Clearing the obstructions

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

After the 60-day period when local governments were supposed to clear the streets of all sorts of obstructions, the campaign had stopped. September 30 was the deadline for local governments to comply with the directive. Then the Department of the Interior and Local Government would check for compliance.

How compliant were the local governments, the barangays particularly? Bacolod is reported to have complied at 87%, just enough to be medium compliant. Someone at the Bacolod City Government Center told me that Bacolod has 50% or less compliance, but then the DILG said it is higher. How the DILG arrived at the conclusion is not revealed, but people see that indeed many places have not complied with the clearing.

Under the DILG criteria LGUs that obtained a rating of 70% and below in road clearance will be considered as non-compliant while those that obtained 71% to 80% are considered low compliant. LGUs with 81% to 90% clearance are medium compliant, and those with 91% to 100% are high compliant.

The deadline for compliance was September 30 and within a week or so, the DILG had already come up with the results of its inspection. How did they do it?

We are not aware of the criteria or bases for the ratings. As we know from reports, the DILG merely collected the reports from the LGUs which are of course, self-serving. It appears that the barangays submitted the number of obstructions in their area that they had sent notices of violations. Then they “removed” some of these illegal structures, took the percentage of those removed and submitted them.

The city then collated the reports and came out with its own. This was submitted to the DILG. How did the DILG validate all the reports within a few days? Bacolod has 61 barangays. How many barangays did the DILG visit and how many personnel for each barangay?

The regional office of the DILG made a report on Bacolod’s compliance after validation on October 2 and 3 and then reported to Mayor Evelio Leonardia on October 4 that the city had 87% compliance.

Were two days enough to validate the report of all the 61 barangays? Of course, if the validation is on the top of a table and only by accepting every word and number that was presented to the DILG. On its part the city probably also accepted the report of the barangays verbatim without validating their self-serving reports.

And so, we have a case of validation by the blind accepting the visual report of the blind. Then they sent their reports to the national office where more blind men accepted the report of the visually impaired and reported the matter to the President triumphantly declaring the order was complied with only a few non-compliant LGUs. They will be made to show cause for non-compliance. The rest, voila! They deserve congratulations for jobs well done. And since the project was a success, what’s next? Soon DILG and the LGUs forget the noncompliant and though a few will get suspended, that’s just for the icing.

In Bacolod, what happened to the 13% that was reported to have not fully complied? Heard about any action against them? A month had passed, and we hear the loudest silence. Surely Leonardia would be loathed to get his followers suspended and the DILG also do not want to be left out of the goodwill and generosity of the city.

But we who go around and see things with clear eyes, know that the city government and DILG are not telling the truth. Truth here means the full truth because a half-truth is a conscious lie.

The DILG must reveal its criteria because people also know how to read and when the government speaks of “illegal obstructions” they know what they are. A car parked on a sidewalk is an obstruction, but has the DILG seen hundreds of cars and vans parking on the sidewalk of Bacolod and forcing people to walk on the streets?

Perhaps the DILG know of illegal obstructions only as those sidewalk vendors, sheds in sidewalks and streets and houses and buildings on the streets.

The sidewalk vendors are now wiser. They have come back as did the sidewalk cafes and drinking tables. Some have taken over the parking lots. When is the next clearing operation?