Political posturing at expense of tech

Political posturing at expense of tech

Summary: There were two issues that cropped up recently here in the Philippines--both involving the technology sector, and top government leaders whose seeming stupidity is giving the country further embarrassment.The first instance happened right in front of Congress and in millions of television sets, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered her annual SONA (state of the nation address).

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TOPICS: Government
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There were two issues that cropped up recently here in the Philippines--both involving the technology sector, and top government leaders whose seeming stupidity is giving the country further embarrassment.

The first instance happened right in front of Congress and in millions of television sets, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered her annual SONA (state of the nation address). In one part of her speech, Arroyo announced that the local carriers cut into half the cost of SMS or text messages as per her request.

In turned out, however, that the reduced rate was merely a "temporary promo" and was arranged to coincide with the SONA so the president has something to brag to the public. The lowered rate is also not automatic since subscribers have to enroll through an access number to enjoy the discount.

After the faux pas, the president's advisors passed the blame to the head of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the country's telecom regulatory body, for not informing the president of the actual nature of the price cut. But, NTC chair Roel Canobas parried back by saying Arroyo's speechwriters did not consult him.

As a consolation, and perhaps to spare the president from further humiliation, local operators agreed to extend the SMS promo by a few more months. The NTC, meanwhile, said it would try to convince carriers to make the rate reduction a permanent one.

The second issue refers to the ongoing efforts of the government to postpone the use of computerized polls--the first for the Philippines--in the southern island of Mindanao, which is scheduled for Aug. 11.

Let me underscore my point... I can't understand for the life me why the government would want to do this. This exercise is mandated by law, and it is something that the whole country has been aspiring for the longest time. This is also intended to serve as a pilot case before its full-scale implementation for the national elections in 2010.

The government said it to wants to delay the automated polls in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to give the secessionist group MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) a chance to participate in the elections, after the signing of a peace pact this week in Malaysia. Thus, despite not having enough time to do so, it is still using all its resource to have a law passed this week the computerized polls can be pushed to 2010.

I'm sure, however, that the MILF would not take it negatively if the polls were to proceed as scheduled. Besides, the Commission of Elections has already prepared long and hard for this pilot implementation.

It would be a terrible waste of time and resources, not to mention the opportunity to showcase a modern election, if this political exercise is deferred further.

Topic: Government

Melvin G. Calimag

About Melvin G. Calimag

Melvin G. Calimag is currently the executive editor of an IT news website in the Philippines. Melvin has been covering the local IT beat for the last 13 years. He is currently a board member at the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress), and also serves as a charter member with the Philippine Science Journalists Association.

Joel D. Pinaroc

About Joel D. Pinaroc

Joel has been a media practitioner since 1996, starting off as a reporter and eventually becoming editor of a pioneering IT trade newspaper in Manila. He is currently one of the content producers of a Manila-based developmental website.

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  • Political posturing at expense of tech

    What the heck! Philippine mobile carriers have already been giving away almost unlimited SMS within their networks. This makes the 50% cut irrelevant. The president shouldn't have mentioned the promo in her SONA. Her pool of speech writers, even she, think that mobile consumers in the Philippines are dumb. Who's dumber?
    anonymous
  • Political posturing at expense of tech

    I am a Filipino, and I cannot ignore that. Whatever my leaders have been doing, all I can do is rub my upper teeth against my lower teeth even if I don't like the sound produced by the friction. Philippine politics, in my own opinion, is one of the dirtiest in the planet. I need not mention the embarrassments our leaders have been doing to the country. IT scams are among them. And one thing for sure, if they will not change, Philippines would become a fourth world country, if there is such a thing. It is very clear that, including aspiring and future leaders of this pitiful country, even at the SK level, their desire to land a public post is driven by greed, power, pride, personal interest and the like. Genuine public service? What??? Oooppss...not in the Philippine government anymore. Why would a candidate for a public post spend millions of money (ill-gotten from people's money?) just to make sure they will take the seat? Is it because of their earniest and humbliest desire to serve the people? Now reader, answer that question. They even turn God into a toy. We can see them flock to churches seated in front row waiting for their turn to approach the altar and receive anointing (???). Do we not see their motives? Poor church leaders, they are made into toy accessories. Tears are falling from my eyes. Poor Philippines. God save the Philippines. I tremble, my heart beats fast when I think of the severity of the merciful and loving Almighty God.
    anonymous