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EDITORIAL: Looming Quid Pro Quo

Sometime in mid-November this year information circulated that the leadership of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines Sur has opted no longer to have the conduct of its proceedings covered and made public at least via internet (social media/ facebook). In previous years, particularly during the incumbency of then Vice Governor Fortunato Peña, such practice became a regular feature.

No particular reason for the move has ever been publicized. Be that as it may, and probably in the spirit of fairness, no media entity—whether broadcast or print, took to task the decision. After all, the term of local officials is barely six months old. Besides, choosing to make public or not the SP sessions is the prerogative of the provincial legislative body.

Also, lessons must have been learned during the Senate and House committee hearings covered live by some television and radio networks. Traditional politicians as they are, not a few senators and representatives (nothing in the Constitution provides that members of the House of Representatives occupy a position called congressman or congresswoman), took the opportunity for grandstanding thereby promoting their political career, for free, via what some describe as “in aid of reelection”.

The governance landscape however has changed following the complaint by SP member Emmanuel F. Llaguno (4th District) that he and other SP members identified with the opposition, particularly Gerald F. Pilapil (4th District) and Ruperto O. Alfelor (5th District), have not been provided copies of the proposed P3.6 billion budget of the province.

Llaguno, in slamming the lack of printed copies of the 2020 annual budget, aired the suspicion that perhaps the SP finance committee headed by Alexander James D. Jaucian (2nd District) was hiding something. Having the document machine copied is very simple and not that expensive anyway. Neophyte SP member Pilapil knows it. That is why he jokingly offered to donate a xerox copying machine.

Indeed, how come that even members of the provincial legislature have not been furnished copies of a very important document in order that it can be studied and reviewed? And is it so much for the asking if copies of the very important are furnished at least to the mainstream media, for purposes of public scrutiny?

As a consequence, the failure of the Jaucian committee to perform a simple, in fact mechanical task, lends credence to the widespread sentiment that the young provincial leadership is heading towards a policy that nurtures quid pro quo.

Such atmosphere promotes the practice of a pork barrel system which usually grows almost hand in hand with a parochial type of leadership. Quality pieces of legislation are relegated to the background to give way to secret transactions, or under the table deals, to the detriment of the public.

In a sense, the sight of a member of the SP lobbying for projects for the benefit of constituents within a given district is not really that reprehensible. The irregularities surrounding the implementation do make the situation unacceptable.

Such spectacle would have been avoided if only an air of secrecy does not circulate within the Capitol grounds as after all matters being subjected to legislative deliberations do not involve state secrets. Taking up concerns of public interest deserve openness. Otherwise the suspicion that the province’s legislature has been sleeping in deep slumber gains credence. The Sanngguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines looms to continue being a rubber stamp.

Don’t look now but this early there are already disturbing observations that absenteeism is prevalent among many of the Sanngguniang Panlalawigan members, including Vice Governor Imelda Papin herself.

Composition of committees is not at all given wide publicity, that is why those in need of help do not know who to approach.

Capitol needs transparency, unless something messy is in the works.

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