Saturday, November 29, 2008

The cityhood bottomline

The bottomline in the bid for cityhood by many municipalities is money.
If a municipality succeeds in converting itself into a city, its share in the pie for Internal Revenue Allotment shots up to the sky.
It is a financial bonanza for the local government unit.
The Supreme Court Decision last November 18, 2008 that ushered a stinging debacle to Guihulngan, in its futile bid to become a city, is not yet final and executory.
I don't even know if the the Guihulngan local government has already received its own copy of the decison.
The fifteen-day period to appeal (reconsdieration) starts to count upon receipt of the decision by Guihulngan being one of the respondents.
So up to now, Guihulngan can still regard itself as a city, and it can continue to receive its share in Internal Revenue Allotments as a city.
What Guihulngan, and perhaps the rest of the defeated municipalities, properly need to do is to appeal through a motion for reconsideration with the high court.
It is not a unanimous decision, but a divided one, mind you.
I couldn't feel the passion in the hearts of these municipalities in seeking to be converted a city, until I was given a computation by our technical people on local governments from the office of Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., like Director Eliuterio Domugho, and staff member Katrina Infante.
Let's take the example of Guihulngan.
This year alone (2008), if Guihulngan maintains itself as a city, its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) would shoot up to P287,133,055.45.
But if it reverted back to a municipality, Guihulngan's IRA for 2008 would be just P97,362,841.98.
In the year 2009 Guihulngan's IRA as a city would have amounted to P341,526,420.06
But if it is reverted to a municipality, Guihulngan's computed ITR for 2009 would only be P115,434,707.97.
If a town is converted into a city, its IRA share jumps to almost three times bigger in IRA share than when it was still a town.
This is the sole reason why there is that so-called "mad rush" to cityhood.
The existing cities, naturally won't like this as their share in the IRA woule be reduced to accomodate the new cities.
For the cities, they don't like more members bcause many will be sharing their pie.
The problem does not end with the Supreme Court decision.
What happens now to the city offices created by these "converted-reverted" LGUs?
Guihulngan, I suppose has created its city division schools with staff, even local court personnel.
What do we do with these newly created offices now with the reversion of Guihulngan into a municipality?
What happens to the newly hired employees? Terminate them?
Impliedly, the decision declared the cityhood void and unconstitutional.
So these newly created offices reserved only for cities should be obliterated?
What's your opinion?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Manila Penn siege--- one year ago

It was one year ago today that Senator Antonio Trillanes led the siege of the Manila Penninsula at hte heart of Makati City.
It began with Trillanes walking out of his hearing at the Makati court of Judge Oscar Pimentel at at the 33rd floor.
He was supposedlly fetched by armed sympathizers, who were able to bring their guns to the courts despite tight security.
Co-incidentally I was at the Makati court at that time for a hearing.
With my cellphone camera, I was able to take video shots of as the drama unravelled.
Little did I know that while I was recording, Trillanes was already at the elevator going down.
If you notice the video there was shouting from where the elevagtors were located.
I was standing in front of the court of Judge Pimentel.
Below is that video.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I have a strong feeling I'ved been duped by a car repair shop.
About two weeks ago, or November 13, 2008 to be precise, I had the break pads of my vehicle replaced, by a near-by car repair shop.
It was sort of urgent as it involved car breaks so I decided to immediately have it repair at a nearby car re pair shop.
I have permanent car-maintenance shop in Evangelista owned by my friend.
The changing of the break pads total cost amounted to P4,025.
When I made a test drive, I noticed an unaffiliated sound in the front.
I notified the owner-manager of the car repair shop who told me to bring back the vehicle.
Two days after the repair, on NOvember 15, 2008, I left it in the car shop as I had other professional engagements that day.
I called the car repair manager for an update, and he told me that the sound did not emanate from the break, or did not arise from the repairs in the vehicle break facilities.
When I went to the car repair shop I was handed a "job estimate" to repair the alien sound in the front of the vehicle.
The job estimate cost P4,870.
I did not proceed with the job repair.
I did not use the vehicle until seven days after.
I used the vehicle on the sevenths, eighth and eleventh day or on November 26, 2008.
On the seventh day from the last check up with the car repair shop, I already noticed the vehicle to be "dancing" while driven.
On November 26, 2008 I discovered the front right tire was abruptly shaven on the outer portion.
It displayed the symptoms of a disaligned vehicle.
I have strong suspicions of foul play.
I immeidately called up my friend from my "in-house" car repair shop.
My friend share the same suspicions.
They are going to undertake an inspection and compare it with the items in the "job estimate".
They said they can determine whether something was done to the vehicle.
My permanent car repair shop also said they have a record of the previous maintenance of my vehicle.
This should merit a legal action.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gigi drops by

