Two curious happenings

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


TWO strange things happened during the last two days.

The first was the advice given by a regional agriculture official to eat less rice in order to reduce the need to import the staple. They’re serving only half a plate of rice in Bohol, she said.

Why can’t we do it here where our farms are smaller and less productive?

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Going slow on carbohydrates isn’t such a bad idea especially for people with medical issues like diabetes or those who are just watching weight. And camote, which she suggested as an alternate, is nourishing and delicious. Take it from one whose dining table isn’t complete without the boiled sweet yam.

But my goodness, is the situation so bad that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has to ask us to adopt nearly desperate measures? This is the government agency that is in charge of promoting agricultural production, people. I would have understood if the call came from Slimmers’ World.

Only a few years ago, agriculture officials were trumpeting the huge gains we supposedly had in rice production. From being an importer of rice, we have become an exporter, we were told?

So what happened? Where did we go wrong? Was that all propaganda?

What worries me is that the DA could set off similar moves from other agencies in order to cover up for their deficiencies. Nothing wrong about being asked to save but can you imagine being told to drink half a glass of water, instead, of one because our wells are drying up?

***

The other curious happening took place in Talisay City where Mayor JVR de los Reyes accused the city council of hampering basic social services in refusing to give him blanket authority to enter into contracts not exceeding P3 million.

The funnier thing was that the objection to grant de los Reyes full discretion to decide on such contracts came from Councilor Soc Fernandez who, as mayor, enjoyed the privilege denied to JVR. “I am just trying to shield you from possible legal consequences,” Soc said.

Until de los Reyes voiced out his frustration, I did not know that the Talisay City Government did have that policy of granting plenary authority to the mayor on certain transactions. It was wrong then; it is wrong now.

Good governance requires a certain amount of check and balance. It is a travesty that the city council had abdicated its solemn duty to examine all contract proposals to determine whether they are in the best interests of the city. But it is not too late to make amends.

The review by the council before it stamps approval on a project isn’t a bureaucratic nicety to dispense with as the mayor pleases. JVR may have no stomach for that, coming as he does from a culture that empowers him to make all the business decisions. But this is City Hall, Mayor, is not your private business enterprise.

Moreover, the Talisay City Council has never denied authority from JVR when he sought it. Majority of the councilors do not belong to the mayor’s political party but so far they have admirably been non-partisan in making decisions.

Councilor Aldin Diaz put it all in perspective when he said: “I am not against the mayor. I don’t think he needs blanket authority because the City Council, regardless of political affiliation, has always supported his projects and programs even from the start.”

Diaz is said to be a political ally of de los Reyes. He voted against his request.

So there you go, JVR. Instead of acting like a petulant child after he did not get what he wanted, you should endeavor to make your relationship with the council even better. You can co-exist; the secret is in one not asking the other to give up a legal duty on the pretext of expediting basic social services.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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