Rough cuts | These two MinDA work horses

THIS admonition by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region XI for barangay officials who are in the government’s drugs watchlist not to run in the forthcoming barangay and Kabataan elections, to us, is off tangent and unfair.

If we have to analyze the advice by the PDEA Regional Director it can be taken to mean that only those incumbents who are in the drugs watchlist are asked to stay off the polls, not those who are in the list who but not yet barangay officials.

Besides, the order would tend to make every incumbent who will opt not to run for reelection suspect of being the officials in the barangay who are in the government watchlist. Why, because not every voter knows who are among their incumbent officials and other barangay residents are in the list.

The PDEA has yet to divulge the names and this makes the situation hard for the voters to make the right choice.

And if non-incumbents who are in the list run they may have the bigger chances of winning more so because if they are in the illegal drugs business they sure have the resources to run their campaign.

Given this situation we believe that the PDEA could be of better help if it can find ways to disclose to the public, especially to the voters in the barangays, who among the incumbents and other residents are in the government watchlist.

Of course we know that the agency could be in legal mess if they disclose the names without filing cases against those who they believe are in the illegal drug activities. Thus, it is imperative that the PDEA must adopt a more subtle way of getting to the voters’ consciousness the names of incumbents in their barangays as well as those who are first time candidates that are in the government watchlist. And not only that; the government agency must also endeavor to expose any candidate supported financially by those in the illegal drugs trade.

Yes, the PDEA may provide the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) the names of people in the barangays included in the drugs watchlist. But since there is no law prohibiting mere suspects to a crime or allegedly engaged in criminal activities from running for public office, the poll body cannot reject the candidacy of any of those in the watchlist.

Thus, with so little a time left before the election of barangay officials, we can only think of at least two effective ways of preventing those drug traders from getting control of barangay governance. One is to provide the voters hint as to who are those in the list. The other is to undertake extensive surveillance on the officials concerned and make arrest prior to the elections. If none of the preceding measures is adopted then the possibility that incumbents in the drugs watchlist will get reelected or elected to higher position in the barangay government. And certainly first time candidates also in the roll get elected as new barangay officials.

And that would make the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs even more difficult to succeed especially at the barangay level.


     Here is one welcome news for Mindanaoans!

That is, that there is one congressman from the island who has shown some degree of receptiveness to the plight of the people in this southern Philippine region. And he is Cagayan de Oro City’s second district congressman Maximo Rodriguez, chair of the Lower House Mindanao Affairs Committee.

According to Congressman Rodriguez a technical working group (TWG) has been formed and will be meeting at the sidelines of Congress hearings of the 2019 national budget to assess the fairness of the allocation for Mindanao. The TWG will also come up with a more realistic budget share proposal for Mindanao in the 2019 planned national appropriations act. Already, the 12 percent Mindanao share in the 2018 budget is not responsive to the island’s development requirement vis-à-vis its contribution to the country’s overall national gross domestic product (GDP).

Congressman Rodriguez agrees with the common observation that it is high time that allocating funds for Mindanao must be in accordance with its desire to address the pressing issue of poverty, and at the same time effectively spur the island’s socio-economic growth.

And one good thing about this TWG is that other than the Mindanao Affairs Committee of Congress, the DBM, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and its Investment Coordinating Committee, and other relevant national government agencies, Mindanaoans now have a stronger representation in the budget review group. It is the very significant role given the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in the budget review activities.

Yes, if Mindanao would be able to get a national budget share a lot bigger than its present measly 12 percent allocation we can only thank to the aggressiveness of the present leadership of MinDA in the tandem of Executive Director Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto and Deputy Exec. Director and Asst. Secretary Romeo Montenegro.

They are real workhorses. The President could not have made a better choice in appointing them to their positions.

Posted in Opinion