Skewed Priorities

There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed (Frank Buchman (1878-1961), U.S. evangelist. Remaking the World (1947).

In the January 10, 2005 issue of the Philippine Star, it reported:

(Mayor Hernando Avellaneda) estimated that Gen. Nakar suffered some P100 million in agricultural losses and about P200 million in damage to infrastructure.

Avellaneda said they need some P300 million for the municipality to fully recover. The amount will be used for the rehabilitation of agricultural areas, damaged roads, bridges, schools and other vital public buildings, communal irrigation systems, water supply and electrical systems.

Blaming logging for the catastrophe, Avellaneda said he and other local officials are ready to impose a total logging ban in their town.

“If the national government goes for selective logging, we will implement a total logging ban in our town. We will (drive away) those whom we suspect are engaged in logging in our area,” he said (Emphasis ours).

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved unanimously right after the elections, the pet project of the ailing governor of modernizing the Quezon Memorial Hospital at a staggering cost of P700M.

As to the source of the funding, the Sangguning Panlalawigan is not clear or forthcoming about it. Whether the money shall be sourced from the 20% development fund of the exiting governor or from borrowing or from panhandling from his favourite senators is not clear from the reports or requests of appropriation from the leveraging provincial council.

There is no doubt that majority of the members of the Sanggunian is in the payroll of the provincial executive not to mention the monthly payola from jueteng which is parlayed by the elected pointmen of the governor in exchange for the precious vote of support for the Quezon Medical Centre bill.

The first phase of the QMC apparently has been bid out already and it was clinched by no other than the favourite contractor of the wheel-chair bound Osama. Dodging the complication of the Plunder Act, the first phase was fixed at P49.98M.

Remember that the soon to be disabled executive has reached the mandatory maximum term. He does not want any legal imbroglio in his retirement. This is his dilemma apparently. His moneybag now foists for a provincial elective position in anticipation of shielding his boss from legal snags once he finished his term in 2007. His posturing is creating some headache to his boss because the latter wants to field a member of his immediate family as an assurance of litigation-free retirement. He is particularly envious of Danny Suarez and Bobby Tanada whose own sons are now Vice Governor and    congressman respectively.

Truth to tell, the sitting official knew that he has left various messy transactions now being taken care of by his minions in the Provincial Auditor’s Office. While the PAO has initially made some disallowances, they turned out to be mere ploys for a bigger share of their share. Some employees of the Auditor’s Office however are very unhappy with the situation and they have collated smoking guns for future reckonings. The sitting official is precisely avoiding a litigation-wracked departure; hence, he is preparing the way for a protégé.  But as to who his successor is remains a tough nut to crack. He has two more years to figure this out.

His moneybag has expressed his intention that he has his ambitions too. Either his Boss gives him the unconditional support of raiding what remains to be the provincial coffer in preparation for the hoopla in 2007. With Raffy Nantes in the horizon, the sick man’s group is deeply worried. They have been sending conciliatory moves to Nantes in hopes of alliances in case the sick man runs again in his district. That is the reason why Mr. Pocket is eying the second provincial post.

The sitting governor is now in a frenzy of fund raising for 2007. But the recent calamities in Real, Infanta, and General Nakar gave him some sleepless nights. The mud and the scene of misery repelled him. He was reported to have ordered the rerouting of a chopper back to Lucena upon seeing the muddy field in Infanta where it was about to land.

If the estimation of Mayor Avellaneda is correct, the provincial government is duty bound to assist his town in the sourcing of the P300M. In the same manner, if General Nakar needs P300M, the town of Infanta, a much bigger LGU needs about the same amount, and Real probably requires P200M. All in all these devastated municipalities must be given prompt financial succour in the amount of P800M to P1B. Since the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has already allotted the amount of P700M to the ambitious QMC within the league of the Quezon Convention Center, common sense and genuine public service tell us that these funds are reallocated to the typhoon-ravaged towns. But the issue is: where to get the scarce fund already allotted for 2007 eventualities.

While 20% SOP from P700M shall make one’s retirement comfortable, the amount is enough to save General Nakar from certain despondency. The members of the SP should now think more of the welfare of the 200,000 inhabitants of the area in northern Quezon than the lines of their pockets from the favourite contractors of the sick man. Let us have enough of the posturing for bigger share. Let us think of the welfare of those who have lost their lives, their livelihood, the roofs over their heads, and their will to survive in northern Quezon. The members of the SP must pass pronto a resolution abandoning the QMC program. In lieu of the QMC proposal, the SP should pass instead a Provincial Rehabilitation Program (PRP) of REINA. The PRP, with the help of the congressmen, should be pushed to its logical conclusion.

The tsunami spared us. But in Quezon, there is a bigger tsunami of greed about to consume us.

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