California-based Silliman high school classmate Giselle Gigi Gonzales dropped by Manila recently enroute to L.A. with her husband Denden Vestil and sons Kurt and Sean.
We had dinner together at Dampa district in Macapagal Avenue.
This is a place were you eat fresh seafoods like Baked cheese Tahong, buttered shrimp, crabs, among others.
Also with us were high school classmate Girlie Espiritu and her husband and daughter.
Ruby and I were classmates with Gigi in college at the College of Business Administration at Silliman.
Gigi says she is pursuing her master's degree in the U.S.
Husband Denden, who is originally from Cebu, work in a top company supplying packing machines worldwide. He is a frequent traveller, that is why he says travelling aboard airplanes is one thing he does enjoy.

Taal Vista Hotel

I recently attended the three-day 34th Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
The venue was at the plush Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City.
This was I think the former Taal Vista Lodge.
I was surprised, or if not amazeed, at the massive facelift of Taal Vista Hotel, which is now run by the SM group, which has ventured into the hotel industry.
There is an expansion going on, with the contruction of new hotel rooms, new convention facilities, among others.
I was holed up in a pretty large room, that had one large, king-sized bed and one single bed.
The bathroom was spacious.
I took some pictures just to show the improvements on this hotel.
I recommend this for a quick get-away from the busy metropolis.
I say "quick getaway", because Tagaytay is not far away from Manila as Baguio is.
Tagaytay is a summer destination in the Philippines.
It is perhaps the coolest place to be, outside Baguio City.
Baguio is 280 kilometers away from Manila.
Tagytay is only sixty kilometers away, down south.
Its just an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila
By the way, it is at Taal vista where you can have the best view of Taal Lake and Volcano.
If you havent been to Tagaytay for five or ten years, there's been a major face lift of the city.
Tagytay was not what it was five or ten years ago.
There are now many restraurants, places to stay.
The lastest to build is the Robinsons group which just opened about a month ago.
Robinson built a big grocery store, with condominiums ore condotels nearby.
I frequent Taygaytay because I have some cases pending in that single sala court there.

Get cash from your website. Sign up as affiliate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Take a breather when you're in Negros Oriental.
I would recommend you come visit Bahura.
It is a resort by the sea, in the town of Dauin, less than twenty kilometers south of Dumaguete City.
Not long ago, my parents treated us to a stay in Bahura.
It's got the larget outdoor swimming pool in the province.
I found Bahura relaxing.
You would likely notice the cool gush of the soft, morning breeze that touches the skin of your face.
In Bahura you would also notice the abounding coconut tress that are left undisturbed, which contributes to that naturally cool wind.
Bahura completes the laid-back life that you experience while in Dumaguete.
Bahura, I recall, offers a buffet lunch.
My son Josh specially enjoyed night swimming in their pool with cousins.
Bahura's got spacious rooms. There was one large bed, I think bigger than the king sized bed, plus there were other smalled beds. I think it was a family room we stayed in.
Bahura is the place if you desire your vacation to be private, and quiet.
There are times you feel you just don't want to be distubed, away from work.
Bahura would be a nice place to hang out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guihulngan is a city no more

