ROUGH CUTS| ‘Stoning’ ‘Bato’ this election

THIS IS IT. When some senior police officers were reported to have shown clear partiality towards Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas only a pseudo investigation was made and it was simply dismissed as some coincidental “socializing” by the police officers with people known to Roxas’s “operator.”

     When Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa posted on his social media account a statement to the effect warning those who intend to cheat and intimidate during the May 9 elections “WE WILL CRUSH YOU!!!” he got relieved faster than the bolt of lightning.

     How come the top leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is so quick in interpreting Dela Rosa’s statement as political partisanship? Is it because the PNP leadership knows who is capable of cheating and has the means to do it? Is it because the PNP leadership cannot afford to offend those politicians who are likely to cheat by manipulating the outcome of the elections or has the influence over the police themselves?

     Or, is it because Chief Supt. Dela Rosa is from Davao and if his former unit will be able to thwart the cheaters in the polls it will be to the advantage of the presidential candidate from Davao City?

     Well, this last possibility could be the most likely reason, we assume.

–ooOoo–

     It’s really sad that the Davao City Council was unable to have a quorum in its scheduled session last Tuesday, May 3, 2016. And it was even more unfortunate that because of the lack of quorum the council failed to tackle one very important item that it should have deliberated much earlier. We are referring to the request of several barangays, mostly in the rural and agricultural areas, for the council to declare their parts of the city under a state of calamity as a consequence of the El Nino that caused a drought since late last year.

     It may be recalled that in our earlier columns we have been egging the City Agriculture Office (CAO) to conduct a survey of the barangays and make an assessment of the damage of the long drought on crops. Personally we have observed that farmers were already reeling from the loss of income because a significant number of their plants such as durian, cacao, coconut, banana, lanzones, coffee, mangosteen and other fruit bearing trees were already dead or are dying. Moreover, they were also unable to plant corn and even rice because of the absence of rain. The volume of vegetables brought to the market already dwindled causing its prices to shoot up. No thanks to the middlemen.

     Now we have read reports in the local papers that CAO executive Rocelio Tabay has come up with an estimate on crop damage. It is a whooping P400 million, an amount which we assume, could have been derived as a result of the survey that the said office has already conducted. And Tabay admitted that it was not yet the final amount. So, it could even be much bigger.

     And we know that as a matter of policy the government cannot release any form of assistance to the affected farmers unless their barangays are declared under a state of calamity. On the other hand, a local government unit can only declare an area under a state of calamity after validation by proper agencies of the level of damage claimed by the farming communities. And the declaration by the local government executive must be done through a resolution recommending such action by the legislative body.

     Unfortunately for the city’s farmers and their families, during last Tuesday’s (May 3) scheduled session where the urgent request for such declaration was to be deliberated upon, the council failed to have a quorum. Only fourteen councilors showed up even after waiting for one hour. Had one more council member arrived then the local legislative body could have met the required 15 to have a quorum. But no other councilor came, so the temporary presiding officer second district councilor Danilo Dayanghirang had to call off the scheduled council session.

       While the records at the Council Secretariat showed that some of those who failed to attend the session were on official business, domestic leave (whatever this term means), sick leave, and on maternity leave, those who were recorded simply as absent could only be assumed to be truant or idling away time at the expense of their sworn duties.

     But were they really? And what animal is this “domestic leave?” Frankly we suspect that other than those councilors listed as on sick and maternity leaves, the rest were campaigning for their reelection or overseeing the campaign of the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates who have provided them logistics for their council run.

     So, can we stop the Davao City farmers from getting overly frustrated from those councilors whose failure to attend the session has caused the further delay of the city government’s assistance to alleviate their present plight?

     We are dead sure that those councilors who were absent in last Tuesday’s scheduled session have already seen the devastation the El Nino drought has wreaked on crops. They are assumed to have gone to the rural areas of their respective districts. The number of dead and dying fruit trees in farms along the road, and the wide swath of parching farm lands are too glaring not to be noticed.

     Of course it is a totally different story if those councilors have opted to ignore what they see in the countryside.

Posted in Opinion