Our president, Gloria Arroyo, is devoting five hours of her presidential time on Fridays to concerns and initiatives of environment protection.
For this, she ordered the turning off of all neon and high-wattage lights on billboards along roads and high ways at 9 every night to reduce carbon emission. She ordered the National Power Corporation to release funds provided under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act for the protection of watershed and water resources. She also set aside P2 billion for massive reforestation project for forest lands and protected areas.
I have no problem with her order to turn off all neon and high-wattage lights on billboards as this will not result to government expenses. But I do have concerns about the release of funds from the National Power Corporation and the earmarking of P2 billion for massive reforestation project for forest land and protected areas.
The administration of Gloria Arroyo has been rocked by scandal after scandal involving hundreds of millions of pesos. This even a third of our population live without food on the table.
The mother of all scandals is her rigging the election results in 2004 to become the president of the Republic. Top military officials, Gloria Arroyo herself and a commissioner of the Commission on Elections, the Constitutional body instituted to guard the sanctity of votes and the integrity of the election, were caught on tape. Arroyo apologized to the country for calling the commissioner, whom she instructed to give her a 1 million vote lead in Mindanao. It was a lapse of judgment she said morosely on tv. As to the military officials, they have long been assigned to important government posts, riot of the media notwithstanding.
Another scandal is the national broadband project. This project aimed to connect government offices all through out the archipelago. But the same project did not push through when it was revealed that the project was overpriced by hundreds of millions of pesos, and the money trail leads to her.
Then came the railway project to connect the northern part of Luzon. It was pointed out by ex-Senate President Franklin Drilon that the project costs more than the railway project connecting Tibet and the mainland China. Since it was an expensive project, people would think that the train–forget about the railway and the structures it will be built on, just concentrate on the train itself–should at least be faster. Quiet the opposite.
Then came the fertilizer fund scam, where hundreds of millions of pesos again evaporated. To stop the trail from leading where people suspect it should be leading, a family had been massacred and few others were murdered.
Government officials were caught lying to their teeth under oath, in front of TV cameras beamed around the world. Our Supreme Court upheld the silence of those who refuse to speak about what they know.
So far, no one is convicted. And the money? Still to be found.
All these corruption did not happen in the Arroyo administration alone. This has been this way since time immemorial. The only difference is that, the advancement in information technology has made our nation aware of the massive amount lost by the country on one hand, and the massive amount gained by thieves in the government on the other, and the extent to which the participants are willing to go to cover their tracts.
We are helpless.
Most of all, we no longer believe in our leaders.
Funds for the protection of watershed and water resources? P2 billion for massive reforestation project for forest lands and protected areas?
History must repeat itself.