Oust extortionate local executives

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc

Why is there no fiber optic connection in your barangay yet the adjacent one has long had it? That’s likely because the servicer still is haggling down the P500,000 “entrance fee” your chairman is demanding. How come your town council is welcoming that mineral water bottler with no public hearing on the mountain spring it will tap? Well, it bribed your councilors P10 million for the exclusivity. What’s that highway being concreted into the beach resort of your provincial governor? It’s the one for which his congressman-son worked on the public works office to finance with taxpayers money.

For anything to come into the community, your local government exec will have a greased hand in it. It matters not to them if a new project can bring livelihoods or the resource exploitation can breed disease, and that public funds should be for all. They got themselves appointed or elected precisely to profit from public office.

Officials’ greed results in joblessness and dependency. People are fooled to rely on doles instead of innate grit. Political dynasts amass illegal wealth for perpetuation in local power.

At last local officials would be at least shaken. President Rody Duterte has ordered a crackdown on those sitting on applications for business permits. He had come home last weekend from the APEC Summit on inclusive growth. In one forum he had learned that micro, small, and medium enterprises can’t get off the ground because of bureaucratic red tape in local government units. Retired Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año is to kick ass as new Undersecretary of Interior.

Merely delaying issuance of local permits is a means of extortion. More so if the applicant had had to absent from work and take long tricycle and jitney rides to the municipio or capitolio for it. Being told to come back for the permit instead of instant issuance, or at least awaiting the e-mail, is the signal to pull out the wallet.

Año would do well to tap the Hotline 8888 that Duterte launched last year for public inquiries and complaints. People get to call or text for free, to air grievances.

Año might also wish to practice on the Pasay City officials. They are blocking the efforts of national agencies to ease traffic and improve public transportation. Councilmen of barangays encompassing EDSA, Metro Manila’s main artery, abet sidewalk stalls that force pedestrians onto the vehicle ways. Two days after every Metro Manila Development Authority demolition, the stalls are back with the help of the barangay defiers.

City hall also is delaying the emergency rehab of the dilapidated MRT-3. The commuter railway needs a small space at the Pasay end station temporarily to park a dozen of the inoperative trains from China. That’s to free the tracks at the other end station in Quezon City for repair tests. Pasay is sitting on the transport officials’ request unless they promise first to elevate that ground level end station. That multibillion- peso work is beyond the transport men’s authority to decide, for only Congress may appropriate public works money.

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If authorities must cancel the driving license of the show biz celeb who broke last ASEAN Summit weekend’s traffic rerouting, then they also must censure the deputies who left traffic snarled for hours.

The actress posted on FB how she moved some of the plastic road barriers on EDSA to scoot into the exclusive ASEAN diplomats’ lane. That violation imperiled herself and others on her path. But where were the cops and Metro Manila traffic aides? Why do they disappear on weekends and leave commuters stuck in traffic from dawn to dusk in the north, south, east, and west? Why can’t the National Telecoms Commission send text blasts on gridlocked or flooded areas? Why can’t the Metro Manila Development Authority announce the same through AM and FM radio and its website.

The government collects taxes even on weekends, and so must make agency personnel take turns for weekend duty. Unless, of course, the government suspends tax collections on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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