A P600-million market day
posted 21-Apr-2016  ·  
4,202 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Hector Sanchez’s offer of a P10-million performance bond covering all projects he intends to implement in the province is unprecedented. I’ve never heard of such tender from any public office seeker or a candidate for an elective position. Performance bonds, as we all know, are supposed to be guarantees from a person and/or entity to make them accountable for any failure or shortfall in funded projects, public or private, that they undertake. The bond then goes to the project end-user --Catanduanes province in Sanchez’s case-- the moment the program turned sour. Therefrom, Sanchez stands to lose P10 million; the province only to gain.

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Why is the former governor risking a fortune in this offer to kababayans? I am absolutely not his spokesman, but I have three things in mind: he has the money he can share with Catandungeños; the projects, despite the bigness of some, are doable or implementable; and that he is taking his quest for the Catanduanes congressional post very seriously.

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The offer may seem novel and as I said, precedent-setting, but the more you  look at it, it comes not as a mere campaign promise but something that the province and its officials and politicos can draw lessons from and experiment with. Instead of pocketing SOPs, our officials might as well share them with the constituents in the form of performance bonds payable to the people when projects break down. Here we can start and promote a culture of public accountability and likewise encourage people to be ever vigilant in monitoring the progress of projects funded by taxpayers’ money. If a bonded official did nothing during a three-year term, then we can collect the performance bonds to compensate us for the lost opportunity given to the non-performing official. He or she has to pay for wasting our precious votes and potentials. That simply is my sense of Hector’s proposed experiment in governance. These days of rapid change, we need to think of dramatic and speedy efforts and innovations. That is probably why the tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte of PDP-Laban and Donald Trump, US Republican, are enjoying immense acceptability and popularity as candidates.   .

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The May 9 elections will be the costliest ever in the province, for the candidates particularly. The array of aspirants and their much-rumored fortunes say so. And the candidates are well aware of the seasonal “pera-pera” epidemic in the island infecting about 70 to 80 percent of its population. The only way to effectively fumigate our beloved “isla” of election ailments is ironically to spread the “medicine” (the manang) evenly and proportionately and in higher doses if possible, at the same time making sure that the bills will reach the individual pockets. My empirical forecast is that close to P600 million will be splurged by all candidates to win votes, with about 90 percent coming in the final five days before May 9. Some may disagree with the monstrous figure but this space came out with the estimate, based on what had been observed in the past elections. The “cabos” or the ward leaders of the candidates even expect bigger figures because they expect to be gratified more for their effort, loyalty and hard work in proclaiming the greatness and generosity of their respective principals.

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The absorptive capacity of this small island to handle this anticipated massive deluge of cash is no longer an issue. In Virac, I see the appliance shops, motorbike distributors, IT shops and bazaars now stocking up, their shops filled to the brim with the merchandize. Liquor manufacturers are obviously enjoying brisk sales while the island’s population wait in suspense as to how much will be the per-voter budget and which candidate will hit the streets and the barangays first.  In the past, according to a colleague in Manila who used to do public relations work for the Ginebra San Miguel brand, Catanduanes has consistently been the biggest election-time consumer of their product. In one election year, the “import figure” of Ginebra for the island reached a staggering 60,000 to 65,000 cases of the branded gin. But now it’s Emperador Light though the figure can hardly be obtained. That said, it looks like the Catandungeños are prepared to absorb and behave correspondingly to the sudden increase in money supply which at this point is now being felt.

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This space is not discouraging this inflationary election scenario because nothing can be done anyway. Everybody is cheerful and buoyant hoping that the candidates will keep themselves in sight at the proper time. Who will stand in the way of an impoverished populace if the excuse for their indulgence sounds like “paminsan minsan lang ito” or as Kuya Kim of ABS-CBN Radyo Patrol puts it “ang buhay ay weather-weather lang”.

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Now where do our authorities stand and how should they behave in this anticipated breakdown in electoral discipline? How will the PPCRV, the church or other election watchdogs exercise their respective mandates if the people themselves and the candidates are in conspiratorial mood? How can our officials moralize publicly, too, on decent and honest voting if they have their own candidates and are openly partisan. The last bastion certainly would be the Comelec, the chief enforcer of our suffrage laws, along with the Comelec-deputized PNP and the military. But the Comelec and its deputies can’t join the euphoria over expensive elections because the law expressly binds them to a prime responsibility of keeping the elections orderly, honest and credible. An excited referee is a sore item in a game.

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ROSULO welcomes comments via: rosmanlangit@yahoo.com

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