Last hurrahs

After five years under PNoy’s constant watch, officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways—without any sign of shame and regret—admitted publicly that they were not able to control Metro Manila’s flood problems in time for the start of this year’s rainy season. Very boldly, they still announced that they would be able to do so before the end of PNoy’s six-year term of office on June 30, 2016.

In other countries, they would have been fired or made to resign immediately.

Don’t PNoy and these officials realize that floods cause huge traffic jams, slow down the economy, and make life miserable for everybody? 

They do. That is why PNoy has never hesitated to release hundreds of billions of pesos for their agency’s flood control projects. For next year alone, he is allocating to it P600 billion.

Despite the President’s full financial support, DPWH has failed to control floods in the country’s most economically productive metropolis, the most that matters to us Metro Manila residents.

Yet for PNoy, DPWH is good enough to be named his model agency worthy for emulation in his “Tuwid na Daan” administration after it has become less corrupt, even if not corrupt-free yet.

Officials of the Department of Transportation and Communication must have emulated already DPWH officials in the way they, too, have admitted their failure to provide a reliable mass transport system to the thousands of workers who commute daily along Edsa to Makati City. They are offering to issue incident reports such that when their light rail trains break down, workers may use these reports as excuse slips for their respective workplaces.

We wish employers would not penalize workers who come late provided they have these incident reports.

Other government officials behave likewise, still optimistic about the passage of the half-baked draft Bangsamoro Basic Law and unmindful that the Mamasapano massacre of the Fallen 44 has rendered its non-passage anything but moot and academic.

They boast of still being able to accomplish before June 30, 2016 the projects that they initiated five years ago and not even completed halfway. At best, they are naive; at worst, they are deceitful.

For us pensioners, nothing could be more disgusting than the recent announcements of officials of the Social Security System to invest abroad and increase contributions.

First, they announced investing $1 billion abroad. Because this is not doable, as this requires two years of preparations, it would be rejected eventually by SSS members. Moreover, politicians would feast on shooting it down before next year’s presidential election.

Yet SSS officials have announced it. Perhaps they still desire to travel abroad—for the last time, in the last days of this administration—in the guise of consulting foreign fund managers.

Haven’t they previously announced their plan to invest P1 billion using local fund managers? Weren’t PhilHealth officials supposed to follow suit?

This investment strategy has not been carried out. Otherwise, SSS and PhilHealth would have triumphantly named these elite fund managers so we can profusely thank them.

SSS has also announced a contribution increase before the end of PNoy’s term. Indeed, increasing contributions—rate and the maximum amount subject to contributions—is the real funding solution to systematically adjust pensions. But would SSS dare do it in an election year? No.

Only recently, Congressman Neri Colmenares proposed a P2,000-pension increase without any funding support. Knowing that this would not be approved, SSS officials easily acquiesced to it. After all, it has a calming effect on the starving pensioners as they falsely hope for it. In reality, it would never come.

Why can’t SSS officials stop announcing plans that are worth discussing only in barbershops? Nothing significant is going to happen anymore to its programs under PNoy’s time, and if ever there are new projects worthy of consideration, they are better left for their successors to pursue.

For their last hurrahs, SSS officials should instead announce things that would please SSS members—for instance, the completion of long-pending projects.

They could announce the status of the project to re-post the contribution records that they had inadvertently deleted. They could then announce that pensions have been adjusted for the 1.8 million pensioners who now wait for them impatiently.

PNoy’s officials are on their way out, and as before, their only remaining valid agenda is the cleanup of the mess that they have created. Perhaps they were all made in the name of reform, still graft and corruption cases—real or fabricated—would be filed against them by the new administration’s Ombudsman.

It has been experienced by recent former presidents from Ferdinand Marcos to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. President Cory Aquino was spared only because she was able to anoint her national defense secretary as her successor after pragmatically junking her husband’s bosom friend despite being selected in her party’s national convention.

PNoy seems unperturbed, but his officials should know better. As the cycle goes—if they did it to their predecessors, their successors will do it to them, too.

Such is the harsh cycle of life in government in the Philippines.

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