Guihulngan’s bid to be the sixth and newest city of Negros Oriental has been thwarted after the Supreme Court last Tuesday (November 18) voided the town’s cityhood law.
The biggest setback suffered by Guihulngan is the reduciton of its share in the Internal Revenue Allotments.
Guihulngan stood to receive a much larger IRA share had it remained a city.
According to Director Terry Domugho, a native of neighbroing La Libertad, and our go-to-guy when it comes to local government data, information and issues, a town stands to receive about three times its I.R.A. share (as a town) if it is converted into a city.
He promised to provide the data for Guihulngan, particularly comparative figures on its I.R.A. share.
The high court in an en banc ruling (G.R. No. 177499) Tuesday declared as unconstitutional Republic Act No. 9409, the law that converted the municipality of Guihulngan into a city.
It became law on March 24, 2007.
However, subsequently, the League of cities filed a petition in the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional such “cityhood law”, along with fifteen other similar laws that converted towns into cities.
According to the league of cities, the “cityhood” laws violated the constitution because it exempted Guilhulngan and other similar towns from complying with the income requirement in the local government code.
The local government code Section 450, requires that in order for a town to be eligible to become a city, it must have an income of at least P100-million.
The local government code also prescribes minimum size and population for an applicant town.
But when the Guihulngan “cityhood” law was enacted, it contained a provision (Section 61) that exempted the town from complying with the income requirement in the local government code.
The League of cities, represented by the cities of Bais and Bayawan for Negros Oriental, protested the unfairness.
The leagues argued there is no basis for making such exemptions from compliance with the income requirement.
The Supreme Court agreed saying that the constitution specifically requires that the criteria prescribed in the local government code in order for a town to become a city must be followed.
The Supreme Court cited Section 10 Article X of the 1987 constitution which provides that: “No …city…shall be created,… except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code.
“Congress cannot create a city through a law that does not comply with the criteria or exemption found in the Local Government Code,” the Supreme Court declared.
The creation of cities must be through a general law, meaning the local government code, and not “cityhood” laws, the court noted.
But the policy protest of the league of cities is that they don’t want towns to become cities, and eventually share in the internal revenue allotments for cities, by making short-cuts (not complying with the income threshold requirement).
The Supreme court also cited Section 6 Article X of the constitution which provides that: “Local government units shall have a just share in the national taxes”
If towns are allowed to become cities without complying with the prescribed criteria in the local government code, then it would subvert the constitutional mandate for cities to have a “just share” share in the national taxes.

High school reunion videos

I just uploaded some of the video shots of our high school reunion held during the Founder's Day activities at Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
It was our twentieth year since high school graduation.
The activities were more elaborate since it was a major, week-long gathering.
I volunteered to be the video and picture taker for the event for purposes of posterity.
Below is one of the uploads I made on Youtube.

Off-road vehicles

I flew to Dumaguete recently for a professional engagement.
I was surprised when I arrived at my parents' home when there were huge, skeletal jeeps parked in front.
I realized these were off-road vehicles that were tmeporarily parked and were on their way for an off-road activity.
I was told that there is now a venue for off-road vehicles.
I was more surprised to hear that this is quite an expensive hobby.
One of the young owners of one of the jeeps I asked said that his vehicle already cost him more than one million pesos.
Off road jeeps are a combination of different parts to enable it to traverse difficult off road tracks.
I was also told that in order to even own one off-road jeep, it would cost at least three hundred thousand pesos.
What an expensive hobby!
This does not include the costs of maintenance, and perhaps re-modelling and improving these vehicles.
But the jeeps looked cool and rugged, I must admit.
Huge tires, elevated chassis, almost open air on all sides.
I couldn't afford this hobby.
So I contented myself by just taking pictures.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Digging into the Fertilizer fund scam

We should congratulate Representative George Arnaiz for coming forward to explain how he used the five million pesos which the province received for fertilizers to help our poor farmers with their farming efforts.
This five million pesos is part (kuno) of the P728-million “fertilizer fund scam” which is now being investigated by the Senate.
The allegation is that the P728-million was mis-used and eventually diverted to bankroll the candidacy of President Arroyo 2004.
On the hot seat is the former Agriculture Department undersecretary Jocelyn “joke-joke” Bolante, who has been alleged to be the architect of the fund mis-use and diversion.
Bolante has flatly denied the accusations under oath, on nationwide television before a Senate inquiry.
Rep. George Arnaiz (who was governor during the distribution of the controversial funds) has confirmed that five million pesos was actually received for Negros Oriental farmers.

The explanation

Rep. Arnaiz explained, and as published in this paper, that everything was in order and that five million pesos was used for the benefit of the farmers, and that no money went to private pockets.
I fully believe our good Rep. George Arnaiz.

Change of public purpose?

However, there are some points in his explanation that left me unsatisfied.

First question: Joke-joke Bolante testified under oath before the House investigation that "not a single centavo" of the fund went to any congressman, governor, or mayor. So what is this five million pesos admittedly received by the provincial government?
Second question: Why was part of the five million pesos received by the province (P1.75-million), used to buy “farm equipments” instead of fertilizers?
It was reported that when an additional P1.75 million was released by DBM representing the second tranche of the fertilizer fund, the provincial government decided to use it to buy farm equipments instead.
The farm equipments (which obviously are not fertilizers) include thresher/shellers, hand tractor, flat bed dryers.
Third question: Who has the discretion to switch the use of public funds from one public purpose (fertilizers), to another public purpose (farm equipments).

