Thursday, September 27, 2007

Confused over my BDF

When I was elected board member, I knew that what I learned about local government, public officers and admininstrative law in law school and what actually transpires in real life would be different. But I thought I knew what they were and that I was prepared for it. I knew there were obstacles but I thought I could avoid or go around them. I thought wrong.

This will probably get me in trouble, but i just want to vent out my confusion and frustration.

I signed up to be a local legislator. When i campaigned thats what i told my constituents. "I am a lawyer, vote for me because you need a lawyer in drafting ordinances and resolutions."

I did not sign up to be an engineer, a contractor and/or a project builder. That's the Executive side--the Governor and Mayors. Not my concern. That's written in the Local Government Code.

But as I said, what I learned in law school and what actually transpires in government life are not the same.

Board members, like Congressmen, are given our share of the pork barrel, albeit at a more miniscule amount---way, way smaller.

Congressmen are allocated the Priority Development Aid Fund (tama ba?) or PDAF. Board members receive Barangay Development Fund or BDF.

Kung pwe-pwede lang isosoli ko yung allocation ko kasi nga ayokong gumawa ng project, just like what Senators Lacson and Arroyo did. Pero gaya na sinabi ni Senator Santiago, useless din yun kasi na-appropriate na yung pera. Kelangan gamitin.


For this year (July-December 2007), 350k was allocated per district. Maliit yung amount. pang-barangay development talaga.

Upon the funds release, dozens of requests and resolutions reached my office asking for:

1. 100 bags of portland cement

2. jetmatic water pump

3. monobloc chairs

4. grasscutter

5. tent

6. books

7. even a covered court

at 350k? are you serious?

Anyhow, i didn't immediately grant any of these requests. Instead I focused on my campaign promise of giving priority to education and jobs.

I allocated 60k to sponsor one teacher in a public elementary school that was in dire need of one. This was facilitated under the Saguip Maestra Project of the Provincial Government.

Next, I allocated 50k in TESDA scholarships because I believe that the job demand is for vocational and technical course graduates.

That left me with 240k. Now the confusion and frustration begins.

First, cement. Outside, one bag of cement would cost between P180-P190. Fine. So I had my secretary prepare the documents to purchase those goods. Only to find out that price is different in government projects.


It's true. Under the Government Procurement Act, government projects undergo competitive bidding and are awarded to the LOWEST BIDDER.

So here I was expecting a much lower amount. P150? P160 siguro.

Lo and behold, "government price" is P235/bag!


C'mon, man! Nagbibiruan ba tayo?

To make matters worse, it would take 41 days to process the request. That means If I request today, sa November pa made-deliver yung semento.

Aynaky, stop! stop muna yung cement requests na yan. pag-iisipan ko pa. Lugi kasi ako eh. Eh I want to maximize my 240k.

A colleague of mine suggested that I try alternative mode of procurement, which is reimbursement. As long as maliit lang yung amount involved, pwede magpa-reimburse. So akala ko maiiwasan ko yung what I felt was overpricing by doing the reimbursement thing. boy, was I wrong.

For another project, I spent 10,000 for paint to renovate the trophy room of the province's sports office. I had my staff collect all the official receipts. I had my secretary prepare the necessary papers to bill my BDF. Akala ko naisahan ko yung sistema na walang "government price."

Lo and behold, my secretary came back and told me that we had to go back to the paint shop and ask them for receipts with the "government price."

WHAAAT? There's no escaping them!

So I inquired, what is the "government price." Take note, I was expecting a lower price.

HAHAHAHA! How naive of me.

Let's take for example a gallon of latex paint with a SRP of P450. the "government price?" P650!

So, yung 10,000 na ginastos ko, pag-ni-recompute mo in "government price" would total P13,000!

P13,000 deducted from my remaining 240k! eh dapat 10k lang yun. Eh di nawalan tuloy ako ng 3,000. Saan napunta yun? and more important, bakit ganun? di ba dapat LOWEST POSSIBE PRICE? Bakit lalong nagmahal?

Kaya ako dazed and confused.

ps: bato bato sa langit, ang tamaan wag magalit. walang personalan. naglalabas lang ng sama ng loob.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dapat lang

Trillanes to miss sessions

The Makati City Regional Trial Court yesterday threw out the last-ditch effort of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to attend sessions in the Senate.

In denying the neophyte lawmaker’s pleading to join his collegues in the Upper Chamber, Judge Oscar Pimentel said he remained unpersuaded to allow him to leave detention.

