Quo Vadis Quezon?

Now that the sound and the fury of the May 2004 elections have dissipated, where is Quezon going?It is not going to the dogs as some of us fear, but our fears are certainly real since we are going straight not to the wailing and hungry canines but to a long, cold, and stormy night. The only thing certain is the uncertainty. Our newfound leaders have nothing to offer but fear itself.

This writer has not encountered any blueprint of the next provincial administration, except the much-publicized conversion of the Quezon Memorial Hospital into Quezon Medical Center . The construction cost of this new edifice is placed at P700M! So that for the next three years the sitting governor’s concentration is focused on this task, and therefore expect nothing for the rest of the province. Nope, SOP is not our main concern here, sorry.

We have to give it to the sitting governor for his burning ambition of practically burning the provincial coffers to put up the edifices of his obsession. Who can blame him? He has seen the Parthenon in Rome , the pyramids of Egypt , the Empire State Building of New York, the Petronas of Kuala Lumpur, etc., and they have stood the test of time. He is now setting his eyes on history, and he wants to be remembered as the chief of the greatest mischief in these parts.

Why change Quezon Memorial to Quezon Medical? There is a Q uezon City Medical Center already. Quezon Memorial has acquired a secondary meaning by now. For the last 50 years, it stood as a peculiar historical landmark in the City of Lucena . It is a fitting tribute to the man this province was named after. Now the sitting governor wants a makeover at the expense of the taxpayers. His excuse is expectedly that the conversion of the hospital and naturally, its upgrading is self-liquidating. For the uninitiated, this sounds reasonable as the P700M to be poured into the project stands to be recouped by the treasury. But the question is: for how long?

Remember the P500M Quezon Convention Center touted to be an income-producing facility of the province. Upon meticulous computation of the alleged tariffs on its use, and on the assumption of no let up daily use, it will take 200 years before the province can recover its investment! Think of the value of P500M 200 years from now. Programs like this manifest the genius of the sitting governor.

The next question to be asked is what is in store for the people upon completion of this venture. It has been announced that medical attention in this soon to be renovated or shall we say dismantled in lieu of a new facility is neither free nor cheap.

It will compete with the private hospitals in the province such us the Lucena Medical Center , Mount Carmel Hospital , Andaman Hospital , Calayan Hospital , and hosts of other medium scale clinics. This new medical center could gobble up a sizeable market of these existing hospitals and it is not farfetched that some if not all of them close shop. There goes our skyward unemployment again. What happens now to the investments of entrepreneur-doctors who had the foresight of putting up medical facilities all over the province and started out in the red? Now that they have gradually established and poised to make a little return from their capital, here comes a thunder from nowhere- a government hospital out to get their patients. These private hospitals acquired medical equipments in millions of pesos that to date are not yet fully paid. They provided employment to hundreds of hospital workers this province failed to give. Now the prospect of closing stares them at their faces.

We have no quarrel in the upgrading of the facilities of QMH. We can make do of its current physical make up. Its personnel know that the hospital needs supplies and medicines. True, the X-ray machines have to be replaced. It has to have CAT scan, an MRI, and other state of the art equipment. But most important are trained doctors who will man these accoutrements.

Several years ago, an American Lions Club donated several pieces of dialysis machines to the province. Some of these gadgets need repairs, as they were not operational. The province spent P500, 000.00 to put them in function. But what do you know? Quezon, a very poor province donated several of these apparatus to the City of Makati , the richest LGU in the Philippines . What happened now to the rest of the dialysis machines? They are now consigned to the bodegas of QMH rotting and waiting to be sold as junk.

There was even an announcement made in Tayabas about the creation of a foundation to be headed by a former provincial administrator who early on however got the boot for sexual harassment, to take care of the operations of these dialysis machines. Self-liquidating, ika. Where are the proceeds collected from these machines? No accounting was made whatsoever. Not surprising though, since this is the trademark of this administration.

For the next three years, Quezon Province will not get the attention of the national government. Early on, the President has announced that its fair-haired provinces are Cebu , Negros , Ilo-Ilo, Bohol , and the larger parts of Mindanao . The President is merely on the payback mode. The Visayans are upbeat that the mind of the national government is focused at them at last. This is as it should be since these territories tremendously helped the president in her re-election. Unlike Quezon Province that went opposition notwithstanding the various projects poured in by the President, which remained unaccounted for by the sitting governor. The latter openly supported FPJ because apparently the President was asking him to submit some form of reports with regard to the several impact projects made by the President in this province. The sitting governor resented the imposition. His flies on his back upon learning the results of the 2004 elections crowed, “Our boss is the last man standing!” Who does the president think she is by asking the King of Quezon some kind of accomplishment reports? As in the nature of kings, he has only his conscience and his gods to be accountable for.

And there goes the fate of the province. While the president has announced her pet provinces, Quezon is nowhere in her map.

Translating this into development projects, the ports stop at Quezon’s boundaries. The rest of Calabarzon profits from the loyalties shown by its governors. The sitting governor is the only odd man out for having supported FPJ out and out. Whereas Ayong Maliksi was behind Ping Lacson, the president understood Ayong’s position as they are comprovincianos and GMA appreciates loyalty and word of honour of the Cavitenos. Besides, Lacson has already conceded. On the other hand, FPJ remains stubborn to the delight of the sitting governor. He has an excuse on avoiding the president but the situation hurts the province. Naturally, this state of affairs does not mean anything to the sick man as he has the IRA, Jun Magsaysay’s pork, and his share from Quezon Power Plant’s real property taxes.

After six years of paying Philippine National Bank the P65M Tumbaga Batching Plant, the governor has set his sight on pledging the future of the province by setting in motion his so-called technocrats by fleshing out a bond floatation or bank borrowing to backstop his second tombstone: the Quezon Medical Centre. Easily, the province incurs close to a billion pesos to realize this ambitious plan. By cornering the last centavos from the treasury, the 1,252 barangays are on the losing end.

A couple of days after his proclamation, the wheel chair bound governor flew to the United States . One week before his inauguration, he flew back home. After taking his oath of office for the next three years, he flew back again to some place the people of Quezon are no longer interested in knowing.

The sitting governor sits still while our people have forgotten that they have elected one in the first place.

(note: willie enverga was the sitting governor when this piece was written)

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