Rooting for change amid a P48.9M heist at the COWD-A A +A
By Dr. Bob Ocio
Isyo ug Servicio
Saturday, October 5, 2013
MY DEAR friend, Ben Contreras wrote, "Many Rooted for Change." Borrowing from the words of Ben, my question is, “What change are we rooting for?” Let us deal with some specifics at the COWD or we might have not leveled off with our expectations.
There is a reported robbery involving your own employees. Are you expected to ask them to resign and then, let them go away with it, just like that? No Sir! You are going to ask the police to arrest them and press charges. Such is the case of the P48.9 million corruption reported by the COA on the COWD contract which was duly copy furnished to City Hall.
This is the reason why we install a new Mayor to go after these people, whose executives are remnants of the past. Are we mincing words here? Or we simply think that running City Hall is just like doing some lousy street cleaning? We can be told to wait… but please tell us what we are going to wait for. That is customer service if the people in the government admit that we are simply dealing with our clients here, which in this case, are the people we promised to serve. Such is the essence of public accountability which we are rooting for under this administration.
City Hall received the COA report and recommendations regarding the case on graft and corruption charges for the bulk water supply between COWD and its contractors amounting to P47.9 million, just P1.2 million short of plunder, which is an unbailable capital offense punishable by law against officials who were beholden to the Emano administration.
It has to have a sense of urgency and duty to act accordingly and reassure its constituents that it is acting with dispatch to solve the present standoff and crisis, and to give due justice to the call of our people to be vindicated from 15 years of oppression and financial mismanagement which it promised to fix in a "Hapsay" campaign in the past electoral campaign.
Now, the question is it enough to call for the resignation of these COWD Directors without making the whole conspirators to pay for the money and subsequent damages thereof, which was declared "disallowed" by the COA?
Do we really think that people just come and raid us with almost P50 million and leave us alone waiting for a water to come day in and day out to no avail and even get an announcement instead, that the rates are to be increased by 30 percent? How many times over, did your faucet come out with water colored brown and spilled with mud every time after a brown out?
The Cagayan de Oro Water crisis and plunder is deemed a joke on us if we shall allow the city government to refuses to interfere accordingly.
This crisis is running like a skyway train losing its brakes at maximum speed and we are helplessly looking on as this lone patriotic engineer tells us that it is on its way out of the trail to hit our children and families. What will an announcement by the city mayor asking the Board of Directors to resign do? Nothing. It’s just like asking Elipe to resign on the mining issue.Pildi na man si Dongkoy, ato na ning sulbahon.
Look, the power is in the hands of the city government to use its resources to defend the interests of the people. I'm throwing that question to the mayor himself. What now, Mr. Mayor? Do we have the balls to file the case for and behalf of the people whom we represent? The mayor received the COA report. Then, announce the formation of a legal panel to see to it that its recommendations are enforced and the appropriate measures are done. Better still, let the people know what is on his mind, to reassure the people that an ongoing action has been done.
Let us review some tenets of a democracy:
First, Transparency-The Mayor needs to inform us of the steps he is taking and the actions of his administration appertaining thereto, considering the urgency of a vital service industry already in crisis.
Second, Participatory democracy- We the governed, not only need to speak out. We needed to be consulted. As such, we are exercising our democratic rights and obligations to participate.
Third: Accountability- Public office is a public trust. Public officials are deemed accountable at all times. Is this not the change that we were rooting for to ensure that the past administration is dismantled?
Fourth: Respecting the Mayor includes disagreeing with him and demanding action for and in behalf of the public interest. As such, exercising our duties and obligations as citizens is a claim our self respect to our own self respect- an anathema to blind obedience which is indirectly suggested.
The COA findings are vital evidence which points to irregularities which are contrary to the public interest. Therefore, the mayor as the duly elected public official and the city council is mandated to act on the matter with dispatch and decisiveness. People might believe in the lie that this problem is simple. I was there when the cause for privatizing the supply of the water was discussed in the city council way back in the late 90's. This is a case where the people of this city have been made to believe that privatizing the water services in our city will serve our interest.
The COA said no, the people are cheated in the process. Hence, when we, the governed was cheated by its own government, we simply have to demand our freedoms and rights to be accorded the same respect and services due to us. In this case, the bad guys have been stealing from us for years.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 06, 2013.