JVR should look at his own backyard

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Thursday, May 1, 2014


OUR constitution names only three constitutional commissions: the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is not one of them even if it was also created by the 1987 Constitution.

Among the powers of the CHR is to “provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection.”

It was probably in the exercise of this authority that the CHR conducted an investigation on the case of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia, whom the academy expelled after a committee of his peers found him guilty of violating the cadets’ Honor Code.

The CHR now says that based on its investigation, Cudia has not violated the Honor Code. So what now? What can the CHR do? Obviously, it cannot compel the PMA to abide by its findings, allow Cudia to graduate and grant him his commission.

The CHR entered the picture because it was asked to do so by Cudia’s family. They got a favorable ruling but all it accomplished, it now appears, was to raise false hopes for the expelled cadet to get his derailed military career back on track.

***

The allegations that the City of Talisay failed to meet its contractual and legal monetary obligations are so serious that the city’s leadership should do more than just offer the excuse that these debts were incurred during the term of former mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Indeed, it is not a question of when these debts were contracted and by which mayor.

If the payable is legitimate, JVR should order its payment. If not, then he should categorically say so and hail the officials responsible to the Ombudsman for entering into a deal that is disadvantageous to the government.

The Commission on Audit (COA) did not say that it found such an anomalous transaction.

What it discovered instead were that the current administration: incurred a budget deficit of P47.92 million in 2013; has not paid the barangays’ share in real property taxes for that same year to the tune of P49 million; has not remitted its payables to the national government; and has used for other purposes the city’s trust funds.

These are very serious allegations and while the JVR administration has announced that it will immediately implement austerity measures, it is simply not enough to put the city’s finances back to shape, especially since the mayor’s idea of austerity is to reduce the quota of each councilor’s job order employees while retaining his own.

The Talisay City Government needs sound fiscal management, something that JVR’s team of advisers, coming mostly from his family, has not been able to provide, through, perhaps, no fault of theirs. The mayor says his relatives are honest and well-intentioned and I believe him but he needs more than just honest intentions to run a city.

Incidentally, I received last month a list, supplied by someone who claimed he worked in the Talisay city government, of JVR’s relatives allegedly connected with City Hall. I am not vouching for the accuracy of the list that included two of JVR’s daughters, three sons and their wives, two brothers, a sister, three nephews and a niece but since JVR himself has admitted having hired relatives at City Hall, we call
on him to identify them.

I am not necessarily saying that the mayor’s relatives were responsible for the city’s precarious financial position but if he is serious about cost-cutting by laying off non-tenured employees at City Hall, he should start looking at his own backyard.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 02, 2014.

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