CenPEG’s 6th State of the Presidency
‘A Damaged Presidency, a Besieged Administration’
July 29, 2014
The Philippine presidency was the subject of assessment by CenPEG during its 6th State of the Presidency (SOP) political briefing and forum on July 25, 2014. The SOP – entitled “A Damaged Presidency, A Besieged Administration,” was held at the assembly hall of the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
The 2 ½ hour discussion on the state of the presidency was followed by the launching of the latest CenPEG book, “Policy Issues: From Gloria to Noynoy.”
The briefing was led by a panel of CenPEG Fellows and analysts, namely: Temario C. Rivera, CenPEG Board chair; Bobby M. Tuazon, policy studies director; Roland G. Simbulan; Dean Julkipli Wadi of the UP Institute of Islamic Studies; and Jose Enrique Africa, executive director of the economic think tank IBON.
Citing the P140-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) program in his talk, Rivera said “it appears that President Aquino and Budget Secretary Abad deliberately sought to test and expand the limits of the law confident in their line of defense that the billions of pesos were spent for the public good. We now know that much of the DAP was also used for patronage and for huge lump sum allocations for projects, personalities, and places, solely at the discretion of one or two men.”
Rivera said the thorny issues of corruption, armed conflicts, automated election system fiasco, maritime crisis, and impunity of human rights “dramatize the limits, ineptness, and unpreparedness of a political leadership unable to effectively address fundamental structural and institutional problems about the country’s dysfunctional system.”
Tuazon, on the other hand, discussed the presidency as an institution encompassing the terms of post-Marcos presidents for the past 28 years. The President – one of the most powerful in the world – should be assessed on how the chief executive used his or her vast powers in addressing the monumental issues confronting the country.
Since 1986, Tuazon said, every president, he said, was hounded by political and economic instabilities, controversies such as corruption and fraud, and – among some of them - calls for resignation and impeachment. The presidency today is beleaguered by issues and problems that remain unsolved and that date back to earlier times. This only means that the presidency has been weakened and is unable to respond to its promises to the people. With the presidency as the center of political power, the state is confronted with the prospects of inertness until it self-destructs, the CenPEG policy director said.
Wadi said that after four years of peace talks, the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “hurdle with constitutional issues on the agreement they signed as it is about to be translated into basic law and face scrutiny in Congress and, possibly, in the Supreme Court.”
Simbulan talked about an independent foreign policy “that extends friendship to all and enmity to none, that gives primacy to our national interests independent of the conflict between Big Powers.”
Africa discussed the Aquino-led economy as a jobless growth which increased the wealth of the financial elite while deepening poverty and joblessness. He mentioned that in the ASEAN region the Philippines shows the highest unemployment.
Among those who attended the discussion were former Vice President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., honorary president of the election watchdog AES Watch; former Sens. Victor Ziga and Francisco Tatad; Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and former Biliran Congressman Glenn Chong; and former Quezon City Vice Mayor Charito Planas.
Former UP Mass Communication Dean and CenPEG Board member Luis V. Teodoro introduced the book “Policy Issues” during the book launch. Joining him were VP Guingona and National Artist and former CenPEG Board chair Bienvenido Lumbera.
The event was opened with welcome remarks from NCPAG Dean Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza and ended with a closing by Dr. Ed Clemente, also member of the CenPEG Board.
UP Manila Prof. Carl Marc Ramota acted as the moderator.
The 6th SOP was held in cooperation with the NCPAG Dean’s Office, the Research Extension and Development Office (REDO) of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development under Prof. Tex Gabo, and the UP Manila Political Science Committee. CenPEG News