By Alex P. Vidal
“Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”—Charles de Gaulle
ILOILO Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. has exhorted his constituents to elect only competent, smart and responsible leaders during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 30, 2023.
All barangay leaders are actually “worthy”— until they are swallowed by the prevailing system that has historically and constantly plagued the body politic: graft and corruption and rapaciousness.
It’s the system that transforms or destroys the decent and dignified barangay officials.
Even if we elect a priest, a nun, or a deacon from any house of worship, there is no guarantee he or she won’t engage in monkey business if the opportunity presents itself.
Of course, not all elected barangay leaders are corrupt or susceptible to commit gross dishonesty while in office, where they have instant and easy access to the cookie jars.
Many are still good role models and paragons of rectitude and integrity.
But ever since devolution was implemented as mandated by the local government code, or the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to govern at a subnational level, such as a regional or local level, the temptations to amass unexplained wealth were egregious and enormous.
In some cases, an elected position in the barangay level has become a “gold mine” or a “treasure island” for barangay officials with ulterior motives.
The administrative decentralization has made many barangay officials with weak moral compass instant millionaires.
Greedy and materialistic barangay officials use their power and influence to enrich themselves and their relatives, to some extent.
No matter how we strictly scrutinize the candidates for barangay elections, there are still thugs, ruffians and scoundrels who get elected every now and then.
In the same manner that we regularly elect the Philippine versions of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and Popeye in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
There are drug traffickers or protectors of drug traffickers who look and act like Gandhi and Pope Francis and ignorant voters look up to them higher than the demigods before and during the elections.
Once they joined the electoral system and get elected, these false prophets and charlatans become the headaches of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and no longer by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that approved their certificates of candidacy (COC).
The problems on unworthy and good-for-nothing barangay officials have exacerbated from malversation of public funds to illegal drug trafficking.
Four months from now, there is no assurance we can totally weed out from public service these pernicious characters in the barangay election 2023.
What we need are at least constant reminders from Governor Defensor and other high-ranking government officials who truly care for the country.
More foreign-born immigrants live in New York City. Over 37 percent of New York City residents were born in another country, according to a new report, the highest percentage in over 100 years.
A record high 3.07 million foreign-born immigrants live in New York City, more than any other city in the world.
For perspective: There are more foreign-born New Yorkers than there are people living in America’s third-largest city, Chicago, or roughly the same as the populations of Philadelphia and Phoenix combined.
And unlike at the beginning of the twentieth century, when New York City’s immigrant population was primarily European, the city’s foreign-born are now from all over the world.
“In just 30 years, what was a city with a population of primarily European origins has now become a place with no dominant race/ethnic or nationality group,” reads the Department of City Planning report, “The Newest New Yorkers,” which uses data from an American Community Survey conducted between 2007 and 2011. “Indeed, New York’s unmatched diversity epitomizes the world city.”
The city’s largest foreign-born group hails from the Dominican Republic, but maybe not for long.
The foreign-born Chinese population in New York City has grown 34 percent in the last 11 years. The Chinese population in New York City is the largest outside of China itself, according to WNYC.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)