Boncodin testimony

May I refer to the 2006 Senate Committee report under former Senator Jun Magsaysay.
Former Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin testified before the committee that: The release of funds made by the DBM was for farm inputs which could incorporate fertilizers, seeds and even insecticides.
But the actual purpose for which the same will be used will depend on the Department of Agriculture” Boncodin said.
It is thus clear that it is the D.A. that decides the “actual purpose” for which the funds are to be used, not the local government.
Fourth question: What is the legal basis of the local government unit in changing the public purpose of public funds from “fertilizers” to “farm equipments”?
I am asking these question on the angle of technical malversation.
Technical malversation may arise if public funds are applied to a public use (farm equipments) other than that for which the fund has been appropriated (fertilizers).

The constitutional violation

May I kindly remind that we have a specific constitutional mandate in Section 25(2) Article VI that provides:"No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates."
It seems to me that the constitutional command that appropriations must be particularized and specific has been blatantly violated.
We hear testimony that money was given to local government officials. Some admit fertilizers were given (not cash). Other say the money was used to buy local fertilizers, and local farm equipment. Sir George says he received money and he conducted bidding on fertilizers and farm equipments. Ano ba talaga?
What does the national budget (the appropriations law) say?
Who has discretion? Bolante? The D.A.? The congressman? The governor?
Was the appropriations law followed in the P728-fertilizer fund?

Biggest Source of corruption

Do you know what is the biggest source of corruption in government?
Its called "Lump sum appropriations".
My theory is that lump sum appropriations are unconstitutional.
Lump sum appropriations are not particularized appropriations.
That is why funds are juggled, because they are appropriated in lump sum.
With lump sum approrpiations, the executive department(starting with the President)and the legislators, are just too happy because they have spacious room and wide latitude to juggle and maneuver our taxes to their liking (i.e. bankroll elections).
As one lawmaker asked: "What are we in power for?"
This is another good article to write about.

Better probing

With all due respect to our probing legislators, if they want to pin down Bolante, they should focus their questions on the constitutional provisions on appropriations.
They should determine whether the constitution (provisions on appropriations) was violated.
Then they should tie this issue with the criminal laws on malversation, technical malversation, and graft (RA 3019).
I used to work in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee. Questions are supposed to be thoughtfully prepared.
But it seems Bolante is more prepared--and very intelligent.
One unwritten rule has been violated in these legislative questionings: Do not ask open-ended questions when you have an intelligent witness.
If you do, the witness will drive you around town on a joyride.
And that is what Bolante has done successfully.

Why was there a local bidding?

What also disturbs me is the “bidding” conducted by the provincial government. This needs to be clarified.
Rep. Arnaiz’s explanation is that there was a (local) public bidding for the purchase of the fertilizers.
He publicized the winning bidders/suppliers of fertilizers.
However, I thought the P728-million fertilizer program was already a centralized negotiated contract between the Department of Agriculture and the controversial fertilizer supplier (Feshan).
It was the late journalist Marelene Esperat who exposed this “negotiated contract,” which many believed was the reason for her assassination.
So why did the provincial government conduct a local bidding for fertilizers, when there was already a negotiated contract between DA and the supplier Feshan?
If you were the entity/supplier with a contract with the Department of Agriculture already, and the local government unit still conducts a bidding to award to somebody else, how would you react? Will you be happy? Won't you sue?
It doesn't make sense, does it?

D.A. the procuring entity, not the LGU

Besides, the P728-million fertilizer fund is an appropriation to the Department of Agriculture (AFMA) and not to the provincial government.
So it should be the D.A. that should conduct the bidding or negotiated contract.
Under the procurement law (R.A. 9184) it is the D.A. that is the procuring entity (not the provincial government).
Under the general appropriations law, the fertilizer fund is an appropriation to the D.A., through the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), not to the provincial government.


There are quite interesting points in the good congressman’s explanations which I have compared with the Senate committee report.
Unfortunately, in my reading, many things do not match (Dili mo takdo).
I am thus prompted to ask: Is the five million pesos referred to by the good congressman in his explanation, really a part of the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund?
I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If your celphone is stolen, have it blocked

Celphone has become one of the coveted targets for stealing and snatching.
According to one observer, cellphones have become hot targets because nowadays, unlike a kiss, a celphone is not just a celphone.
A cellphone now has digital camera, digital video, MP3, internet facility, and other fancy accessories.
What should you do when somebody steals your cellphone?
Have the cellpone blocked by the NTC.
Cellphone blocking render the cellphone unusable.
When blocked, a cellpphone becomes useless.
Besides, then the cellpphone is sold by the one who stole it, there will be trouble when the cellphone isblocked.
What do you do when your cellphone is stolen?
You report it to the National Telecommunications Commission.
It is quite easy to have a cellphone blocked.
The NTC has prepared a pro-forma affidavit which will be deemed the formal request for blocking.
You just fill in the blanks.
The form of the affdavit is available at the NTC website
Generally required are you identification, proof of ownership or police report, among others.
Where do you file it?
At any NTC office whether the national office in Quezon City, any of the regional offices, or the NTC sattelite offices.
Better still, you can fax the form and other required documentary attachments to the NTC offices in Quezon City at (02) 924-3736.
Within one week from filing, the cellphone will be rendered unusable.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Our taxes used for private purpose?

