Abang Lingkod backer asks a most timely question
posted 25-Mar-2019  ·  
787 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

The campaign for the May 13, 2019 national elections has reached the island.

Last Sunday, March 17, 2019, the Abang Lingkod partylist’s main supporter, Rep. Albee Benitez, and the group’s first nominee, Talisay City Mayor Dr. Eric Saratan, brought along entertainers in the persons of actor Joross Gamboa, actress Barbie Imperial, comedian Brod Pete, and magician Jeffrey Tam, to cajole a star-thirsty audience at the Virac town plaza to reserve their partylist vote for No. 163.

Certainly, the group has a powerful local backer: the party of Congressman Cesar Sarmiento and his brother Atty. Jorge Sarmiento.

This represents a viable challenge to the other contenders for the largest share of the partylist vote: Talino at Galing ng Pinoy (TGP) of former Vice Gov. Jose “Bong” Teves Jr. and his Tau Gamma Phi brothers; Barangay Natin (BaNat) partylist whose first nominee is Provincial Board Member Joseph Al-Randie Wong; Ako Bicol (AKB) partylist whose nominees are key officers of the Sunwest group of companies; and, Inang Mahal partylist based in Pangasinan whose first nominee is former Cong. Gina de Venecia who has roots in Pandan town.

Like their rivals, the Abang Lingkod trumpeted its advocacies for farmers and fisherfolks, particularly touting its establishment of help desks at public hospitals in the Negros provinces to help indigent patients source funding assistance from other government agencies.

Benitez, a third-termer like Sarmiento, noted that health issues in Catanduanes are similar to that in his home province but to make things easier for the poor families, his group convinced other congressmen and the governors in the region to pool together funding for a health insurance scheme which takes care of the shortfall in assistance given by the government.

The partylist group’s goals are indeed noble and well-meaning, like the rest of those trying to convince the electorate that the partylist system is working and is in no need of reform or abolition. As one political observer noted, the groups’ intention to help their chosen sectors cannot be questioned until their nominees actually begin taking their seats in Congress and start acting like traditional politicians.

But there is hope somehow, if the public is to read deeply into a query posed by Cong. Benitez during last Sunday’s interaction with the local media in picturesque Batag beach resort.

Here’s the intriguing question of the country’s third richest congressman, Alfredo Abelardo Benitez of the 3rd District of Negros Occidental:

“Why do indigents have to secure letters of guaranty from congressman when the assistance for the indigent patient could be received directly by the hospital?”

The good congressman’s insight should make the electorate shout for joy and do cartwheels in grateful appreciation.

Finally, a member of the House of Representatives hits the bull’s-eye as far as identifying the causes of government dysfunction is concerned.

Indeed, why does the legislature allocate funding for health assistance to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local social welfare offices through the Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) and other programs when it can directly allocate the money directly to public hospitals?

Why does the national government allow the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to set aside money for health assistance when the two corporations can just turn over the funds to the budget department for distribution to public hospitals?

Why do the Filipino people, particularly the poor, allow themselves to become beggars as they go around government agencies and the gambling corporations to line up for cash aid?

How long can we endure this kind of governance that continues to tax the people despite a budget now in the trillion range and hundreds of billions lost to corruption?

Ask yourself these three questions and try not to go mad from despair.


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