"If I were these individuals, I would be very careful."
Information has it that the government’s principal watchdog in the implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Law, the Civil Service Commission, is in itself mired in monumental red tape.
The commission en banc, which is supposed to meet every week, has apparently not met in months delaying action on very important official matters involving many current and retired government officials. The reason appears to be that the two associate commissioners who were appointed by the current administration are engaged in an asymmetric war with the chairperson of the commission who was appointed by the last administration.
It does not seem to be an open warfare, but it is war nonetheless. The three top officials of the commission are apparently not on talking terms. Even with so many complaints being received, commission work continues to move slowly, if at all. Obviously, this kind of situation cannot go on any longer. Otherwise, one of the signature programs of the President which he is very passionate about will suffer.
The tenure of the head of the commission is guaranteed by law but if the conflict continues the way it is, something will have to give. Either the chairperson of the commission or the two associate commissioners will have to go. With the way things stand, it is hard to see the appointees of the current administration leaving their posts notwithstanding the fact that the tenure of the current chairperson is protected.
Information coming from inside the commission has it that the current chairperson is a true-blue supporter of the last administration. She was an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development under Dinky Soliman and used to manage the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Whether the CSC was given to her as a reward for a job well done is anybody’s guess but right now, the CSC is below standard and needs someone to get it moving if the agency wants to maintain its credibility as the watchdog in implementing the Anti-Red Tape Law. It is not known whether the President is aware of the CSC situation but if I were those warring individuals, I would watch out because if they do not, and the President finds out about what they are doing, they would be gone in no time at all regardless whether their tenure is protected or not.
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The rehabilitation of Baguio City appears to be really under serious consideration by the national government. According to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, it would take three years or more to rehabilitate Baguio City due to the amount of environmental degradation that the city has suffered in its over 100 years of existence. The rehabilitation of Boracay may have been a tremendous success, but it would pale in comparison to the Baguio problem. The Baguio rehab will almost certainly take a lot longer. Clearing the two river systems of the city of coliform alone will be a tough undertaking because of the thousands of houses built along the river banks that are using the water ways as an open sewer. Houses along the Balili and Bued rivers together with those along the creeks do not have septic tanks.
This is not the only problem. Rehabilitating the degraded tourist spots will also be a major undertaking. Mines View Park has been invaded by squatters and the sidewalks have all but disappeared, constricting the road. Wright Park also will have to be cleared of squatters. Mirador Hill, the Cathedral Loop and the Baden Powell will also need major clearing and rehabilitation. This is not to mention the work that needs to be done with the uncontrolled squatting on government reservations that is the major cause why pine trees are fast disappearing.
In a few more months, the mountain along Marcos highway will be full of houses. The Burnham Park area maybe a little easier to restore and bring back to its former glory but this will require professional planning. The park, even in its degraded state, is still the number one tourist draw of the city. This is the reason why it must be preserved at all costs.
Unfortunately, the area near the Baguio City High School is slowly being invaded by unwanted structures. This case is interesting and different considering that the few buildings are not houses but belong to the Lions Club. It started with one club house but now there are three. This began during the time of the late Mayor Luis Lardizabal when he allowed the construction of the first Lions Club building there because he was a member of the club. If the current city government will not look into this situation, before we know it, that area will be full of buildings. Since that is still part of the Burnham Park reservation, those buildings should all be demolished and restored as part of the park as it should be. Why should be the Lions Club be given any special treatment?
This goes to show how difficult the problem of the city is. Año did not mention the specific scope of the rehab program to be undertaken and the exact role of the local government. Will it just be rehabilitating the river system and the city government the implementor? But just knowing that the national government is seriously considering rehabilitating the city is encouragement enough to the city government, the residents and many tourists who flock to the city. It is time to restore Baguio as truly the summer capital of the country. It will be a huge undertaking but if the government can pull it off, that would be something.