AFTER the alleged plagiarism reportedly committed by one Supreme Court associate justice, another issue was raised by City of San Fernando Mayor Oscar "Oca" S. Rodriguez, this time in his capacity as president of the League of Cities of the Philippines.
In his letter to the Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer published on August 4, 2010, Mayor Oca stated that the Supreme Court (SC) flip flopped (again?) on the legitimacy of 16 small municipalities which were, by legislative fiat, suddenly made cities, the only cogent reason perhaps is their being capital towns of affected provinces.
Mayor Oca pointed out the "illegally declared" cities clearly lacked or did not meet the criteria required to qualify as cities, namely: average annual income of P100 million, population and size of the area. Though the SC had already disposed off the case contesting the creation of undeserving municipalities with finality, and entry of judgment done in May 2009, the same was overturned, in evident concession to a very prominent lawyer who got to have the (honorable?) SC justices reverse the final and executory decision, all this in favor of the "undeserving" cities.
Such is the wonder of the camaraderie in the legal profession and system, I'd say, and everything and anything can be done, undone or made in favor of a companero. The city-members of the LCP, of course, stand to lose more of their shares in the IRA pie as the 16 pretenders take their slots in the already overcrowding league. Of course, its president, Mayor Oca has all the reason to gripe and grunt over the SC's flip flopping. Would it be contemptuous to assume that the once revered highest tribunal is losing steam in pursuit of integrity and esteem?
Tesda tested, weighed and found wanting. The new Director General of Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), Joel Villanueva, a former party-list representative and son of losing presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva, has unearthed several shocking anomalies allegedly committed by officials of Tesda.
DG Villanueva enumerated dubious contracts entered into by his predecessors, which amounted to several million pesos and debts to training schools which may have been in cahoots with unscrupulous Tesda high officials in hoodwinking the national government of hundreds of millions more. It was found out that fly-by-night schools and ghost scholars were recipients of funds under the Pangulong Gloria scholarships and which were better off given to the poorest of the poor.
I suggest that P-Noy task people to conduct massive, extensive, detailed and comprehensive investigations on the anomalies and thereafter relentlessly prosecute the malefactors, including Villanueva's two predecessors, August Syjuco and Pastor Guiao.
P-Noy wants the Tesda strengthened and so focus should be given on technical-vocational courses but with the coffers now bled dry, would this be another futile attempt and an impossible dream?
Obscene, if not intriguing. The reports published by the Commission on Audit on the huge salaries and perks received by chairmen and CEOs of state-run facilities like SBMA and CDC and GFIs led by SSS, LBP, GISIS, BSP and others must shock the consciousness of the subject officials who have deprived the minimum wage earners and marginalized worker proper use of taxpayers' money.
In the front page last Saturday, August 7, the PDI reported on government officials who received staggering amounts drawn as salaries, allowances and extraordinary and miscellaneous fees by top officials of SBMA chair Armand Arreza, CDC's Benigno Ricafort, DBP's Edgardo Garcia and Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr., BSP's Amando Tetangco Jr., BCDA's Narciso Abaya, SSS' Horacio T. Templo and other leeches from LGP, MWSS and BCDA.
It is good and timely that the new administration has put as guide posts transparency and accountability in government service. The recent revocation of the appointments considered illegal is one fine warning shot to those who intend to perpetuate the past Arroyo government's excesses, insatiable greed and obscene actuations while in office.
While the euphoria over good governance is still hot, why not zero in on the subordinates of the chairmen and CEOs and check on their lifestyles, reduce their salaries and perks and curtail their overseas travels. This way, considerable savings may be registered and given to more deserving beneficiaries. It would be also wise judgment to include the members of the board of directors of those aforementioned firms. As it is, P-Noy is excellently living up to his promise to be frugal, prudent and judicious in the use of government funds. I hope all government officials and every one, for that matter, religiously follow the president's self-effacing example.
Speaking of camaraderie and bonding, the officials and department heads of the LGU of Mabalacat had one pleasing experience in Subic last week, converging at Subic Bay Travellers Hotel for a seminar-workshop on the Executive-Legislative Agenda Formulation. Spearheaded by the local DILG office, headed by Naty Dungca and assisted by Jay, Nize and Nong, the seminar was attended by no less than Mayor Boking Morales and Vice Mayor Noel Castro, along with members of the Sangguniang Bayan, assisted by Lai, Ailene and Edith and the department heads, notably Jun Magbalot and Marlene Molina Mendiola, who claimed that it was a valuable experience and of good help in the formulation of the various executive as well as legislative tasks. Sorely missed were Municipal Administrator Rosan Paquia and SB Member Jerry Basilio.