Corruption at LGU level behind inefficient pandemic response in Metro Manila

Boo Chanco’s call for Filipinos to “just work together” is nothing but a puff piece in disguise. Again, the pertinent question not asked is, what are the LGUs doing to address the problems of their constituents in the pandemic? This is the question Chanco conveniently sidesteps in aid of election puff taking the opportunity, instead, to plug you-know-who…

It is difficult to understand why the Duterte government’s response to private sector offers of help had been lukewarm. Working together is not only feasible, but like lugaw, essential.

Vice President Leni Robredo showed how this is done. She launched a mobile antigen testing program called “Swab Cab” in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.

VP Leni’s “Swab Cab” enables LGUs like Malabon to identify asymptomatic persons so they can be isolated and treated. This helps quell rising coronavirus cases in crowded communities.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that NCR+ would be hit by a second surge because of population density. Was the issue discussed by the Metro Manila Council which is composed of all the Mayors? In contact-tracing, isn’t it logical that they come up with a uniform contact-tracing app instead of trying to outdo each other by each local government unit (LGU) having its own? In testing, Marikina was one of the first with an RT-PCR lab. Shouldn’t this be the norm with LGUs throughout the country?

The same is true with social amelioration. The LGUs get a share of national revenues through the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). Why does it entirely fall on the national government to provide for this considering it doesn’t get a share of the LGUs revenues? The obvious answer is it’s an election year and the LGUs are essential in achieving victory. It’s also convenient to vilify the President since he still maintains high approval and trust ratings even if he only has 13 months left in his term.

If you want to know why LGUs can’t be more efficient, the answer is political patronage. The LGU heads cannot implement computerization because it would put a stop to the rackets protected by the subordinates who are powerful in their own right. This is also the reason why government is teeming with useless employees. Most of them are plantilla holders with the rank of Administrative Aide I and II. These are exempt from Civil Service eligibility but entitled to security of tenure and full benefits as provided for by all applicable laws. The Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is a joke. It just comes out with a series of circulars but there is no enforcement whatsoever. The same is true with the compulsory citizen’s charter.

I have been part of a public-private partnership effort in fintech and I can relate from experience that private sector flunkies are just the same as their public sector counterparts. There are an equal number of idiotic executives in the private sector which is why you see customers complaining on social media about customer service. It simply doesn’t exist. The appointment of Jun Evasco as Presidential Adviser on the Streamlining of Government Processes yesterday was again met with skepticism and sarcasm. With 13 months to go the usual opposition pundits claim it is a political accomodation. In the public sector the only way any job can get done is if you have the complete backing of your superior. The balance is in favor of those holding plantilla positions. You will be hit with black propaganda and white papers the minute you try to change the system which means they are in danger in their own comfort zones.

This is the real situation on the ground. While the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has its share of fuckups, the blame is not all on the President. What the opposition doesn’t realize is if this is what they want then we should abolish the Presidency altogether and just elect a national mayor for the country.

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