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EDITORIAL: Of Rubber Stamps & Sacrificial Lambs

Fazed with a barrage of negative comments of the way he and his peers are doing their part in ensuring a more expeditious and organized implementation of the Social Amelioration Program, Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, in a hearing conducted by the Lower Chamber, found a convenient escape goat: the DSWD.

This is not to defend the DSWD personnel, but to a very large extent, politicians now holding influential posts, mostly members of the House Majority, are principally to blame. They feel so entitled up to the extent of pulling the strings linked to the appointive government employees so that the latter may move in cadence with the baton of district representatives.

This stratagem proved to be very beneficial to the district legislators, but tragic to the target beneficiaries who suffered further from opportunistic local government leaders well connected with the powers-that-be. As the benefits trickled down, their amount continued to get smaller. Those entrusted with the task of distributing the benefits, learning from their idols, found a chance to get a slice of the pie.

It is wrong therefore to toss the blame solely upon the field personnel of the DSWD. Lest it be overlooked, most of them would not have landed into their job, without the endorsement of an influential political personality. Some may have the required eligibility but realities in the field force them to bow to the wishes of their patrons/sponsors, when payback time comes. This is true in all government branches—executive, legislative and yes, even the judiciary.

Or else they will be treated as an outcast up to the point that they may be deprived of certain perks they are otherwise entitled to. Examples: travel, food and clothing allowances, or even supplies and materials. Sad to say, the “padrino” system has never died down. It has gained more influence and strength.

The shift from electing legislators at large to limited representation has only concretized parochialism. This is true not only in terms of district representation but also in the composition of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan the members of which are now elected by district.

Once already in office, they are left no choice but to kowtow with the provincial governor in order to get a share of what used to be known as countrywide development fund. The name may have been changed but just the same, its purpose is similar—a sweetener. A romanticized term for pork barrel.

This governmental malaise has long haunted the entire Philippine society. In fact, even municipal/city and barangay LGU’s are already infected. While the members of the local legislative body are elected at large, they become caretakers of specific zones or villages and when it comes to fund releases they become entitled to mini pork barrels, disbursed style parochialism.

Given the fact however that legislative inquiries are intended in aid of legislation, it is asked: What does the committee hearing attended by no less than speaker Cayetano intend to attain? What piece of legislation is desired in order that the topsy turvy manner of implementing the SAP may not be repeated?

It may be of help to point out that field personnel of different departments are under their respective heads (cabinet members). That having been said although inter-governmental branch courtesy may be ideal, the same should not be used as a tool for political encroachment.

As things now appear there is so much confusion --- a legislator wants to be an executive while the executive dictates upon the legislative branch which has been reduced into a rubber stamp.

Given the situation, Congress has allowed itself to be a rubber stamp while the department field personnel are utilized as sacrificial lambs. End result: blame game, passing the buck, with no end in sight, under the supervision and control by one fond of crying wolf and habitual cavalier white washing.

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