So we’re not the only ones who believe that appointing a “caretaker” (or undertaker as one of you wittily stated in the comments) has no basis in law. Read the write-up of Greg Taguiba below which also makes the same argument. (By the way, thanks to our tipster who alerted us about Greg’s article.)
As we said earlier, instead of proposing this caretaker nonsense, our officials should be working to ensure that a special election is held. Para naman marinig ang boses ng tao kung sino ang gusto nila.
Currently, we have some politicians pushing for the appointment of Baguio Rep. Domogan as the Mt. Province caretaker. Then, according to Greg’s article, “the camp of the late congressman is pushing for the appointment of Kalinga Rep. Manuel Agyao”. One of you also wrote here that Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa suggested Ifugao Rep. Solomon Chungalao as the caretaker. As things go, I think the only “non-biased, no hidden agenda” suggestion is the one that comes from the Benguet Congressman.
Still, the best thing to do really is to get the will of the people. Who do they want as their Congressional representative? Only an election will determine this. The problem with this “caretaker” nonsense is that once a “caretaker” is appointed, those who lobbied for his/her appointment will be less inclined to work for the holding of a special election.
So no to caretakers. Yes to a special election. Masapol adi ay boses nan ipugao nan madnge. Cha, owen man.
Self-serving public servants
by Gregory N. Taguiba
Sub-ang, Bontoc, Mountain Province
Some politicians in Mountain Province at the drop of a coin would readily barter away the fulfillment of their campaign promises for a pittance of cash or a semblance of self-importance.
Apparently, that’s how politics is played in this land of the “good” (gawis) and anywhere else in the region for that matter.
It is now common knowledge that the late congressman Victor S. Dominguez left a legacy of some P800 million worth of infrastructure projects in the form of budgetary “insertions” or “allocations” to fund the various phases of improvement of the Halsema Highway. This does not include the usual P70-M country development fund and the multi-million peso improvement of the Cervantes, Ilocos Sur to Mountain Province road.
Any politician worth his spurious vote knows the mathematics or percentage-sharing involved in the figure. The amount is indeed so staggering that these officials didn’t wait for the dead man to finally rest in peace before even doing things to partake of the spoils. The first thing they did was to come out with a resolution endorsing the designation of Baguio Rep. Mauricio Domogan to be “overseer” congressman for the newly orphaned province, blatantly lying in the process. They claimed that the endorsement was with the blessings of “other officials and other people from the private sector” and finally that it had the unanimous and strong recommendation of “local government officials and the majority of the people of Mountain Province.” Liars!
There never was a public consultation to justify their first claim, unless one considers the reported acquiescence of board members Ezra Gomez and Eufemia Lamen as a full measure of private sector or NGO affirmation. Their reference to “other officials” was also belied by the fact that the Provincial League of Municipal Mayors subsequently came out with its own resolution with a contradictory recommendation. Moreover, there never was a public consultation again to prove their claim of majority approval by the people, not with barely two days after the death of the solon and not even with the advance communication technology available. It was just impossible.
But what was conveniently ignored by these officials was to have been true to their mandate. Their first call should have been to work and lobby for the immediate conduct of a special election as what the law provides and as what they are authorized to do. Yet, they failed to appreciate the urgency of this responsibility given the limited time provided for the conduct of a special election, and instead opted for an alternative which does not only have a legal basis but is glaringly so self-serving.
Board member Gomez justified their resolution based on precedents, citing the Wahib Ahkbar case. He should have known that such precedent is not applicable because accordingly, the protest case of Jerry Salapuddin contesting congressional representation is still pending. And even then, precedents must still have basis in law otherwise they are outright illegal at most and highly questionable at the very least. There is no law enabling the delegation to Congress the power and authority of the people to choose their own representative in congress. Consequently, the practice of designating an overseer congressman is questionable as it robs people of the exercise of their fundamental right.
The concept of an overseer, therefore, can only be explained by what is obviously the advancement or preservation of interests by these officials and other people who are gung-ho over the designation of an overseer. And such interests are more than P800 M worth of projects.
Accordingly, the camp of the late congressman is pushing for the appointment of Kalinga Rep. Manuel Agyao presumably to protect and preserve the sanctity of the projects as originally conceived and programmed. On the other hand, Gov. Maximo Dalog and cohorts, who are busy knocking on wood for the designation of Domogan, are doing so based on similar motivations, believing that the Baguio solon is more pliable to their interests.
It is known that projects which are already programmed or even bid out can or may still be re-programmed and worse, can be realigned to favor the originally disfavored. But whether an overseer as proposed can effectively do the foregoing acts as a regular congressman can, is another matter altogether. Meantime, gawis ay Mountain Province tako amin.
Note: Greg’s article was originally published at the Baguio Midland Courier.