BY PET MELLIZA/THE BEEKEEPER
The segment of the national road at the plaza of Mandurriao district, Iloilo City, fronting the PNP station was still serviceable. Its 11-inch thick base can could still last for another 10 years but for some reasons, it was condemned and reconstructed.
In contrast, the road traversing the old airport from Dungon in the same district has been wretched since 2008 and badly needs repair. It has poor drainage and during rains, vehicles wade through knee-deep water. During dry days dust billows as vehicles plod through even though they slow down to avoid holes big enough to swallow an elephant. When will the day of deliverance come?
Two-lane blocks at the middle of the Benigno Aquino Highway or Diversion Road fronting a giant mall, are now being excavated when they are still sturdy and serviceable. We could have asked our leaders that the budget for that could well be spent to one that badly needs repair.
In contrast, the concrete road linking Tabuc Suba with Bitoon, both in Jaro District, remains dilapidated though it has been crying out loudly for repair for years.
The concrete road along the Super Market that traverses through the two big structures owned by a mall where the city government once held office, was still strong and very much serviceable but for some reasons, it was demolished for reconstruction before the 2010 elections.
Good governance tells us that scarce resources should be spent where they are needed most. Good managers are so-called because they know how to prioritize expenditures to the most urgent need. Iloilo City is not wanting in roads worse off than those in the boondocks yet public monies are wasted not to rehabilitate them, but to reconstruct those that hardly need one, like tossing bundles of food to the well-fed instead of the famished.
The average men and women of the streets are not that naïve not to smell rat in in the good habit of our public officials of splurging taxpayers’ monies to repair structures that don’t need one. “Sa project may kickback,” they would tell you of public works as opportunities for thievery.
When the “white paper” reached the press recently linking certain officials to kickbacks from public works, the citizenry’s response was: gee, I told you so.
Thievery in the implementation of infrastructure projects has been a public knowledge as matter-of-course for officials demand “standard operating procedure”, “SOP”, “commission”, “tongpats”, kickbacks or what-not.
The white paper zeroes in on one congressman whose SOP is 15 percent minimum, and discloses his favorite contractor who in turn, maintains a stable of dummies. The politician denies it vehemently blaming political fever instead. Elections is approaching, only next year, so gossips of that sort fly fast and high, he muses.
“Hole of Justice” columnist Peter Jimenea earlier tagged this congressman at the center wind of the stormy report of the Commission on Audit (COA) released in 2009 that when he was still at the helm of a local office, his administration could not account physically for the acquisition of at least P800 million in properties, plant and equipment (PPE) because of missing documents, the objects purportedly purchased missing, or there were discrepancies in supporting records.
The white paper report may not pass the rule on evidence practiced in court, it may even be dismissed as hearsay and as handiwork of a coward scared to stand the rigor of a cross examination that he/she remains anonymous.
However, its detailed narration of facts and identification of the key players in the drama appeared convincing so strong enough to affect the political career of the congressman. It sounds factual, credible, logical and may persuade voters in the May 2013 elections to give another candidate the mandate to represent them in Congress.
The “tongpats” is not the monopoly of that congressman, in fairness to him. Corruption is neither confined in this City of Love alone.
The disease has already infected all public offices nationwide. The Greek Philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, if he were around, could be pulling off yet another political stunt of carrying a lamp in daytime. People would ask him what he was doing. He would answer: looking for an honest man.