There is no low tide in the sea of lies that has inundated the Iloilo City government.
The City Council, as I predicted, approved the increase in real property values that would result in higher taxes for property owners effective January 1, 2015. The increase is an average of 30% across the board. It is supposed to generate an additional 55 million pesos in revenues to feed the hungry profligacy and extravagance of the Mabilog administration.
There is nothing we can do to stop it. We just have to bite the bullet and endure the heavier burden on our overstretched business and household budgets. The new tax measure is oppressive and tyrannical, but it is within the law.
But what makes me angry is the incessant bombardment of lies the people have been subjected to in imposing this tax burden on us. The Mabilog administration has jettisoned any semblance of honesty and integrity in bringing this about. The tragedy is that many Ilonggos are still swayed by these lies, and they are drowning in this sea without knowing it.
Have we forgotten altogether a need for honesty and integrity in government?
At the risk of being redundant, I must reiterate the issue about the profligacy and extravagance in the Mabilog administration’s fiscal (mis-) management. Much has been said over radio and printed in newspapers, but City Hall officials are just shrugging them off. This is not a trivial issue that can be treated lightly.
In his sponsorship speech for the passage of the new ordinance adopting the new schedule of property values, Councilor Plaridel C. Nava defended the Mabilog administration against criticism on its record in fiscal management. He made it appear that the issue revolves around political considerations, that those opposing the tax hike are personal enemies of the city mayor.
That is a cheap shot. Many of those who raised objections had little interest in politics. At most, their involvement in politics was in the casting of votes. Most even voted for Mabilog as city mayor. But this tactic employed by Nava is designed to lump everybody in the category of Mabilog’s political enemies, myself included. The purpose is obvious: Nava wants to trivialize the value of their objections.
However, this ploy fails to confront squarely the issue of profligate and extravagant spending. It doesn’t even to start to explain how Mabilog is taking care of public funds. It doesn’t have a definition of “profligate” and “extravagant”. How can we intelligently debate on this issue then? If Mabilog has a different definition of these words, maybe we can take off from there.
The other newspaper, Panay News, has run a series about the Executive Assistants in the employ of the Mabilog administration. All in all, the city government is paying them anywhere from P7.2 million to P10 million annually. Most, if not all, of these Executive Assistants do not perform any work in the name of public service. These are patronage appointments to reward them for political loyalty, not dedication to public service.
Now can anyone stand up and tell me this is not profligate and extravagant spending? I will challenge anyone from City Hall to debate with me on this issue. I am sure Aksyon Radyo Iloilo will graciously provide free air time for an intelligent debate on the matter.
There is so much dishonesty in the discussion of the city’s indebtedness and number of job hire personnel.
In his sponsorship speech, Nava said the figure of 5,000 for the number of job hires is exaggerated. He said it is “far less” than that number. But does he have the exact number? If he is saying 5,000 is inaccurate and exaggerated, what is the actual figure? Nava sheepishly confessed he does not know. He was only told that it is about 800.
It’s either Nava is a liar or was misled.
Aksyon Radyo Iloilo started a head-count in the different offices of City Hall and discovered that there are at least 2,700 job hires in the present payroll. That doesn’t include those contracts that are being kept buried away from public view. Do you remember that former job hire last year who exposed the existence of a “ghost employee” syndicate in City Hall using names of constituents to collect the payroll for job hires? Just do some quick math: multiply 1,000 job hire positions by P6,000 as monthly wages. That’s six million pesos stolen from us!
Can Nava now repeat what he said in his sponsorship speech? He is a lawyer, and yet he committed a cardinal sin when he made a contention with no evidence to back him up. The truth is slowly coming to the surface, and it is making him look like a court jester. I guess he was just parroting what his boss, Mabilog, ordered him to say.
It would be the greatest tragedy if Iloilo City will drown and die a natural death in this sea of lies. The truth is staring us in the face, and we continue to ignore it. The snake oil salesman is just too happy to mesmerize most of his constituency with more lies. His ploy has succeeded apparently.
Will this strategy founded on dishonesty last long?
No, it won’t. History is replete with examples of how tyrannies that rose upon the same foundations eventually came crashing down. In our case, the sea of lies will start to ebb and empty out into the annals of history as another case study of corrupt governments collapsing.