers. This law will expire on June 30, this year.
The agriculture department has actually two de facto chiefs – Alcala and Secretary Francis Pangilinan, presidential adviser on national food security. Hence, Bello observes: The DA “is headed to the doldrums. It will simply bring about a fatal division of responsibility and accountability. It’s the height of indecision. Why not give the fresh face full command?”
On the other hand, Purisima is likewise accused of unexplained wealth – although a pittance compared to Binay’s – and being held responsible for the deteriorating peace and order, but still has the temerity to deny this reality.
No amount of rebuking or disowning Walden Bello for his well-intentioned proposals and constructive criticisms will prevent Sentro from expressing our support to him – as long as what he conveys is for the benefit of the vast majority of the people, and not a few privileged ones. In fact, Bello should have been thanked for his efforts. The question is, why can’t his partymates support the principled position he has taken?