Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SSL 3 Okayed by PGMA, Finally!

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed the SSL 3 Joint Resolution yesterday before departing for Japan. Finally, government employees will be receiving their long-awaited salary increases starting next month (read more here). The last salary adjustment for government personnel was in 1994.

The ridiculously low salary levels in government is undeniably one of the main reasons why graft and corruption is rampant today. Also, the poor pay in government also affects the quality of service that our people get from our civil servants.

Filipinos have to accept the idea that if they want a clean and efficient government, they have to pay government employees the right salaries. Singapore has one of the most efficient government in Asia because its government employees has one of the highest salary rates in Asia. During the pre-war period under the Americans, the Philippines enjoyed a relatively graft-free government. But this was because civil servants then were paid handsomely for their work: a middle-ranking bureacrat then earned what today is equivalent to P3 million a year and a high-ranking official then (say, a senator or a judge) received P10 million annual salary. Even low-ranking employees like chauffeurs and janitors then received an average salary of P35,000 a month.

Filipinos also have to accept the fact that we have to pay government people what is commensurate to their skills and responsibilities of their office. Right now, a call center employee earns more than say, a state prosecutor or a lieutenant colonel in-charge of a battalion in the Armed Forces. If the call center employee commits an error, chances are it will only result in an unhappy customer. But if the prosecutor messes up a case or the military officer bungles a mission, lives will be adversely affected or even lost. It saddens me to see all our young bright minds flocking to work as telephone operators while their talents can be put to better use and their lives devoted to a higher purpose in government service. But with the low pay, it's very hard to attract the best people to join government nowadays.

I believe that salaries in government should at least be at par or even higher than the private sector. This is really the only solution to lessen the graft and corruption which has plagued our country since time immemorial.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My First Cheque From Google

Yesterday I received thru mail courier a cheque from Google Adsense amounting to Php11,404.38, representing income from the various ads posted in this blog. It was a truly delightful Father's Day surprise for me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Resurgence of AM Radio

I just recently discovered that you can actually listen to your favorite AM and FM stations in Iloilo City thru the internet. I believe the techie term for it is "streaming." Now, Ilonggos living abroad and elsewhere who are longing for a piece of home can tune in to Bombo Radyo Iloilo, Aksyon Radyo Iloilo and DYRI-RMN and get updated on the latest goings-on in Iloilo City.

I don't know if this is unique to Iloilo City but unlike in other highly-urbanized areas like Manila, Quezon City or Cebu City where people now prefer to get their information from television, a considerable number of people in Iloilo still listen avidly to AM radio. Ilonggo deejays and radio commentators are still treated as celebrities wherever they go. Several of them in fact were able to parlay their media celebrity to win public office. In the Iloilo City Council for example, there are several members who made their names as hard-hitting radio commentators.

Radio streaming may very well signal the resurgence of AM radio, which in the past decades has lost a lot of its audience share to television.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Being "Matulungin sa Mahihirap" is the Ticket to Malacanang

Yesterday I went to the Senate to observe the hearing of the Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Noynoy Aquino on several redistricting bills. Although the agenda did not include the Iloilo City redistricting bill, I was interested to get a "feel" on how hearings are being conducted by Senator Aquino. Senators Mar Roxas, Dick Gordon and Chiz Escudero were also present during the hearing along with several congressmen who were lobbying for the approval of their respective bills.

There were four (4) redistricting bills up for discussion that day: Puerto Princesa City, Iligan City, Lapu-Lapu City (Cebu) and Pangasinan. Right off, the proponents argued that since their local population have increased they are now entitled to more representation. Pangasinan for example, as Congressman Aguedo Agbayani pointed out, now has 2.7 million inhabitants but only six (6) representatives in Congress. If the Constitutional provision of one congressman per 250,000 Filipinos is to be followed, then Pangasinan he claimed should have ten (10) congressmen. Congresswoman Nerissa Soon-Ruiz likewise said that her district is one of the largest in the country, comprised of two highly-urbanized cities (Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu) plus Consolacion and Cordova towns. Thus, she is sponsoring a bill to give Lapu-Lapu City (where the Mactan Export Processing Zone is located) its own district representative.

The proponents for Iligan and Puerto Princesa likewise argued along "our population has increased" line and added that the P70 million-a-year pork barrel allocated for each district would go a long way to improve their area's infrastructure and services.


Pulse Asia released its Ulat ng Bayan survey on presidentiables yesterday and it basically revealed the following:

1. The top presidential contenders are Noli de Castro (18%), Chiz Escudero, (17%) Erap Estrada (15%), Manny Villar (14%) and Mar Roxas (13%). Since surveys have a plus or minus 3% margin of error, the five are in a statistical tie. In other words, the 2010 election is "anybody's ballgame" and the winner in 2010 will most likely be the one who is able to consistently make the "correct" campaign decisions in the next twelve months.

2. Mar Roxas was the biggest gainer while Loren Legarda was the biggest loser. Pulse Asia notes that Noli de Castro, Erap Estrada and Manny Villar each lost a percentage point since their February 2009 poll. Whether this is just a fluke or an initial sign that they have "plateaud" Pulse Asia did not say. But one thing is clear from the survey: Mar Roxas must be doing something right for him to jump by 5 percentage points.

3. Traits that Filipinos look for in the next president. The Pulse Asia survey also tried to gauge what qualities the people are looking for in the next president and "Pagtulong/Pagsuporta/Pagtingin sa Mahihirap" easily was the most important trait because it got 27.3% of the respondents. On the other hand, traits like "Hindi Corrupt, Sinusugpo ang Nangungurakot," "Mabait/Mabuti/Disente," and "Matalino" got only 7.1%, 6.6% and 5% respectively. This might explain why Erap, despite having been convicted of plunder, continues to figure prominently in the surveys while Senator Ping Lacson, who has pegged himself as a no-nonsense anti-corruption champion, suffered a 2%-drop in his rating. This also partly explains why Legarda, who is trying to paint herself as the "green" candidate, suffered a tremendous drop - Filipinos simply don't care enough about the environment for them to decide their votes on the basis of whether the candidate is "makakalikasan" or not.

So it seems being perceived to be "matulungin sa mahihirap" is the next ticket to Malacanang. The presidentiables will now try to "out-Erap" Erap and people can expect to be deluged by another round of "TV infomercials" depicting concern for the poor and downtrodden in the coming months.