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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, July 21, 2016
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Intel fund


It escaped the notice of many of our citizens but the recent declaration by President Duterte that the intelligence fund of local governments will be investigated is a step towards the solution of many of our ills. Indeed the proliferation of the illegal drugs trade can be traced to the “failure of intelligence”, the failure of local civil and police officials.

We normally think of intelligence fund as a matter of course in the military and police forces because basic to their function is to gather information from friend and foe alike, as a tool in decision-making. As military doctrine would say, a commander can be forgiven for losing a battle but never for being surprised. Knowing the enemy's intents and capabilities are fundamental.

Unknown to most citizens every branch and office of the civil government has an intelligence fund. Local governments down to the barangay have intelligence fund. Aside from those of the military and police organizations, this fund runs into billions of pesos and these are not subject to normal audit.They are thus the most abused and profligately spent money of the public weal, like the reported bribing of councilors to pass a defective tax ordinance.

If the barangay and local officials, not discounting the police were doing their jobs, illegal drugs would not have grown to horrendous level. Used properly the intelligence fund can help local governments to know who is producing, distributing and using drugs.

I believe they know but despite this information, they choose to ignore the disease in their communities. The number of users and pushers that have surrendered affirms the dual observation – intelligence is not used properly or the authorities choose the other way to keep the problem under lid.

Intelligence funds are not only for the illegal drugs but for all illegal activities. This fund is the resource that local officials can tap to know what's going on or what is not.

Last Sunday I bumped into former Occidental Governor Lito Coscolluela who asked me about the plan of the government to investigate the use of the intelligence fund. He also noted the problem of garbage in the city and since I told him I am not involved in the city's governance, I referred him to Bacolod City Administrator John Orola.

But his inquiry prompted this column. The proliferation of garbage in the city like the tidal wave of illegal drugs, indicates that the funds are not used to address the problem of garbage.

The city has entered into a contract with a garbage collector. The rationale of privatizing a basic function of government to create a clean city is that private companies are more efficient. That garbage collection has not met the intent of privatizing this function invalidates this rationale.

It means that the contractor has failed to clean up the city by collecting its garbage efficiently despite almost P200 million contracted fee. The mounds of garbage around the city prove this observation. I recall that in 2013 the budget for garbage collection under contract was just about P79 million. Something is not right but nobody is questioning.

The contract is to expire next month. This was supposed to end by June 30 but was extended and thus the ball is in the court of the Mayor Evelio Leonardia administration. He cannot do anything with the existing contract at this time but by next month he will be responsible to answer questions like those of Lito.

We will know later how Mayor Leonardia addresses this problem which, by the way, was one of the main issues in the 2016 election.

On the other hand, the reason for the uncollected garbage could be that the collectors are not aware where mounds of trash are located. This is an unbelievable observation but that is a reality because the collectors have left them for days.

Barangay officials have funds to compensate for monitors to report the uncollected garbage. As the law requires, the barangay officials are primarily responsible for cleanliness of their community. It is not the mayor but the mayor can discipline these officials for failure to clean their barangays. In fact the barangay has a share of the garbage fees.

The intelligence fund can finance a system where citizens can report uncollected garbage. This recording will be strikes against the barangay officials for disciplinary action that Duterte plans to insure that local government clean up their areas.*



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