Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bantay Salakay

In a newly created Facebook page for the Philippine Business Investor Protectorate (see the page), Mark Borders, a fellow blogger and a Lianga resident for some time now, has recently fired a written broadside against grafters in the local government service that is shaking up the local establishment and ruffling up the feathers of some civil servants here, The Protectorate, as described in its webpage, was formed to fight corruption in government primarily by exposing actual cases and instances of such official misdeeds to public knowledge and scrutiny.

In the tradition of the great whistle-blowers of recent Philippine history like retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, whose on-going and unrelenting crusade against jueteng or the illegal numbers game in Luzon, has made him a household name, Mark has not only revealed instances of his alleged personal experiences and encounters with corrupt local government officials and functionaries but has even gone further by actually naming names and specifically identifying these individuals.

Mark, of course, for those new to this blog, is an American national who is married to a local girl and who has made the decision to live here and do whatever he can to help improve the poor living conditions and desperate economic situation in what has become his adopted community. He has been for some two years or so been trying to set up some business investments in Barangay St. Christine some 8 or so kilometers north of Lianga which he felt would not only generate much needed employment but could also provide the economic stimulus that could help jumpstart what remains largely a moribund local economy. He writes passionately about his experiences in his own blog (see Barangay St. Christine blog).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reality Check

I was several days ago in Tandag, the capital of the province of Surigao del Sur,and while there was eager to try to gauge the prevailing sentiments of the local population with regards to the recent Supreme Court ruling that, with finality, stripped it of its classification as a new city of the province and which forced it to revert to its old status as a municipality.

The final high court ruling was a reversal of an earlier December 21, 2009 judgment which had declared the constitutionality of the 16 laws creating Tandag City and 15 other new cities all over the country. It also served to reinstate an even earlier November 18, 2008 ruling that had originally struck down (as unconstitutional)) the same city-hood laws upon the petition of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) which had elevated the case originally to the Supreme Court. In a rare and stunning legal reversal, the same court had overturned that particular decision (as already mentioned in 2009) upon a submitted motion for reconsideration by the then 16 supposedly new cities including Tandag. The LCP then asked for a reversal again of the 2009 ruling which the high court granted with finality just weeks ago.

Setting aside the legal calisthenics and uncharacteristic flip flopping from the Supreme Court, most Tandag residents I talked to seemed resigned if not perplexed at the rather unusual if not embarrassing turn of events their town (or city if you must) had to recently go through. And most of them cannot seem to understand or fathom the reasons why their political leaders had put them through the roller-coaster ride that saw them rejoicing, celebrating and reveling in the euphoria of believing that their town's long sought after dream of city-hood was finally theirs only to be brought down crashing to earth with the embarrassing news that they had just been taken for a fool's ride.