“The court finds no justifiable and convincing reasons to grant the motion for reconsideration. For lack of merit, the motion for reconsideration is hereby denied,” ordered the 11-page ruling.

Trillanes filed his appeal last month, a few weeks after the court junked his petition to post bail and leave the Marine Brigade in Fort Bonifacio during the Senate’s session days.

But Pimentel was quick to stress that Trillanes was not being kept from his work as a duly elected legislator.

“What the court is not permitting is for the accused to leave his detention cell to attend sessions at the Senate and to attend official functions which may require him to leave his place of detention almost every day. The accused may perform his duties subject to limitations of being a detention prisoner.”

Pimentel said neither could Trillanes set up a personal office in his detention cell and have his staff hold office there.

He also noted that the detained senator erred in arguing that that the rape case of convicted former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos was inapplicable to his coup d’etat charge.

“When Congressman Jalosjos was elected, he was still considered a detention prisoner because his case is still under appeal with the Supreme Court. The only difference between Jalosjos and Trillanes is that Senator Trillanes is still undergoing trial,” said Pimentel.

The high tribunal, which the Makati court used as basis in its own ruling, had prohibited Jalosjos from leaving his prison cell to perform his congressional duties.

Saying Trillanes was a detention prisoner, Pimentel said his “personal liberty is under restraint, his movements from place to place are likewise under restriction, his power of locomotion is denied not by the court, but by law” and the presumption of innocence did not carry with it his enjoyment of full civil rights.

The former naval officer can propose bills and do other legislative functions even if he is being held inside Fort Bonifacio, according to Pimentel.

“If he was able to campaign while under detention, the more that he can perform his duties as a senator considering that he now has his office in the Senate.”

Trillanes is among the alleged core leaders of the Magdalo faction of 31 junior military officers who led about 300 soldiers in a short-lived mutiny at the Oakwood Premier Hotel in Makati City on July 27, 2003. Ferdinand Fabella

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

From the desk of...

picture of me at my desk in my Laoag office

Monday, September 17, 2007

Convenient CebuPac

Whenever I travel to and fro Laoag, I usually take the Cebu Pacific Airbus. Its relatively affordable and I get to my destination in an hour.

If i take the car, I would have to shell out 1,500 for gas. Another 300 for toll. And 200 for the merienda of the driver. Thats 2,000, not to mention the added wear-and-tear to the vehicle. Pluse, it takes 9 hours.

Suppose I take the bus. For a deluxe aircon bus, it would cost 750. cheaper, yes, but travel by bus is slower, so you'd reach Laoag after 10 hours.

With Cebu Pacific, I spend 900 for a one-way trip. Only a couple of hundred pesos more than via bus, but with shorter travel time. Just 50 minutes!

For me, sulit ang mag-cebu-pac. Thats if you don't mind travelling mid-day.

And so, Mr John and Mr Lance, thank you very much for Cebu Pacific. Thank you for servicing the Manila-Laoag route!

Now if I could only win in the "bring me" games...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Who's out of shape?

After several months of softball hiatus, I took the field today as an outfielder for my team in a slo-pitch tournament. Prior this game, I did not practice. In fact, I haven't trained in a long long time.

I thought it would be a walk in the park. its slo-pitch softball for chrissake. Kayang-kaya.

After the first inning, I felt so tired already. the first inning! My gawd, tumatanda na talaga ako. Ni hindi man lang ako makatungtong sa first base. You see, I've always been a crap hitter. Ever since ILLAM and UAAP days, bano ako sa hitting. Pero kahit grounder lang kaya ko, umaabot pa ako ng first base. Kasi nga mabilis akong mag-sprint. Yun na nga lang contribution ko. Wala na. Ang bagal-bagal ko na. Pagkatapos tumapak ng base, hingal na ako ng hingal.

Tapos naka-teammate ko pa si John Estrada, who I think was playing his first slo-pitch game. And he was doing better than I was. Way better. I mean the guy didn't hit a homerun or anything, but I think he got on base.

In the end, our team lost the first game, 11-0, and the second game, 7-1. I didn't reach base at all. And, I got hit in the balls.

Who's out of shape?

I am.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Grade 4 for a day

Yesterday, I went to San Agustin Elementary School in the town of Bacarra, to spend the day observing what transpires in a public elementary school here in the province. This is part of my self-imposed one-day immersion program so that I can better perform as a local policymaker. I believe getting the worm's eye view will help me appreciate the factual circumstances when I defend, decide and vote on the budget of the different sectors.

