By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star
Finding a suitable replacement for the late Jesse Robredo is tough. This, even if many are being floated as next Secretary of Interior and Local Governments. Like, Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, ex-governor Grace Padaca, and Davao City vice mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
To excite the search, I humbly add, though without his go-ahead, San Fernando City mayor Oscar Rodriguez.
Like Jesse, Ka Oca is straight as an arrow, a quiet worker, and visionary. He has been a reformist since youth, and was a human rights lawyer. Widely experienced, he was once congressman, Central Luzon leader post-Pinatubo disaster, Pampanga provincial administrator, and court stenographer. As present League of Cities president, he focuses on the member-mayors’ sharing of best practices in good governance.
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Agencies under the Department of Justice (DOJ) are a mess.
At the Bureau of Immigration (BI) two agents facilitated the escape abroad of the wanted Reyes politician-brothers. Accused of murdering a broadcaster in January 2011, Palawan ex-governor Joel and Coron mayor Mario have P2-million prices on their heads. President Noynoy Aquino no less has been criticizing lawmen for failing to get them. It now turns out, from a source, that the BI agents had spirited them out of the well-guarded Manila airport last March. They must have been paid higher than the reward money to aid and abet the getaway.
To think that the BI is the lead agency in the anti-human trafficking drive. It brags to offload up to 400 Filipino travelers each day at international airports in the name of saving them from certain abuse by overseas employers. Yet asked how many cases it has filed out of the tens of thousands of illegal-recruitment victims it has offloaded, the BI can count only three-dozen. It sniffs out the “trafficked” by profiling those who look provincial: dark-skinned, flat nosed, dowdily dressed. The subjective rules are likely to lead to abuses. Travel and job agents have complained about wrongful bump-offs and extortion. The BI refuses to identify the “trafficked” because (conveniently) forbidden by law. It has not bothered to help the victims get refunds of airline tickets, travel tax, and airport terminal fees.
The BI proclaims itself to be so adept at curbing human trafficking. Yet its hotline is unmanned, as senators found out for themselves while hearing Wednesday its P100-million anti-trafficking budget for 2013.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), meanwhile, has failed to collar other well-known fugitives. It attributes to their prowess at disguise its inability to find ex-congressmen Jovito Palparan and Ruben Ecleo, and multibillion-peso housing scammer Delfin Lee. The NBI was headless for months, its director linked to “hulidap” (false arrest for extortion) and frustrated killing of a deputy. The agency is deteriorating, with agents busting girlie bars instead of crime syndicates.
Speaking of hulidap, it’s normal treatment at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) for spouses of rich convicts. Insiders set up the wives to smuggle drugs or weapons into prisons. Nabbed, the latter are released only after paying ransom.
The Aquino administration’s first BuCor chief was sacked for the frequent sneak-outs of infamous murder convict, ex-governor Antonio Leviste. The successor recently went on leave, when another notorious murderer, Rolito Go, disappeared, then returned claiming to have been kidnapped. The two incidents happened at the Bilibid main penitentiary in Metro Manila, so it’s the warden who should have been sacked. But it turned out this week that 70 prisoners on average escape each year from all penal colonies nationwide. Meaning, the mess truly is BuCor-wide.
A fourth agency under the DOJ has been committing fiasco after fiasco. The National Prosecution Service was taken aback when first ex-president Gloria Arroyo, then Comelec ex-chairman Benjamin Abalos were granted bail. They are charged with non-bailable electoral fraud, but wangled bail nonetheless because the court found weak evidence during preliminary hearings. The NPS prosecutors insist that they presented airtight cases, but their Comelec counterparts say otherwise.
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For government officials, civic leaders, and engineers tired of recurring floods and other disasters:
Urban planner Arch. Felino Palafox Jr. will lecture this morning, 9-11, on “Vertical Urbanism” and “Adaptive Architecture Zoning Overlay to Address Flooding.” Venue: Richmond Hotel, Eastwood, Libis, Quezon City, sponsored by Mayor Herbert Bautista.
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You definitely must watch PETA’s stage adaptation of Bona, the 1980 Nora Aunor classic. Billed as a “dramedy,” its directing is signature Soxie Topacio: half comedy, half drama, both to the max.
In the film directed by National Artist Lino Brocka, Aunor portrayed a schoolgirl die-hard fan of a wannabe actor (played by Philip Salvador). The role won Aunor the Urian best actress award, and Brocka added acclaim in Cannes. Bona is listed among the 100 Best Films of the World by The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
To minimize comparison, the stage version has the star-struck Bona as more empowered: financially independent and supporting her extended family. Eugene Domingo in the lead role guarantees the laughs and sighs.
Showtime: Fridays to Sundays at 8 p.m., with weekend matinees at 3 p.m., till September 23; at the PETA Theater, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, QC; (02) 7256244, (0917) 5765400; www.petatheater.com.
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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., on DWIZ (882-AM).