Commentary: Three "E's" - Today's highest imperatives
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu, Philippines (21 March) -- Strong economy, quality education and clean environment are the three "E's" that would define the success of the Arroyo administration.
The President considers the three "E's" and stumping corruption as the highest imperatives of the time. These issues become the defining character of the government as it continues to install mechanisms to fix corruption in the country.
Speaking before the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates in Baguio City recently, President Arroyo called the graduates as the "fine pillars of a strong economy and a strong military free from corruption."
She likewise underscores the values that the Filipinos live by. "They want their leaders to be God-fearing, hardworking, pro-poor, unafraid to make tough decisions, and loyal to the people."
She then called on the Filipinos to pray for divine guidance in the quest for national unity, reconciliation, peace and progress as "we live in a time of great moral challenges" where many of the people have fallen victims of violence, criminality, hunger, sickness, ignorance and hardships.
In the President's message during her signing of the 2008 budget, she stressed that this year's national allocation invests in the three "E's." She called them the building blocks of the nation that will make a difference in the lives of the Filipinos.
The first "E" is the economy. Against the backdrop of global economic challenges that include the slowing down of the world economies and the spiraling oil and rice prices, the President said that the overriding goal is to create more jobs and invest, invest and invest.
Key component to pump-prime the economy is to continue to modernize the nation and increase investments through human and physical infrastructure.
Arroyo pointed out that more economic investments in the infrastructure sector encourage business to "feel confident" to expand and employ more people. "More jobs means less poverty," the President added.
She also said that a strong economy needs a healthy and strong human resource. Parallel to infrastructure spending, the government is expected to invest in people through better healthcare and improved social services.
A more productive and modern agriculture sector and a more transparent and corruption-free economy are twin links to preserve the integrity of the country's excellent economic performance.
The second "E" is education. In this year's budget, education got a whopping P200 billion allocation that include funds for the state colleges and universities and the school building program.
According to the President, 2008 will see the construction of 10,000 classrooms; the purchase of some P35.5 million new textbooks; the setting up of 920 computer laboratories in public schools; 62,000 scholarships and funds for research and technology and science scholarships.
The government will also increase the college education fund to P400 million and hire up to 10,000 more teachers. Additional funds will also be allocated for vocational training, teacher training for English, math and science.
The third "E" is environment. The Arroyo administration has vowed to protect the environment through its commitment to clean air, water and healthy environment that had been included in the Philippine Master Plan called "Green Philippines."
"Growing the economy must stand alongside the protection of the environment," the President said.
The 2008 budget has allocated P5 billion for the conservation and the building of more parks and recreational areas; purify water, and clean up industrial sites.
The development of renewable and indigenous sources of energy has an allocation of some P274.16 million while reforestation has an additional funding of P300 million on top of the Philippine national Oil Company's (PNOC) own budget for the program.
The three "E's" according to the President shall define the administration's being and is reflective of the values and policy priorities for investing in the people. (PIA-Cebu) [top]