Summing up the issues-4

THERE was a quick reaction to yesterday’s allegory, the “choice between two evils.” A more imaginative mind sent his comment: “Leonardia is Evil(io), Puentevella is (De)Monico while Batapa-Sigue is (Dios)celle”. I think the choice becomes clearer.

An insider who requested anonymity revealed that one of the departments controlled by the Top Gun is the PAAD – Public Affairs and Assistance Department. It is an expert in creating projects that are funded by the millions, approved by Leonardia and his cabal of councilors. There are multi-million projects for the elderly, the veterans, the physically impaired, etc. that had been “completed” but never implemented. Is this the reason that funds for veterans, both police and military, had never reached them?

This must change, Batapa pledged. She will abolish this corruption riddled office that is a source of funds for Leonardia and his Grupo Progreso. Indeed, I have heard of this PAAD and the complaint of army and police veterans that funds had been allocated for them but they never received or knew what happened.

The large margin in the votes between Leonardia and Puentevella in 2016 gave Leonardia the belief that there is no one in Bacolod who could defeat him. Puentevella was the best funded, better organized and a veteran opponent. Because of this mind set, plus a well-funded media group and multi-million contracts, they think they are already secured; they have no more challenger. His well-oiled legal team and connections in the Office of the Ombudsman and the judiciary could no longer touch him. The results are unimaginable in public governance. His lapdog Sanggunian railroads contracts, demands no accounting in the expenditures of invisible multi-million projects, discriminates and coerces barangay officials in the allocation of projects and secrecy in the use of public funds. Has the city budget and audit reports ever been published?

Now there is a challenger, Jocelle Batapa Sigue, who unlike Puentevella, is without a shadow of corruption to her name. In her sorties, she promised that she will remain faithful to the principle and demands of transparency and honesty, fairly allocate city resources, enforce the laws to the improve the physical appearance of the city and through her expertise in the new technologies, bring Bacolod out of the primitive systems that are instruments of corruption.

She also revealed her plan for solving the garbage problem of the city. She visited the city’s dumpsite and talked to the scavengers of her project that will remove them from their humiliating, inhuman condition, aggravated by the presence of tong collectors even in that dump. Corruption has seeped down to the lowest employees because a corrupt superior cannot discipline a corrupt follower.

Traffic, the daily scourge of people and visitors in the city, is the result of failure in governance. Jeepney drivers complain they had nowhere to park because the “city has given the streets to the vendors”’. Why? The retort was expected: there are daily collectors from sidewalk vendors, but not from the drivers.

Thus the sidewalks have become sari-sari stores paying daily tong to, either the representatives of the barangay chiefs or the top men in Leonardia’s cabal. This is the reason the sidewalk vendors, Leonardia’s source of daily funds and votes, are untouchables. The disease merely spreads as the collections widen.

I had complained about this but the reply was curt – they are our supporters. So to clear the sidewalks is to clear out the people running the city. Now is the time to do that.

There is now fear within the Grupo Progreso that the campaign of Batapa-Sigue has gained a lot of traction. There are reports that Leonardia’s operators are now allocating up to P900 per voter, P300 for the operator and (if given) P600 for the voter. Report yesterday says, many operators take them all.

Not all can be bought. Most cannot be bought. This has been proven time and again. However, we should not be deluded because many “good people don’t go out and vote” and leave the election to the corrupt vote sellers.

A corrupt government is sustained by an unconcerned, lazy citizenry, comfortable in their sanctuaries unmindful that their inaction feeds the corruption that will eventually afflict them as now.

Do you want change for the better or more of the same? The decisive groups are the young, the middle class and the professionals.