CORRUPTION and other forms of abuse of power by those elected government officials and their lackeys are not only prevalent in the higher offices of government. They are also very much replicated in the lowest unit thereof.
Yes, we mean officials of the barangays are also very much into those shenanigans promised to be eliminated by aspiring politicians every election season. And when these people succeed in their aspirations and become elected to the office they are aspiring for almost all of them are swallowed by the long prevailing problems in government – graft and corruption, and abuse of authority or power attendant to the office they are holding.
Who is to blame for this; for the infection of offices or agencies from the top down to the smallest unit of government – the barangay? Who else but those who are on top who by their desire to be perpetuated in office do everything within their power to ensure that they can reach out to the barangay level and make the people be aware of their existence. And one of the strategies of the politicians up there is to come up with projects that are supposed to enhance the lives of people in the barangays and make sure that during times of calamities and other emergencies the barangays are equipped with tools needed to respond for such situation. One such project is the provision of the barangays with vehicles supposedly for use in responding to the people’s need during emergency situations like evacuation of residents likely to be affected by flash floods, earthquakes, landslides and even by epidemics.
Thus, it is already not common for people to see in the barangays vehicles with markings like “Emergency Response Unit” of this and that barangay; “Ambulance,” etc., etc. There is no doubt that if these vehicles are actually used for the purpose with which these are intended, the project is one noble thing to have been crafted ever.
Unfortunately, the issuance of such vehicles has also led many officials in the barangays to find opportunity to execute their own brand of shenanigans in government. In so many instances that the vehicles are being used not for official purpose but for the personal activities of barangay officials not only limited to barangay captains but to other officials as well. That is why it is not anymore uncommon to see such kind of government vehicles being used for picnics of the family of this and that barangay executive even travelling outside of their area of jurisdiction and even in other regions. The result, we learned, is that there were several instances of patients requiring transport to hospitals ending up hiring tricycle just to get emergency interventions. And sadly, it turns out the emergency response vehicle or the barangay ambulance is out because it is being used for personal travel by certain officials. And what could be worst is that the fuel used for these personal travels could have been subsidized by government funds.
In the process, it is our take that the opportunity to abuse utilization of government vehicles at the barangay level is tacitly given by those politicians who pride to claim they are responsible for the issuance of such property.
But of course we are not saying that those barangay executives who are abusing are not without responsibility. For certain the issuance of such government property is not without specific guidelines for its use. The only problem is how tenacious can the barangay head be in having the policies or guidelines in the use of the vehicle followed to the letter, especially so if the top village official is also doing what is or are being prohibited. And as we said this anomalous practice is already systemic to the point that stopping it totally is already impossible.
We can only hope that this revolting abuse can eventually be minimized to a level that is tolerable by the people. But how far can we expect when this is being done by those who are supposed to set the example?
Hope, of course, springs eternal.
As some kind of “sequel” to an item we wrote earlier in this column, we are tackling again in this space the chances of the four newcomers in the election for councilors to represent the constituents of the Davao City’s Third District. Why are we saying that the political battle will only be critical to the four new aspirants? It is because local political observers are definite in their assumption that the six who are running for reelection are shoo-ins. And that leaves the two remaining slots to be the hot objective of the newbies — all of them claiming to have the blessing of the city’s political gods.
And who are the most likely to have the edge over their rivals? We can probably say that the four all have the advantage of getting the Mayor’s Party, and the President’s own group Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod’s endorsements. But we still feel that it is not the “be-all” to assure getting into the Magic 8 in the 8-member district representation in the Davao City Council. Their names, their personal performance as public officials, or the performance of their kin while in office could also be a factor to reckon with.
Yes, as to the cousins Villafuerte, their mothers were or even still public servants. That of Enzo’s is a last termer councilor. That of his cousin whose name escapes us at the time of this writing, is a retired City Health Officer and still is heading the City’s CoViD Vaccination task force.
On the other hand candidate Bebot Clarion once served as Barangay Captain in one of the barangays of Toril district until he was appointed councilor to fill the vacated slot of then city dad Dr. Bernie Al-ag who assumed by force of law as Acting Vice Mayor of the city when then Vice Mayor Polong quit his post. For the one year that he served the position we did not hear of any adverse issue against him, and he was relatively doing well as local lawmaker.
Then we have the last but not the least, the mother of outgoing councilor Petite Principe. She may not be articulate and oozing with charm in her presence or interactions with people, but aside from being a long-time nurse she had also worked with the Office of then Councilor Kaloy Bello and later with her daughter Petite.
So, it would now be a game of name association and performance recall that would help the aspirants take their targeted inclusion in the Magic 8 of the third district’s council representation. Fair game, isn’t it?
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