Sunday, July 08, 2007

Will Arnaiz be another trapo in the House?

If news reports are to be believed, it is very disappointing to learn that one of the first advocacies of the neophyte congressman of the second district, our friend George P. Arnaiz is putting off the barangay elections scheduled in October this year.
If the barangay elections are once again postponed, the Filipino people will again be deprived of their sovereign right to choose their leaders in the barangays.
We read in the papers that Rep. Arnaiz wants the barangay elections postponed due to lack of funds.
Worse, he prefers to appoint barangay officials rather than to elect them.
I personally had high hopes in this first time congressman that he would rise above traditional politics (trapo) that pervades in the House of Representatives. I had hoped that George Arnaiz would be different from the many, that he would stand out among a crowd of delegates who have but their own self-interests to protect.
But with his early display of trapo politics, I think I was wrong.
Pareho ra diay ni siya sa uban.
If Rep. Arnaiz thinks that money is the problem, then we challenge him and the other congressmen to shed off even a small fraction of their pork barrel, say P5-M each, in order that we can have enough funds for the barangay elections.
We need to change these overstaying barangay officials because many of them have become abusive. Many more have become non-performing.
Let’s take the case of Dumaguete City.
Many of these punong barangays incurred cash advances and did not liquidate them, until discovered by the COA.
If you read the COA report, some of the cash advances were made in 2005 yet, but were carried on to the next year, still unliquidated.
Worse, even as they had advances to liquidate, the punong barangays still continued to receive their honoraria.
The city accountant was told to stop releasing honoraria for punong barangays who still had unliquidated advances, but this was unheeded.
So tuloy ang ligaya.
By advocating the postponement of barangay elections, Arnaiz is playing and displaying traditional, patronage politics.
He is a former governor, therefore, it is to his personal interest not to change these barangay officials who had been there during his governorship.
Many of these have been his political runners when he was governor.
It is more convenient and less expensive to maintain the status quo, rather than to risk having new bargangay officials, and new political leaders to court.
The move to postpone barangay elections will be a popular advocacy among congressmen because this is to their own political advantage and self interest.
Many are incumbents in the House.
The first timers there are former local government officials like Rep. Arnaiz.
The others are spouses, sons and daughters of “retired” congressmen and therefore have a stranglehold of barangay officials.
Fortunately, we have a bicameral system of Congress.
And this early, there are senators poised to oppose this move by the House.
Among the senators who have already objected to postponing barangay elections this October is Senator Nene Pimentel, author of the local government code.
We remain steadfast in our faith that Ka Nene will purge this immoral design to deprive our people from choosing their barangay leaders.
As to Rep. Arnaiz’ position that he prefers appointed baragnay officials, this is a hallow political stunt because he knows very well that you need a constitutional amendment first before you can have appointed barangay officials.
Besides, assuming that he is successful in having the constitution changed, who will be the appointing authority? The congressmen like himself?
Then who will be our appointed bargangay leaders? The drivers, househelps, the gardeners, the incompetent sip-sips, of these politicos?
Mr. Congressman, please naman.
Show us you are made of better stuff. Show us that you are a cut above the rest. Show us that you are a someone the people can be proud of.
Ayaw na anang trapo.
Life is short.

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