20 March 2007

Politics again trumps sanity

A FUNNY, SAD thing happened in the ongoing workshop called by the NEDA Regional Office in Legazpi City to refine the Bicol Rehabilitation Plan which I blogged about here and here. I am already writing this post since my part is practically done before the lunchtime break; the other LGU participants are still wheeling around the regional line agencies in the conference room.

I sat with the group consisting of line departments that have firm funding support under the P5.025-billion kitty approved by Congress. After consulting with the Department of Health representative, it was the DPWH's turn. The agency's lady rep was very patient, accommodating and quite forthcoming.

"Are the projects listed here already final?" I asked.

"More or less," she said.

After going through the list, I said: "There's nothing on Naga here."

"That was based on the damage report submitted to us by the Second Engineering District. Maybe the national roads in your place did not really suffer much damage." Thinking back, maybe she's right; it actually was a left-handed compliment to the quality of roads built there by the DPWH, although I did not press her about the big difference between city government estimates, which is substantially lower than that of the DPWH.

"Your list also does not include a single project for the 4th District of Camarines Sur. Do you mean to tell me Super Typhoon Reming did not hit the Partido area?" Reming, it will be recalled, entered Luzon via Tiwi, Albay, which is just adjacent to Sagnay and the district.

"We're only doing what we were told," was the excuse she gave. Who did the telling, she did not explain. But the list actually supplied the answer: the congressional districts of the pro-Arroyo representatives expectedly got the lion's share -- Lagman, Salceda, Villafuerte, Alfelor and Andaya. That it's payback time is as clear as the light of day.

The big loser, aside from Naga, is that district of former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella -- the Villafuertes' traditional rival since the turn of the 20th century -- which got zilch, zero, nada. What adds insult to injury is this entry in Wikipedia on the congressional districts of Camarines Sur that brands him "corrupt" and his son "corrupt bakla." As if their fellow contemporary politicians are as clean as snow in our benighted land, and now Asia's most corrupt according to the PERC.