In relation to the issue of public funds used for private purposes, I re-call a case on this regard: Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary of Public Works (G.R. L-10405, decided Dec. 29, 1960).
In the 1950’s, Gov. Wenceslao Pascual of Rizal province filed a case questioning the appropriation of P85,000 to be used purportedly for the construction repair extension and expansion of “feeder road terminals” in Pasig.
According to Gov. Pascual, these so-called feeder roads were yet planned subdivision roads that were not yet constructed.
Worse, the sites of these feeder roads were located within a private subdivision owned by a Senator, Jose C. Zulueta, which feeder roads do not connect to a government road or highway.
But just prior to the approval of this appropriation law, Senator Zulueta wrote the municipal council, offering to donate the projected feeder roads to the municipality of Pasig.

The charge

The charge of Gov. Pascual was that inasmuch as the projected feeder roads in question were private property at the time of the passage and approval of the appropriations law, such appropriation of P85,000.00 for the construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement of said projected feeder roads, was "illegal.
In short, Gov. Pascual charged that public funds were appropriated for a private purpose, which is illegal and unconstitutional.
The case was eventually elevated to the Supreme Court.

The issue

The issue brought before the court was whether or not the appropriation of P85,000 to construct a projected feeder road upon a location that was privately owned was legal or illegal.
The Supreme Court ruled the particular appropriation was illegal and, therefore void.
In this case, the Supreme Court laid down the rules and standards in determining whether a certain appropriation can be considered for public or private use.
In determining whether an appropriation is for public or private use, consequently it will be determined whether an appropriation is legal or illegal.

What is the test, according to the court?

The test of the constitutionality of a statute requiring the use of public funds is whether the statute is designed to promote the public interests, as opposed to the furtherance of the advantage of individuals, although each advantage to individuals might incidentally serve the public

According to the Supreme Court, inasmuch as the land on which the projected feeder roads were to be constructed belonged then to respondent Zulueta, the result is that said appropriation sought a private purpose, and, hence, was void.

Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary is a case commonly discussed in first year law school under constitutional law to find out, and to learn what is public purpose (legal) and private purpose (illegal).

Relating to the appropriation for T-shirts

Let us relate this important case of Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary of Public works, to the insistence of the city government to appropriate funds (reportedly P200,000.00) for T-shirts of city government employees.

The city government is inclined to push through with this T-shirt appropriation.
The argument, we read, is that anyway the T-shirts are to be used many times over in various activities.
The next argument is that the council determines what is necessary, therefore finding this necessity, then it can appropriate our taxes to buy T-shirts for city employees.

Applying the Supreme Court test

If we follow the test applied by the Supreme Court, the question is: will the appropriation for T-shirts of city employees promote the interests of ordinary taxpayers like you and me?
If so, how does the appropriation of funds to buy T-shirts for city employees promote our interests as a taxpayers?
If city government employees wear T-shirts on parades, how does that promote and advance the general welfare of citizens?
Let’s be more liberal. How will the wearing of T-shirts by city employees even remotely or incidentally advance the welfare of taxpayers and the community?
Can the city government explain that to us ordinary citizens, whose hard-earned taxes are to be used to buy these T-shirts?

To be used many times

The argument advanced to back the T-shirt appropriation is that “anyway the T-shirts will be used many times” in various activities.
Even if that T-shirt is worn a thousand times, we still go back to the basic question: How will these T-shirts advance and promote the welfare of ordinary taxpayers?
Will the taxpayers’ money not be put to better use if the city instead buy more equipment for our police, who until now are still using vintage police vehicles?
Which would advance and promote the public welfare?
Let’s call a spade a spade: Will the T-shirt appropriation advance the public interest, or the politicians’ interest?


