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No time for complacency

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“Nothing will happen if we will not cut corruption.”

With impatience on the pace of government services palpable, President Rody Duterte in Davao City last Friday evening fired off a warning against his fellow public servants on backsliding to the indifference of the previous regime.

The lethargy of the past had led to the failure of majority of Filipinos to rise from poverty and Rody may have felt that after two years of instituting reforms, complacency is setting in.

The pace of reforms and project implementation is crucial to Rody who has the burning purpose of a vastly improved life for Filipinos during his six-year term.

The administration has recorded remarkable improvements in the economy, but these all fall short of Rody’s expectations and his timetable for change.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last March showed families who rate themselves as poor fell to 42 percent from 44 percent in December. The same SWS survey found the number of families who consider themselves as having not enough food to eat was a survey record low of 29 percent.

The unemployment rate in April was also lower at 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent a year ago.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the jobless rate was the lowest recorded for April which usually shows a high number due to new graduates that join the labor force.

Economic managers also issued a joint statement saying inflation rate for the first half went slightly off target at 4.3 percent due to the rise in prices of rice, fuel and fish, but it is expected to taper off when policy reforms are fully implemented.

“Now Rody wants the public to be proactive in demanding the best from public officials.”

Rody had set two critical targets in his administration which are removing corrupt practices in government and for public service to be effective in uplifting the economic condition of majority of Filipinos.

Rody said he was not satisfied with the slow-moving projects, such as road constructions, saying he would not spare even members of the Cabinet from accountability over the shortcomings.

“If you delay or (commit) a slippage of 20 percent — you’re out and I will cancel your contracts,” Rody said.

The speed of the projects is, indeed, crucial. For instance, the traffic jams that Rody particularly detested had worsened due to the simultaneous projects being set up under the Build, Build, Build program.

The irony is that these projects seek to address what they are causing right now which are the inconveniences to commuters caused by congested roads.

Corruption contributes to the projects being below standard as Rody said his policy moving forward would be for projects to be completed on schedule.

Projects do face delays when these are subjected to probes on allegations of corrupt practices.

“Nothing will happen if we will not cut corruption,” Duterte said.

He cited instances in the award of projects to contractors who do not have capital to fund the project, who lack materials and workers and who have no clear credit line.

Rody had indicated his disapproval of the lowest bid as main criterion in public auctions as he said this has been exploited in the theft of government funds.

Now Rody wants the public to be proactive in demanding the best from public officials.

He gave as an example unfinished projects that result in accidents. “Make it a criminal issue,” Rody said as he encouraged Filipinos to sue government for inconveniences and injuries from sloppy work from government.

“If you fall or (get a) bump because it (project) is unlighted, uncovered, sue government,” he said.

He promised to complement such action by also suing the project engineer and ask the Cabinet secretary to explain.

“Unless we cut down on graft and corruption, this country will never progress within the next 30 years,” Duterte said.

He estimated at the rate reforms and projects are proceeding, it would take 70 years for the country to catch up with its progressive Asian neighbors.

Rody’s impatience, thus, makes sense since he wants to see the country progress in his lifetime.

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