Tuesday, 19 February 2008

"Inyong Alagad"


It’s a good thing to listen to Fred Araneta again, sharing the airtime with replacement anchor Chito Visarra in the all-time favourite DYRD radio program “Inyong Alagad”(Your Servant). I was on my way to work one Tuesday morning (19 February) and chanced upon the duo interviewing in their radio show Deputy Mayor Mario Uy and Vice Mayor Toto Veloso, discussing the recent suspension of operations of the “Botika sa Katawhan”(Public Pharmacy), an establishment that provides inexpensive medicines to poor clients in the city of Tagbilaran.

All the fuss started when city Councilor Zenaido Rama, interestingly not politically-aligned with City Mayor Dan Lim, questioned the operations of the said establishment managed by Lim’s strong ally, Deputy Mayor Uy, on the basis that its operations is “too politicized” and that “some of its beneficiaries do not qualify as indigents” (BC, 17 February 2008). In retaliation, Mayor Lim ordered the operations of the pharmacy suspended until such time that the allegations will be cleared in the city council.

Undoubtedly, the issue is controversial, especially for the beneficiaries of the said program and for those who believed that such a program should not be a victim of a war between political loyalties. Conversely, such an issue is also controversial for those who claimed to have been deprived of its services and those who think that it was indeed used to advance somebody else’s political interest.

On his part, Uy said that all he wanted to do was to realize his goal of being of service to the Tagbilaranons and the suspension ordered by Lim is not just a reaction to the political attacks in the city council but also to allow the processing of compliance requirements with the Bureau of Food and Drug. Veloso, on the other hand, interjected that the questions raised by Rama, his partymate, is a valid exercise of the oversight functions of the city council and all that he desired was to make public service more transparent and effective to the people.

I cringe at this hypocrisy. I shudder at the thought that this political bickering is done in the name of public service. I abhor the way that our “public officials” seem to treat all of us as ignorant, naïve, and numb individuals, unable to determine if all these senseless parade is devoid of political colour or not.


If there was one person worthy to say I am “Inyong Alagad” over that 10 minute discussion which seemed like the longest 10 minutes of my life, he would be, definitely, the original anchor of the show.

Monday, 18 February 2008

They Do Not Come Out in the Papers


It’s amazing why a few good things, though how phenomenal they are, do not get printed in our newspapers while all the mudslinging, dirty politics, and boxing matches do. It’s also quite spectacular why a public official who inaugurates a building gets full media treatment (read: words, sounds, and pictures) but not when a non-governmental organization was able to strengthen the livelihood of 536 rural poor households.

Last Friday (15 February), I presented an independent evaluation report on a project implemented by the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation in four Eskaya communities in the towns of Duero, Guindulman, Sierra Bullones, and Pilar and in 8 other barangays within Sierra Bullones. The project was successful in increasing the income of around 345 rural households, from below 2,000 monthly gross income to 2,500 and more. It also made possible the strengthening of 12 community associations, most of which currently have more than P70,000 of capital build up (from almost nothing) to continue their different livelihood projects.

The evaluation report concluded that the project has afforded beneficiary communities with the chances to increase income, improve well being, reduce vulnerability against livelihood shocks, achieve a certain degree of food security, and manage their resources sustainably. These opportunities could not have been made available to these communities without the project and may have taken a longer time to develop.

But news such like these do not come out in the papers. NGOs like SWCF do not have PR people who write news stories every week, and the media may have not regarded these as stories that sell. In print media, as it is elsewhere, there is always the marginalization of the people at the periphery, that their plight, much more their achievements, become virtually insignificant.