Editorial: Let us just hope they do a better job

The Aquino administration recently announced its strategy in spurring growth and investment in the country. The national government will spend more than P180 billion ($4.15 billion) for infrastructure projects, 25.6 percent higher than the 2011 allocation.

All the infrastructure projects are collectively referred to as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). According to the PPP website, a PPP is a contractual arrangement between the government and the private sector to deliver public infrastructure and public services.

This year, the government is targeting 10 to 12 PPP projects. Some of the major PPP projects are the P6.3 billion Metro Rail Transit Line 3, the P7.7 billion Light Railway Transit Line 1, the P1.6 billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway link road, the P10.6 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Phase 2, and the P21 billion North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway connector road.

Infrastructure expenditures will increase the country’s GDP. It will improve investor sentiments and it will create more jobs in this struggling economy. Private corporations will become more efficient and more companies will play be able to partner with the government in improving society.

We, however, think that labelling the PPP projects as a God-sent idea is a shallow public relations (PR) attempt. For years now, even before Aquino’s administration, many roads have already been built through PPPs. Partnering with  private corporations  makes the government look more efficient, but in reality, some government officials use PPPs to buffer their corruption attempts.

The PPP initiative, as ideal as it may seem, is not immune to corruption. Considering the amount of money on hand, the government should monitor PPP allocations as overbudgeting and underspending are two words that always go together. Corporations also honor this duality; the government should ensure that corporations are not “too efficient” and they stick to the contract’s stipulations. Moreover, the administration should look into the bidding processes to make sure that the Filiponos get the best value for their taxes.

The government needs to look at the projects and consider them based on inclusive growth. Citizens fund these projects; hence, they should benefit from them. Many of the projects such as the LRT expansion will only benefit specific residents. In other words, the government should ensure that all Filipinos, if not majority of them, will benefit from the PPPs.

The administration needs to focus more on the feasibility and integrity of PPP projects. The government also needs to learn to honor its own word. It needs to secure the interest of the investors that will spend on PPP projects. Payments must be made on time and delays should be unacceptable since news about PPP projects travels fast, lest we want investors to bring their money somewhere else.

The lack of infrastructure projects in the country have long been a national issue.Let us just hope that private corporations will be able to check and balance the powers of the government in such projects, and not  tolerate the whims and caprices of officials in power.

The LaSallian

By The LaSallian

4 replies on “Editorial: Let us just hope they do a better job”

i hope the TLS people and its editorial board will also do a better job by being more objective, apolitical and intelligent in reporting campus student politics and news. You are no better than the TABLOID papers that our society has! You are simply wasting our tuition and miscellaneous fees under the guise of journalism! I regret that a portion of my student fees go to your funds! Shape up Lasallians!

And what does intelligence have to do with being apolitical? Nobody is apolitical. To be apolitical is to be apathetic. In fact it’s inhuman.

Humans are ‘political animals’ (Aristotle). Everything has to do with politics. We are where we are right now – we study in La Salle, we have money, we have a future – because past generations made collective POLITICAL decisions (exercised their political “power”) that somehow landed us on the upper echelons of Philippine society. It isn’t by chance, life’s tough, and it’s a class struggle.

Journalism has for too long operated under the myth of objectivity – there is no such thing as opinion-less journalism or complete objectivity. To report, to fact check, to take a photograph, even to put these words into writing is in itself subjective, but let’s not enter into a philosophical debate here.

Besides, I’ve come across ‘editorials’ far more radical and far more opinionated than this, and the LaSallian is nothing compared to the fiery views of the UP Collegian – which is certainly no tabloid (unless you consider a “tabloid” critical, fiercely opinionated and makamasa, then we gladly embrace that definition).

I dare say to suppress these opinions in the name of objective journalism – and remain utterly detached from the outside world while we tote our designer handbags in the pristine white halls of De La Salle – is an even bigger waste of student fees.

Now, as you’re so obviously unsatisfied, allow me to give you another ‘not-so-editorial’:
PPPs only look good on the outset. But it’s mostly a bunch of LRT and airport extensions, never-ending roads, and large scale infrastructure projects allowing for further privatisation of public utilities like water.

The government is obsessed with patchwork solutions, mega-projects that look impressive but deliver little to no tangible benefits to the poor but yield obvious benefits for capitalists who will undoubtedly cash in on cheaper and faster transport of their products nationwide.

Also, PPPs focus narrowly on Metro Manila and funnel state funds to already well-developed urban regions. The government is once again neglecting huge swathes of the countryside, leading to further urbanisation, overcrowding, unemployment in cities, a heavier burden on public services and worsening inequality and conflict, not least between urban and rural areas.

The majority of the country’s poor live in the countryside (which is why they’re desperate enough to move to Manila and live in slums) – so why not focus development efforts where they’re needed most? Why not spend on medicine and education? But of course the private sector is unwilling to risk investing in whatever is ‘unprofitable’ and ‘uncompetitive’. That includes public services. They’d rather build high rise condos than housing for the poor; manufacture junk food than invest in sustainable, small-scale agriculture; patent drugs for sale than provide generic, affordable versions for the sick and elderly.

Indeed, some of these projects have left enormous destruction in their wake, further penalizing the poor:

They make no sense and practically throw the floodgates of corruption wide open. They might work in, say, Japan or the Nordic countries – where a culture of equality and accountability reigns supreme and corporations tend not to interfere with political matters, respect their workers and the communities they do business in. They will not work in the Philippines, where a culture of corruption and runaway capitalism (on the level of SM and WalMart) is endemic, and mafia-like families with vested interests infest the very halls of power, with relatives and/or paid cronies in nearly all levels government.

This is not to generalise, but the nature of Big Business, as beholden to stockholders, means it sole aim is to profit, pure and simple. This goes directly against the interests of labourers, the environment, the ‘marginalised masses’ (yes, the Filipino paradox)… i.e. the few vs. the rest of us. Government’s role is, ideally, to buffer the common man against the whims of the free market; not compromise its position and its own power by entering into cosy relationships with Multinational, inc. just because the President is related to the CEO, or worse: owns shares in the company.

Now as to why government would want to harness the forces of greed in the public interest, is beyond me. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the main beneficiaries of PPPs are private corporations linked to at least one of the president’s relatives (Danding Cojunagco and San Miguel Corp….and Petron… and…)

But that’s my opinion.

The government is handing over responsibility/depending/pandering slavishly to the private sector to do what should be its own job.

This is similar to the claims of mining companies that provide less than 1% of our country’s jobs and contribute mere cents to our GDP, and whose entire defence can be summarised thus: “we’ve come to destroy your land, corrupt local officials, destroy your traditional way of life, and pay you scant wages for dangerous, degrading work in the mines – but look at the bright side! We’re offering you a few dozen jobs AND we built a school in (insert remote village here)”.

But no amount of CSR is going to make up for the havoc they wreak on both society (minimum wage and child labour in the mines, anyone?) and the environment. It’s the government’s role to build schools, spend on healthcare, check corporate excess, and provide quality services for the good of all, not-for-profit. This will drive up the economy without resorting to questionable business interests.

It’s the government’s role to man up, cut the bureaucratic crap, and do its job.

We have the money, just not the will.

Please, educate yourself…

…And back up your own opinions with solid evidence before ranting.

Alam mo ba kung ano ang Editorial? Hehe. You are wasting their time and my time too. Hehe. Isa kang malaking biro hehe.

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