MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Trust and credibility issues

Everybody says that the P1-million (some more, some less) bonuses that the Social Security System commissioners awarded themselves, supposedly for good performance, for the year 2012 were unethical, untimely, inappropriate and certainly immoral. Santa Banana, SSS President/CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. makes it doubly immoral and untimely with a statement that the commissioners have already decided that they would again give themselves the same bonuses this year! There seems to be a syndrome among the allies and appointees of the Aquino administration. They like to fatten themselves with people’s money while it lasts—never mind the rank-and-file employees or the SSS members themselves. Yes, those bonuses were legal. They were approved by the Governance Commission for GOCCs. But how can these commissioners become so greedy at a time when members are being asked to contribute more to prolong the life of the System? SSS employees are also not getting any bonus or rewards despite de Quiros’ claims that it was a performance-based incentive. Granting that the SSS bonuses are performance-based, what have De Quiros and his ilk done that the employees haven’t? Yes, commissioners attended weekly board and committee meetings, but that’s about all. On the contrary, SSS is what it is because of its employees. Incidentally, I am a SSS pensioner, getting a measly pension of P3,513.84 a month. Big deal, indeed, after working for over a half a century as a journalist. Either my employers failed to remit contributions to the SSS, or the SSS itself failed to compute the years I have been a member. But, let’s rewind a bit when starting June this year, my pension checks did not reach me. Accompanied by my daughter, I went to the SSS office along Gil Puyat (Buendia) Makati to find out. I was told that when I changed my address, my pension checks did not reach me. I was told to go to the Makati Post Office to check. (Speaking of the Makati SSS office, De Quiros and his cohorts should visit it. It’s so cramped that it looks like a market place. It’s worse since outside of the SSS office is a real flea market. My gulay, It’s like going to Divisoria! Is that performance-based? The Makati Post Office is even worse. Obviously, Postmaster General Josie dela Cruz and Postal President Steve Sarino, my former high school student at the Ateneo, have not seen the place. There, employees are in slippers and eat on their tables while talking to people.) After searching for my records for an hour, I was told that my checks were sent back to the main office in Quezon City. Thus, I went back to the SSS office along Gil Puyat Avenue where I was told to fill out information sheets again so that they would send my checks to my new address. What performance? * * * The outrage shown by Filipinos here and abroad over plunder of their money by government officials is now taking another shape. The issue is not only at President Aquino’s doorstep; it has entered his bedroom and has created a serious credibility issue. For so long as the issue of constitutionality of the pork barrel system is not resolved, the President’s credibility will suffer. My gulay, I can’t believe it when spokesmen of the President claim that since Priority Development Assistance Fund has been abolished, its constitutionality is no longer an issue. I must have written a hundred times that PDAF as we know it may no longer be in the General Appropriations Act of 2014, but it has metamorphosed into some other thing in the guise of what is called “line budgeting and “realignment.” They forget that what the people want is the total abolition of pork barrel, whether from Congress or the Executive. This issue can no longer be blamed on the past administration since it’s President Aquino who is now calling the shots in Malacañang. And when people no longer believe in and trust their President, the road, no matter how straight they claim it to be, leads nowhere. * * * The forthcoming barangay elections (October 28) may be but a drop in the political bucket, but closer inspection reveals that even political small fry have become no better than “trapos,” or traditional politicians. Here’s a case in point. Not too long ago, controversy erupted in Barangay San Lorenzo, a gated, exclusive village at the heart of the commercial district of Makati City, when then Chairman Joshua “Jay” Santiago was suspended from office. This was an offshoot of charges filed against him by his allies that centered on Santiago’s initiative to improve lighting in the village by purchasing lamposts, with the approval of the barangay council, in sufficient quantity to ensure security. The case remained unresolved until it was brought to Malacañang when Santiago was eventually cleared of all charges over the issue. To many, Santiago was set up as fall guy. Thus, the next-in-line kagawad then, Ernesto Moya, became barangay chairman. Questions on Moya’s chairmanship started when Moya pushed the council to have a re-zoning ordinance that would effectively transfer control and authority of sizeable portions of San Lorenzo Village to the neighboring barangay, Bangkal. Moya with his allies had their way. Village residents opposed the move, questioning if all the fuss about street lamps was nothing but an elaborate smokescreen to sideline Santiago. Santa Banana, if it is, then it simply reveals a deft skill of misdirection which is a method commonly used by magicians to successfully perform a trick. It involved using drawing attention to an engineered spectacle with one hand, in order to conceal what’s truly going on with the other hand. Crafty politicians and “trapos” have picked up and even perfected this maneuver. There’s now this project to set up CCTV cameras across the village and was approved without any details where they would be installed. My gulay, at a price tag of P6 million, one can only wonder if these CCTV cameras were hand-made by an Italian sculptor. There’s also this P17 million that was approved on the renovation work on the San Lorenco Barangay hall that raised eyebrows, followed by a P5 million for a rusty second-hand container van fashioned into a makeshift office. Santa Banana, that is magic!
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