Friday August 17, 2018

Editorial: ‘Asphalt storm’

Editorial Cartoon by Rolan John Alberto

THE younger Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña had a fancy term for the strategy: asphalt storm. The asphalting work was done one after the other or almost simultaneously on the city’s streets, making it difficult to ignore. It is public service but its greater purpose is to catch attention for a reason: propaganda.

That is precisely what is happening in Cebu City now where already asphalted roads are scraped and asphalted again, although, to be fair, this is also happening in other localities. Which only means that not only local government units are into it but also the national government, specifically the Department of Public Works and Highways. The scraping and the asphalting is frenzied.

It’s an old p.r. stunt that relies on the supposedly short memory of the country’s electorate. Today’s asphalting work makes the electorate forget that not much was done yesterday--or a year or two after an elected official assumes his post--in terms of repairing roads. In that period, nothing is done despite complaints from constituents. But that is forgotten when roads are finally asphalted.

This is a reflection both of the kind of government officials and the kind of voters we have. Good governance is one that neither puts a timetable on the implementation of projects nor puts a premium on the propaganda value of project implementation. The good voter, on the other hand, is not won over by timing but by the overall work of incumbents running for reelection.

But we are talking of the ideal and not the pragmatic, which politicians often adhere to. Some elected government officials are even worse. They follow what a Cebuano politician once dubbed as “Operation Day 1.” In this strategy, the newly elected official begins implementing a reelection plan on the very first day of his or her assumption of the post.

This is a sad description of our politics and politicians, and by extension of our electorate. Sadder still is the fact that many of us consider this setup as one that should be accepted instead of being condemned and changed. So that when we see the frenzied road works as election nears, we are more amused than insulted.