I was there at the start of the school day, right after the flag ceremony. I spoke with the Principal, Mrs. Acoba, and she assigned me to Grade 4. I entered the class of Mrs. Sales. She didn't know I was going to observe. She later told me that she was nervous. I told her not to, since I didn't represent DepEd. I was there merely to observe the day-to-day activities of a public school teacher.

So, back to the story, the students stood up and greeted me a good morning. I told them what i was doing and for them to continue what they were doing. First period was English. They sang a song. And then the teacher started the lesson. It was on how to use the dictionary. Afterwards, she organized an activity, so that the students would better understand the lesson. To test if the kids did get it, Mrs. Sales gave them a quiz. They checked it themselves right after. The scores would gauge if the class understood the lesson. If majority passed, then it was okay. if majority didn't, then the teacher would have to reteach. Afterwards, Mrs. Sales gave the class homework.

Next class was Makabayan (EPP). They sang again. This subject's lesson for today was about home improvement, how to fix broken furniture at home. And then the same scenario again. Activity (group work), Quiz and Homework.

Tapos Math naman. Kantahan uli. The lesson was on estimating. same scenario nanaman. All this time, nakatayo yung teacher.

And then Makabayan (Art).

All this time, the same teacher! whoah. The same teacher taught English, Makabayan and Math! To those of you not surprised, the reason why this comes as a shocker to me is because I didn't go to a public school. So, I don't know ganito pala sitwasyon ng mga public elementary teachers. In Xavier, as early as grade 1, iba ang teacher namin sa english, iba sa math.

Had lunch. Went back to class at 1pm. Mrs. Sales taught Filipino. Kantahan nanaman (I guess para maganahan mga students). same procedure. I would sometimes participate in the discussion by feeding answers to the students. During the quiz, I would walk around to check their answers. I also noticed that the girls were more participative than the boys. The three brightest students were all females. I whispered to the boys, "Go boys! 'wag kayo magpatalo sa girls!" To no avail.

Next class was Makabayan. The lesson was on the environment. Kulang sila sa textbooks. 1 book per 4 students. we need to give them books.

And then Science. Of all days, I ended up when they were discussing fertilization. when the sperm cell meets up with the egg cell. giggle sila lahat, sabay tingin sa akin. ako tuloy nahiya.

Again, all this time, one and the same teacher. Mrs. Sales had no break, except for the short recess in the morning and lunch.

If we were in a manila private school, this would be an unfair labor practice.

Saludo ako sa kanila. Mabuhay ang mga pampublikong guro!

Mrs. Sales ended class with a song. The students stood up. We prayed. Later, they said good bye. Mrs. Sales sent them out to do their chores (i.e. clean up). I had a post-conference with the teacher and the principal. i thanked them for accomodating me.

We ended the day with the flag retreat.

I went home at 5pm. even if all i did was observe, napagod din ako.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Blaming the Dutch

Manila Standard Today editorial on the mass action against the dutch government. This is found in the paper's 31 August 2007 edition. For the on-line version, its:


Dutch retreat

IT is instructive to watch how quickly Philippine leftist groups have turned against the Dutch people and their elected government.

After Dutch police arrested their ideological leader, Jose Ma. Sison, earlier this week in Utrecht, The Netherlands could do no right—according to the Left.

Never mind that the arrest stemmed from legitimate complaints filed by the widows of two of Sison’s former comrades who had been assassinated by the New People’s Army.

Forget, too, that the Dutch have provided refuge for Sison, his wife and his colleagues for two decades. During these 20 years, Sison lived it up in the safety of Utrecht while his wife collected welfare checks from the Dutch government. Sison’s own blog is full of photographs showing him at parties—hardly a difficult existence for a political refugee.

But immediately after Sison’s arrest, his colleague, National Democratic Front chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni—who also enjoys Dutch hospitality in Utrecht—condemned The Netherlands and accused its government of conspiring with Manila to deprive the communist leader of his rights.

Sison’s colleague also accused the Dutch authorities of the “utmost treachery and deceit” in the way they arrested him.

The National Democratic Front statement also excoriated the raids on Sison’s and his colleagues’ apartments and offices, accusing Dutch police of uncivilized behavior.

Strangely enough, these same leftists had no problem with Dutch civilization for the last 20 years. Now, it seems, all that has changed.

In Filipino culture, which puts a high premium on hospitality, nobody likes a house guest who badmouths his host. In their Dutch retreat this week, the leftists are showing exactly what kind of ingrates they can be.