Positive signs-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
THE arrest by the National Bureau of Investigation agents of three persons reportedly engaging in corrupt activities inside the Office of the Building Official (OBO) signals several significant events in the New Government Center.
That one of the culprits turned out to be a recent appointee of the Puentevella Administration sends a clear message that corruption is not welcome under the new government, even for appointees of the mayor. The contractor complained about the attempted bribe to the Sangguniang Panlungsod, which immediately took steps to investigate it. The NBI was brought in, an entrapment operation was conducted and the arrests were swiftly made.
Mayor Puentevella lauded the arrest, agreed with the prosecution of the three offenders and publicly warned other officers and personnel of City Hall that similar corrupt acts will be just as harshly and swiftly dealt with. It was disciplinary teamwork, the kind we have not seen for some time.
Legitimate contractors now have a chance to test the resolve of the new Administration to eradicate corruption within the Government Center. They can follow the example set by their peer who formally complained about the attempt to get bribe money from him, and who got prompt results.
I also see it as a positive sign that OBO personnel have raised questions about the reported re-computation done by their head of office, on the fees paid by a business establishment. The re-computation is supposed to have substantially reduced the collectible income of City Hall. It indicates that because of the OBO Incident the employees are now prepared to right a perceived wrong, trusting that the investigation will be supported by the Mayor and the councilors. Right or wrong, it opens up a freer atmosphere within the city government that can speed up the cleansing process.
Likewise, the public has something to cheer about with the arrests coming so soon after the Puentevella Administration took over. Considering the makeup of the new government, one-half belonging to the MKK Group and the other half to rival Grupo Progreso, many were initially skeptical that real change could happen. People felt that the long-running rivalry between Mayor Puentevella and Congressman Evelio Leonardia could blunt cooperation between the camps that each one respectively led. The arrest and prosecution of the “OBO Three” has raised our hopes. It now appears that when it matters the most, the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor and the SP members can team up after all.
The overwhelming public approval of the arrest should motivate and encourage our new city officials to continue cleaning up the NGC ranks. They now have the support of the public, and one cannot look for a stronger backer. With the people behind them, Mayor Monico and the SP members can bite the bullet, assured that it will not explode in their faces.
The arrest of the OBO Three has boosted the credibility of the present Administration in the eyes of the watching public. We watch and wait with interest, to see how they will use that force in the days ahead.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 16, 2013.