“At any rate, even if at this point, the government is pretty open about how things are going in this country, let’s at least have a law that guarantees freedom of information, who knows when another would-be dictator might come forward and be again elected President.“
by Ducky Paredes
While I would not mind having the FOI, a “Freedom of Information Act”, having been writing even during the Martial Law Years (when an FOI would have been a great help), I feel that it would not make much of a difference anymore.
We already have an “Open Government.”
As Dr. Solita Monsod writes in her column in another newspaper, “P-Noy and his administration have given us all the ammunition we need to make an informed (as opposed to the chismis type) judgment on everything he has promised to do. We just have to look at StatDev13, in the NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board) website.
‘Remember his “Social Contract with the Filipino People” that sprang from his campaign promises? Well, that Social Contract became the basis of the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016.
“The country has had several medium-term development plans. But what’s new with P-Noy’s PDP is that it was accompanied by a 98-page Results Matrices (RMs), which make easier the assessment of the government’s performance. It contains, for each chapter/sector of the PDP, the outcomes desired, which of the 16-point Social Contract items are being addressed, the indicators/units used for each outcome, the baseline values of these indicators/units. Plus, the Implementing Agencies (IAs) or Oversight Agencies (OAs) that will be held responsible for these outcomes. This is what is called a ‘whole of government managing for results’ approach.
“They mean business. The level of specificity of the targets goes into details, like the target increase in eggplant production (that’s why there’s 98 pages), which make the Reader cross-eyed. But the point is, the administration is willing to put its money where its mouth is as far as transparency and accountability are concerned.
“What’s more, the Reader doesn’t have to go to the different agencies to find out what their performance was. It is all put together for us by another government agency, the NSCB, which publishes the StatDev in its website (www.nscb.gov.ph). Not only does StatDev 13 (the “13” stands for 2013) present the targets and their latest actual accomplishments, it also tells us at a glance (red frowny face, green smiley face and yellow deadpan face) what the probabilities are of achieving the target. The technical details are provided elsewhere as to how these probabilities are computed.
“How’s that for transparency?”
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Curious, I accessed the webpage. Most of their stats are circa 2013 and prior which is probably what the government can also give out even under an FOI regime. Wikipedia tells us that over 90 countries have some form of freedom of information legislation with Sweden’s being the oldest in the world, since 1766.
At any rate, even if at this point, the government is already pretty open about how things are going in this country but let’s at least have a law that guarantees freedom of information. Who knows when another would-be dictator might come forward and be again elected President.
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The National Statistical Coordination Board’s (NSCB) Secretary General is Jose Ramon G. Albert, a doctoral degree holder in statistics from the State University of New York and a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Dr. Albert assumed office as the new NSCB Secretary General on September 24, 2012.
Secretary General Albert graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics as a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Scholar at the De La Salle University in Manila in 1985. He was also an Awardee for Excellence in Mathematics. He took his Master of Science in Statistics at the State University of New York at Stoney Brook in 1989 where he also earned his doctoral degree in Statistics in 1993.
Prior to his appointment as NSCB Secretary General, Dr. Albert was a Consultant of development agencies such as the United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (UNSIAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Department for International Development. He has also served as Consultant of various government agencies of the following countries: Malaysia’s Economic Planning Unit, Lao’s Department of Statistics, the Qatar General Secretariat for Development Planning, the Malawi Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, and Ethiopia’s Central Statistics Agency, among others.
He had also worked as Professorial Lecturer of Statistics at the University of the Philippines, Diliman; Graduate School of Business, De La Salle University, Manila; and, as Adjunct Faculty Member of the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.
For many years, Dr. Albert has been actively involved in various efforts towards statistical development of the country being a member of various NSCB Technical Committees/ Technical Working Groups on Poverty Statistics, Survey Design, Seasonal Adjustment of Philippine Time Series and Population and Housing Statistics, cognizant of his statistical expertise on these areas.
Dr. Albert writes interestingly. Here is a snippet from one of his articles: “In 2012, the annual cost of maintaining each prisoner in the country (as per the 2012 General Appropriations Act), is P19,345. This cost per inmate includes food and medicine allowance, and is much higher than the maximum assistance provided to a poor family at P15,000 per year under the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the government.” The NCSB webpage also produces something called “Sexy Statistics” and Filipino Versions of arricles on sttistics!
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We have a letter from a reader:
“Once again your column has shown what is really at stake. Impeachment seeking lawmakers are only out to make themselves smelling like a rose but it’s very expensive nowadays to even buy a small bottle of perfume. These guys are just starting the 2016 general campaign so early as they ran out of issues to tackle. I do agree SIR we did replace Estrada with another plunderer who had carved a name for herself and will be forever known as the small but terrible crook and his equally greedy and obese husband.
“Pnoy Aquino might not be the very best President we ever had but his reputation is still that of an honest to goodness leader whose credibility is still respected by many intelligent people.
“I do agree with you that Binay has now reached the apex of being a billionaire despite not having any inherited wealth (like the Aquinos) and is now trying to fool everyone of his alleged sense of being a good but meek public leader. Just think of the consequences of having another dwarf sitting in the Palace surrounded by his ever loyal lackeys and sycophants and drumbeaters. His reputation is that of aligning himself with questionable leaders such as Enrile and the now known and hated crook family the Estradas. These people deserve to be behind bars together with GMA who is pretending to be sick. The Revilla senator is a good example of what it takes to have a dynasty together with the midget Binays and Estradas.
“It leaves me wondering why these opportunists are trying to undo the good work Pnoy has done despite many setbacks both natural and man made.
“At the end of the day we always come to realize how wrong we are as usual and then just scratch our heads and ever bulging bellies thinking where we went wrong… again !!!
“It does make sense for an intelligent person like you to include despite everything the country has moved a little bit forward. Population control which the Church abhors has not been successful and the question comes to mind: What has the Church done to alleviate the poor’s hunger, thirst,lack of education and opportunities to thrive?
“Come 2016 elections money will flow (probably mostly stolen from the coffers of the taxpayers ) to finance vote buying, harassment and guns and gold and goons again reminiscent of the past and we come to elect a new leader who is as tainted as the color of his skin.
“Need we say more who that person is…” Ramon Mendoza
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My niece, Tina Quirino, first born of my Sister Barbara (Babsy), died of cancer in Eugene, Oregon, USA last Saturday (Sunday in Manila). Prayers are appreciated.
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hvp 07.28.14Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.