[Opinion] Enemy of transformation

The individuals and organizations who are critical of the current administrations’ priorities are now branded by President Noynoy Aquino as enemies of transformation. On the other hand, supporters of the Aquino administration who heavily believes on the effectiveness of his interventions from the highest level of the government down to the local government units, has labeled the carriers of dissenting voices as “hecklers”.

Heckler comes from the word “heckle” which is defined by Mirriam Webster’s Dictionary as “to interrupt by shouting annoying or rude comments or questions.” A heckler is nothing more than a critic that openly express criticism or disapproval in public or through a medium like the social media. For people positioned at the opposing ends, one can be a heckler to each other for hurling criticisms against each other’s camps.

In Iloilo City, individuals who are expressing dissenting voice against the Drilon-Trenas-Mabilog administration are considered anti’s: unappreciative of government official’s hard work, unworthy of the benefits of its effort, unproductive as individuals, and anti-development or anti-progress, in general.

This is a standard chorus line of the choir members of the “Matuwid na Daan” in its attempt to discredit the legitimate issues being raised against the leader of the yellow movement. Calling the critics hecklers and an enemy of transformation is over-simplifying the political debate.

The local officials are of course in tune with what the President Noynoy Aquino wanted to portray – they are on the side of righteousness and critics or hecklers are the unrighteous. This is usually illustrated by pointing out the progress as a consequence of the “Matuwid na Daan” like the unprecedented repair of roads in almost all the corners of Iloilo City. Nevermind, that citizens and motorists are paralyzed into traveling from one place to another because almost all major sections of the busy streets were pulverized for more than a year already while repair works are merely starting.

The outpour of infrastructure projects and private investments are also what we have repeatedly heard from the government side as accomplishments. As if all of these developments has materialized as a result of the city governments’ excellent governance practices. This is rather a misplaced claim for not all of the investments that are unfolding are government-led. It has been private sector-led taking into account all the risks from LGU’s poor governance practices from the time of Mayor Jerry Trenas down to the Mabilog administration.

This is the also among the reasons why Iloilo City continue to confront a water supply crisis four years into the Mabilog administration. Now, the City Government expressed concern on the mismanagement of the water district by proposing that the water district turn-over the operations to the city government. This is as if the Mabilog administration possess the competency to manage a water district.

The issues of historical mismanagement at the water district can bring us to the question why only now that the Mabilog administration insisted on taking over or turning over of management? The court has already determined who has the authority over the water district and it is not the chief executive of Iloilo City but the governor of the Province.

Acceptably, the local government unit has a role to play over issues of utilities governance but how come that the Mabilog administration only selected the water district and does not exercise the same authority over inefficiencies and exorbitant rates of power services from Panay Electric Co? The case at hand puts consistency wanting.

If the Aquino administration is taking a righteous path and if this claim resonates to the LGU level, then why don’t the local government unit open the issue of local pork barrel and who among ally city councilors are benefitting from it and how much? This is a case of selected accountability and poor planning in utilizing government funds. The issue of a Real Property Tax increase measure on the eve of a deadline for LGU to institute adjustment for revenue collection demonstrates the latter.

This righteous government demands that we all appreciate its effort. To start with, we do appreciate it but from the perspective that resources that they are utilizing to make all these development effort possible comes from taxpayers’ money. We appreciate it but with expression of protest and disappointment because there are other priorities that are being compromised.

I must admit that the time for progress is now. The development of Iloilo City has been long delayed but a large part of the delay is a product of Jerry Trenas’ nine years of yawning administration. The Mabilog administration, on the other hand, seemed aggressive. But the real evidence behind its aggressiveness points out that his is a case of good timing in the calendar and not an exceptional result from a brilliant leadership prowess of a chief executive.

The development boom concentrated at the Diversion Road is intended to please the eyes of visiting dignitaries to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting. We, the citizens, comes in a far distant second. The Ilonggos who are constant agents of economic development has to wait, rather unfairly, for APEC conference to come and visit Iloilo in order for the Ilonggos to have a firsthand encounter with development boom.

The righteous has the command over the calendar of development, while, we, the victims of delayed development, are nothing more than enemies of transformation. This is “Matuwid na Daan”. It seems to me na walang naituwid.

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