Another argument advanced by the city to justify the T-shirt appropriation is that it is the council that determines what is necessary or not.
This argument is at the height of misplaced political arrogance.
The issue is not necessity.
The issue is legality.
Besides, how has it become necessary to buy T-shirts for city employees?
Are city employees walking around naked, that they need to be clothed?
Where is the necessity?
Are the T-shirts merely for aesthetics?
Is aesthetics tantamount to necessity?


Hence we kindly appeal to our trustworthy (“kasaligan”) public servants at city hall.
We are guided by laws and rules laid down by the Congress and the Supreme Court.
We follow these rules so that there will be order and progress in society.
That is why there is such a thing as upholding “the rule of law” not the rule of rogue public officials.
We hope that those entrusted with our hard-earned taxes will properly use it to promote the welfare of the whole community, not a handful of political supporters.
Otherwise, we just have to appeal to the electorate to remember these untrustworthy public officials in the coming election.
We, in the press, assure you:
We will not forget.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Joshua turns ten

Today, November 8, 2008 Joshua turns ten.
More than anything else, he's excited on his birthday.
He wants to buy something at a department store.
We treated him at Burger King, a favorite burger store of his.
We ordered one Whopper meal, and shared it among the three of us.
One big burger is enough for us three.
A little later he bought a toy at Landmark.
Then we bought home a chicken for dinner.
In the evening, we watched fireworks display near our home.
We took some pictures.
Surprisingly, our old reliable Olympus delivered interesting shots.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mines View Park Today

We recently took the weekend off and motored 280 kilometers to Baguio City.
My wife Ruby, Josh, and I didn't realize it's been five years since we last visited the country's coolest city.
Baguio's cool, literally and figuratively.
In grade school, Baguio's taught as the "summer capital of the Philippines."
It's called Pine City because of the countless pine trees that litter accross the slopes of the Baguio mountains that contribute to that chilly atmosphere.
One of the places we re-visited was Mines View Park.
This is the place on a mountaintop where spectators can take a panoramic and breath-taking view of the mountains and the valleys that make Baguio alluring to both foreign and domestic tourists.
What were the news things we saw in Baguio?
There's that new SM mall that sits on a pedestal on an elevated plain.
It's the first time we went to that enormous "mall on a mountain".
What's new at Mines View?
Well, we noticed a greater number of Asian tourists (Koreans, Chinese?), and a growing number of stalls in the area.
Below is a video of what Mines View Park looks on a typical day.

COA, the press, and good governance

We have, in this space, shared a series of interesting incidents in local governance through the regular reports of the Commission on Audit (COA).
When I was handed copies of COA reports, it has been a feeling of bitter-sweet.
It is sweet to see that the COA reports are a “goldmine,” in terms of trying to see how governance can be improved, particularly in trying to plug the loopholes to prevent taxpayers money from being unnecessarily drained.
At the same time, it is bitter to read how our hard-earned taxes have been wasted and illegally disbursed by public servants who have been entrusted to take care of public funds.
Public funds, we have discovered, have been funneled to what we call "bubble-gang disbursements", illegally channeled to private purposes.
We have seen innovative ways to divert public funds away from intended purposes.
It is sickening.
Nevertheless, we have noticed that the COA reports we have been furnished so far have been sincerely attempting to promote good governance, and the proper handling of the peoples’ funds.
Unfortunately, the COA recommendations have fallen on deaf ears.
The illegal activities (read: corruption) continue unabated.
We cannot let the moment pass without thanking our tireless COA personnel, commnedable public servants, who have been trying to correct what is wrong with government.
This is not an easy task, considering the political pressures that come with the job.
This is not to say that the COA is totally insulated from the creeping claws of corruption.
We have also seen certain COA personnel and officers (not in Negros Oriental) who have yielded to worldly desires, and who have succumb to the charms of corruption.
You can easily see when a COA report is tainted with corruption because the report “sees-no-evil” and “hears-no-evil”. Thus we "read-no-evil."
A corrupted COA report is like pornography.
You know it when you see it.
But not the COA reports we have read so far.
That is why we, in the media have been willing instruments and collaborators with the COA in pursuit of good governance.
We are willing to be disseminators to the public of official COA findings, so that the people will know how their hard earned taxes are being used and spent, or misspent (like for nose repair).
We in the press will continue to do our share in exercising vigilance because we feel and we know that people don't want their tax money wasted.
Our role as disseminators of information on matters of public concern is well defined.
COA audits. Media reports.
Our hope is that the public too, will do their share in exercising vigilance over the affairs of government.
COA alone cannot do it.
Media alone cannot do it.
But together, as a people, we can help build a better government.