Wednesday, March 5, 2008

PGMA scraps EO 464

With President Arroyo's scrapping of Executive Order 464, public officials and employees have now the prerogative to expose the shenigans and other illegal transactions in government, if only to bare the truth. But there is one thing more that bothers many people these days, even if EO 464 is dead. This is Malacanang Memorandum Circular No. 108, whose content is almost similar to that of EO 464. Unless this circular is scrapped, the Palace can still hound government officials and employees who have knowledge of any wrong doings in government offices.

It is hard to understand why the president has cancelled EO 464 only now. After series of rallies and protests from disgruntled civil society groups, she finally relented. But reports said she succumbed to the pressures of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), whose members recently met with the president and ranking cabinet officials in an exclusive place in an effort to iron out the kinks that surround the said order.

Now we can finally say that the president still looks up to the Catholic Church as something worth its respect. And who wouldn't? Unless, one is callous enough to go against the Church doctrines or face excommunication. After all, why wait for the CBCP to pressure anyone for that matter. Sadly, the only agenda perhaps was the scrapping of EO 464 and nothing much was discussed concerning any impending course of action that the present leadership is thinking about.If ever, there is any clamor for her to step down, it came, not from the bishops themselves, but from the civil society groups and other concerned citizens who are already fed up with the system of government in the country.

Without the EO 464 in place, Ched secretary Romulo Neri, who was also a former socio-economic planning secretary, would have the courage to come out and bare everything that he knew about the anomalous NBN-ZTE transactions between the Philippines and China. However, Justice secretary Raul Gonzales is singing another tune. According to him, Neri, or any other ranking government official, can now testify in any public hearings called by the Senate, to shed more light on the anomalous ZTE project. But Gonzales said that Neri's answers to questions asked by the legislators would now depend as to whether he will answer some of them or not.

As for Neri, there's nothing to be afraid of. If he is, the likely threats would not be from the side of the civil society groups, but from those he had given favors at the expense of his untarnished reputation. Anybody who is aware that the barrel of a gun is poised at the back of his head, will not dare say things that are against a consensus. I really do not know how the Senate hearing, with Neri being cross-examined, will look like. Hoping, once and for all, that it wouldn't be another useless attempt by the Senate to get a crack behind the concrete wall where secrets were hidden away from further public scrutiny.

If I were Neri, why should I be bothered about being jobless, anyway. But that's not what Neri is worried about. Guess what? You readers knew what I mean, should he bares it all during the public hearings. Neri is already fed up with statistics and he doesn't want to belong there anymore. And should he plans to quit the government, he can always go back to the private sector, where he will earn more than what he earns right now. Unless, Neri gets hefty commissions from illegal transactions, working in the government is purely for public service. Perhaps, what Neri needs right now is to balance the situation. Is he on the side of the truth or not? That's all. I'm sure, Neri is not that stupid to tread into a situation if he doesn't know how to get out of it.

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