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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, December 4, 2017
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Like a phoenix-9


One must be mystified by politicians like Bacolod Councilor Cesar Distrito who trumpeted the “success” of the anti-smoking campaign and cited the importance of putting a lid on this habit (smoking, that is). The rationale is that the smoker does not only afflict himself but others, with the sickening tobacco smoke. He heads this campaign and, from the way he declared his success, he has saved many people from living this life in agony.

But this a pittance while he and the city's officialdom have remained silent at the dying of the inner city, the slums, the rotting garbage, the dragging traffic that cause more harm to the human body by the unseen fumes from poisonous methane. They adversely affect health more than those who smoke or inhale tobacco. The garbage in rivers and streams have already killed aquatic life except the germs and amoeba that sustain the deadly mosquitoes. Decaying trash, more than tobacco, poisons the air.

Maybe acting on these grime is not politically dramatic or beneficial and even suicidal if they enforced the law.

Why is the city council silent on these blight of the city? Contrarily, there was much activity in relation to the contracts involving garbage - collection, dump sites and sanitary land fill and waste management. The cracks and issues on these subjects are phoenix-like constantly reminding us that garbage does not only stink but also a money making machine in more sense than one.

Several Bacolod councilors were suspended by the Ombudsman for approving a barangay resolution to hold a cock fight, supposedly for its fiesta but the date they approved was far from the fiesta date. One councilor defended their approval with a lame (to use a mild term) defense that they presumed the barangay resolution was conducted “with regularity and according to law”. Moreover, they relied on “the information from the barangay itself which is expected to know the date of their fiesta.”

Simply put, they did not check the veracity of the information but just swallowed what was served by the barangay nor studied the implication of their decision.

The reason that the law requires the SP to review and approve the resolutions and ordinances of the barangay is that barangay councils cannot be trusted completely to make the right, regular and legal decision. Otherwise, why review it?

Similarly, the SangguniangPanlalawigan reviews the resolutions and ordinances of its component cities and municipalities and higher courts check lower courts in case of lapses. Not everything is regular, thus the need for review.

Mayor EvelioLeonardia understandably tried to comfort his councilors and reassure his constituencies by saying that the suspension is a “hazard” of the job. True, but this hazard is a result of sloppy legislative work that could have been avoided if they exerted the necessary effort in the work they asked (some paid) the voters to entrust to them and were thus mandated to use diligently. Clearly the Ombudsman is right - they were negligent.

This is a simple matter (thus the penalty is for simple negligence) but in the case of contracts related to garbage, how diligent was the Bacolod council? Did it also believe that everything was “regular” because the departments and committees supposedly studied and passed the multi-million pesos contracts and the mayor urged the councilors to approve them? Was the evaluation meticulous or perfunctory? This was the P260K question that miffed the sensibilities of Distrito as to demand why I wrote about it.

That was an unnecessary reaction but I was glad he reacted that way because it was revealing as well as confirming - ang may pilas

The conscientiousness or lack of it in the SP deliberation on the IPM garbage contracts can be easily determined, but that is not the point in this column, at least momentarily. The minutes of the hearings and discussions are public documents that to researchers are treasure troves of information. The facts can easily be dug up when necessary.

The resolution of Barangay Tangub where the SP assumed “regularity” and therefore there was no need for study and discussion, differs significantly with the situation of the IPM contracts not only as to subject but more so because of the amount of city funds involved.

Let's resume tomorrow; the phoenix left its trail.*



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