New York-bound PB members-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
I AM NOT all agog about study tours, so the story “Guv approves dads’ study tour” written by Sun.Star Cebu’s Oscar C. Pineda immediately caught my attention. “Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III approved the seven-day study tour program on drug rehabilitation in New York, USA for 10 Cebu legislators,” wrote Oskee.
I really have no problem with government officials expanding their knowledge on certain concerns, like “the science of addiction, its prevention and treatment and how rehabilitation centers should be run.” The words in quotation are from Provincial Board (PB) Member Gigi Sanchez who, through a resolution, urged his colleagues to attend the study tour.
But the tour would be held not in rehab facilities in Barangay Apas or Argao but in New York. That brings into focus computations of benefits vs. cost. More so because the governor, in granting the 10 PB members the authority to travel, ordered thus:
“You are authorized to charge all expenses for travel and room accommodations and such other expenses relative thereto against the available funds of your respective offices, subject to the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations.”
Oskee’s story talked about a seminar fee of $1,500 per participant. That’s around P64,500 in the current exchange rate. Multiply that by ten PB members and Capitol will pay P645,000 for the seminar fee alone. Add to that the expenses for travel and room accommodations for ten PB members for at least seven days and you are talking of a six-figure cost.
You will get my drift if you consider that the governor has been portraying the Provincial Government as cash-strapped. And what will the government get in return for the trip?
I thought the invitation for the tour was made by the United States or New York City government, which would have meant that the sponsor will pay for the seminar expenses.
It turned out it was done by Daytop International, a New York-based non-government organization.
Daytop International is a spinoff from Daytop Village, one of the largest and oldest drug rehabilitation agencies in New York State. Daytop Village was founded by Msgr. William O’Brien in 1963. The word “Daytop” is an acronym for “Drug Addicts Yield to Persuasion,” which sums up the organization’s drug rehab philosophy.
Interestingly, an Associated Press (AP) report that came out in April last year said that Daytop Village had filed for bankruptcy protection as “a result of extreme financial pressure from its lending institutions.” It attributed its losses to a decline in inpatient residents, from 1,100 in 2006 to about 700 last year.
Declaring bankruptcy, Daytop said, would allow it to “continue its mission of treating and rehabilitating substance abusers while it continues to reorganize, improve its financial position and ensure long-term viability.” It had agreed to sell its Manhattan headquarters to help pay off its debt.
The report did not say if Daytop International was affected by the financial woes of Daytop Village. Also, nothing there says that Daytop International is unreliable as host to our PB members. I am writing this to merely stress the virtue of going deeper into the invitation.
Oskee’s story stated that the Department of Interior and Local Government has yet to approve the travel applications and documents of the PB members identified as Sanchez, Peter John Calderon, Jude Sybico, Julian Daan, Raul Alcoseba, Joven Mondigo Jr., Sun Shimura, Miguel Antonio Magpale, Arleigh Sitoy and Wilyamie Caminero.
Meaning there is time to look into the logic of the trip, cost-benefit ratio, etc. and prevent wasteful spending. Profligacy, surely, is not the sole domain of the administration of former governor Gwen Garcia.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 11, 2013.