NEXT TO DRUGS, the next pet peeve that gets the goat of President Rodrigo Duterte is the issue of corruption. Even his closest friends, to cite just one Vitaliano Aguirre of the Justice Department, were axed for actual and even perceived whiff of graft in their offices.
The anti-Graft stance resonates with many folks because this steals away money away from socio-economic projects for the benefit of the people into the deep pockets of government officials and their conniving private sector collaborators.
To some people, this endears the president to them more than even the contentious issue of the violent Drug War.
It is incumbent, then, upon the incoming local officials starting July 1, to make this anti-graft stance not just as a “silent policy” but to plaster it upon stone as a matter of public policy. Not doing so, can be seen as being against it, or at best not endorsing it as a matter of official standard.
To prove this, one of the first Executive Orders signed precisely by the president upon assuming office on July 23, 2016 was EO No. 2 otherwise known as the “Freedom of Information” Program (FOI).
This allows any Filipino citizen, through a written request, to have access to all government official and public records, papers related to official acts, transactions or decisions and even government research data used as the basis for policy statements. Except for the printing cost (Xerox), this must be given free to all requesting citizens.
Offices are given 15 to 20 days to respond to the citizen query. Refusal to do so should prod the citizen to file a complaint with the (FOI Project Office In Charge) Office of the Executive Secretary Salvador Meldedea.
Covered under this order are all national government offices (under the Executive Department) and departments, government-owned and operated corporation, state colleges and universities and ALL LGUS.
As a matter of fact, 120 days after July 23, 2016, all such LGU offices were mandated by the Palace to finish their own version of the local FOI Ordinances. Those LGUs who do not have these- are already in violation of such presidential order.
President Digong even mentioned that even when an application for local permits is sent back to the proponent more than three times, the president will receive such complaints at his own Office. To him- they are telltale signs of seeking grease money.
So, folks, rather than rant and rage over social media and the radio airwaves about unsubstantiated allegations of graft, we enjoin citizens to take this route to secure information and then file appropriate charges against grafters.
Such an act can prove to all and sundry that the fight against graft is not just an act of political vendetta or smear people’s names but to protect the money of the people and in some cases, private investors.
Worth mentioning is the case of the Triple AAA company like McDonalds Philippines in Panglao whose branch was allowed to open only to be closed down again due to alleged violations of building and other codes. People hint at harassment and shakedown, although this has not been substantiated.
But what cannot be denied is that once local business permits are issued, it is always assumed that the business can operate under a presumption of regularity. Pulling the plug while the horses are in midstream (pardon the mix of metaphors) smacks of oppression and may drive other investors away.
In the sense that there is an actual UNEASE of doing business in such locality. What is the real issue behind the Panglao McDonald franchise “open and close, Sesame”?
People should empower themselves and use the forces of law and the pressure of decency to tell the evil-doer of corruption in our midst – that “it cannot be business as usual, Senors”. We are watching your back.
Once documented as reeking with publicly disadvantageous features, we enjoin the churches, the academe, the Civil Society organizations, and mainstream Media to help these GraftBusters and support in ventilating and bringing these circumstances to their honorable conclusion under the rule of law and with justice for all. And let the wrongdoers do Jail Time.
DEVELOPING BOHOL’S FILM INDUSTRY
THE 2019 JULY SANDUGO Festival will be unique in that- aside from the traditional Miss Bohol and colorful street dancing merriment- for the first time, there will be a Filmfest – a one day celebration on July 17.
All LGUs are qualified to submit a 20-minute film production-provided that all the scriptwriting, storytelling, production, directing and musical scoring will be done by residents of that specific LGU. Actors may be hired for such films to give it some commercial value.
This laudable move is under the auspices of the Bohol Provincial Government, the Center for Culture and Art Development (CCAD) and the Isang Dugo Foundation.
To be able to do this, a Manila-based movie outfit called Golden Tiger Films will conduct seminars on film-making for all participating LGUs from June 25-28. Only those LGUs given a certification of completion by the Golden Tiger Films will be accredited to participate.
Verily, this activity can spur all the creative juices of many talented Boholano artists and crew and can be the forerunner of the development of a professional Bohol Film Industry.
The multi-billion megabucks that have been produced out of Hollywood, Bollywood (India) and the Korean film and TV industry are enough beckonings for us to try to create an employment-generating, income- fostering industry and create one more thriving business in our province. Let’s go for it, LGUs.