I was more than a bit bemused by the lively exchange of comments this blog got from readers to the blog post titled "Tangible Progress" wherein I described the positive impact the on-going road modernization program being implemented by the national government in the Lianga area is having on the daily lives of the residents of that town.
What struck me as significant is that much of the discussion (or contention, if you will) in the comments section has focused not on the real or "tangible" effects the massive road infrastructure program will have on the communities that will benefit from it but on the question of who should get the credit for getting the program funded and started in the first place. One should be thinking that if the person (or persons) who are indeed responsible for convincing the national government to bankroll and implement this much needed and anticipated project really deserves recognition for his (or their) efforts, then he (or they) would have no need to crow about it or advertise the fact. The facts (and such facts are always difficult to hide nowadays) would always speak for themselves.
Does Congressman Philip Pichay deserve all the credit for the concrete roads and bridges that will soon connect many of the municipalities of Surigao del Sur, Lianga most of all, whose infamous dirt roads and rickety, wooden bridges used to bedevil and haunt would be travelers in the Caraga region until recently? It happened, after all, during his watch, didn't it?
By the way, the rehabilitation and concreting of the roads particularly around Lianga is part of a larger package of road and highway modernization projects covering much of what is referred to as the Surigao-Davao coastal road system. As such, it would have been impossible not to include Lianga in the program since the national highway does go through the town and, thus, to exclude Lianga for any reason would have essentially emasculated a vital transportation artery that services the entire province of Surigao del Sur and the Caraga region.
Should the local folks be thanking instead former Congressman Prospero "Butch" Pichay, who, according to his supporters, had lobbied long and hard for foreign funding for the road concreting program during his three terms as congressional representative for the 1st district of the province before his brother Philip replaced him? That despite the fact that the Word Bank loan that would have have paid for the undertaking was eventually withdrawn abruptly because of allegations of bidding irregularities and overpricing of materials committed by private contractors in collusion with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways?
Should they be thanking Bishop Nerio P. Odchimar of the Diocese of Tandag who, as a senior official of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, was said to have personally and persuasively campaigned with Malacañang and supposedly got President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself to commit and appropriate funds for the road modernization program after the Word Bank loan debacle?
How about Gov. Vicente Pimentel, Jr. and the provincial government of Surigao del Sur who had primary responsibility for looking after the general welfare of the people of his province. Gov. Pimentel,his fellow provincial officials and the various municipal officials under him would not have been sitting down on their jobs and idly watching their constituents suffer the rigors and pains of traveling up and down the dilapidated roads of the province without buttonholing every official in the national capital who could help them address and solve that problem.
And most of all, it is perhaps Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself who should be lauded for making the Davao-Surigao del Sur road improvement program a priority undertaking of the national government as part of the SONA (State of the Nation) general infrastructure program she had presented before Congress. Some government insiders have even been supposedly tasked by Malacañang to monitor the progress of the road works in Surigao del Sur and insure that the President's image and name be prominently displayed in billboards in all work sites since the funding for the program is separate from that of the congressional pork barrel and released solely by the authority of the President herself.
Without any doubt, the concreting and modernization of the roads and highways in Surigao del Sur is the most significant infrastructure project that has been implemented in this province in the past four or five decades and its impact on the social and economic development of the province rivals that of the opening of the first primitive road networks in this part of Mindanao in the 1960's. The positive changes that project will bring will be felt for generations to come so it is understandable why laying claim to be the person who was responsible for bringing that program to actual fruition has become somewhat of a heated pastime among local politicians and political observers.
Suffice it to say, without trying to ruffle the feathers of those who, either deservedly or undeservedly, have claimed credit for the massive infrastructure undertaking, the residents of Lianga and the people of Surigao del Sur, in their wisdom, will, as a matter of course, eventually determine for themselves to whom the real credit is due. Noisy self-advertising and self-glorification from politicians and their promoters will matter little in the long run.
For if any of them are right and the others wrong, then the truth will be plain for all to see. And if some are merely bragging and posturing then (to paraphrase Lincoln) not even ten angels swearing that they are right will make a difference.