Devious pols suck EDSA’s gains
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - February 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Exactly thirty three years ago, the world poured its admiration and praises to our country for a successful bloodless revolution, the EDSA revolt. It was a drastic change and so positive. It was a moment when the world’s media outfits carried our story to the hilt with so much commendations.

In us, it could have been used as a launching pad to propel our economy to greater heights and liberate our countrymen who were mired in abject poverty. Sadly, however, their agonizing existence persists. If there was a change, it was for the worse.

Today, we still hug the headlines. Yes, but for unpalatable reasons and incidents.  For instance, the past decade alone had been marked with unforgiving catastrophes, endless banditries, notorious kidnappings, ruthless killings and senseless bombings even in places of worship. If there is a consolation, it is on the fact that these tragedies also brought about the best character in most of us, generosity.

Dejectedly though, some traditional or devious politicians took advantage of our brethren’s misfortune by letting the voting population know of their superficial concerns through massive exploitation of photo opportunities.

True enough, devious politicians blame all tragedies, natural or man-made, that came our way as the main culprit of our worsening poverty incidences. Agreeably, tragedies wear us down. Yes, albeit, temporarily. Supposedly, as reconstruction begins, opportunities will also come our way. There shall be more economic activities as demand for construction materials rise and more laborers are hired. However, we say, supposedly, because as reconstruction begins, we have more reasons to worry.

For one, it is a known fact that politicians wield so much power especially in the countryside. Most of them are astute businessmen too. They own types of business establishments that heavily deal with the needs of both national and local governments. These are mostly construction related like hardware and sand and gravel. Also, most local government units (LGUs) have heavy equipment so they (politicians) are opening gas stations as well. With the LGUs’ Bids and Awards Committees (BACs) under their total control and co-bidders downright cohorts, they’ll surely win, albeit, under cover of their distant relatives’ or close friends’ names. On the other hand, some LGUs would prefer to engage contractors instead of undertaking the projects themselves. To this, we know, some politicians do have their own construction outfits too. Thus, in both circumstances, the possibility that biddings will be rigged is very high.

Lest we forget, on a bigger scale, devious politicians are in it too. To recall, sometime in 2008, the country was in the limelight when the World Bank (WB) released debilitating news about the debarment of seven firms and an individual for “engaging in collusive practices under a major WB-financed roads project in the Philippines”. As concluded, most of our contractors were indeed cartelizing the bidding process of government projects. Sadly, had it not been for the WB, majority of the Filipinos should not have heard about these projects.

Certainly, cartel begets overpricing. Cartel, however, wouldn’t be successful without the blessings of those in power. So that, if we should recall the case of Janet L. Napoles, some lawmakers, as alleged by the whistleblowers, colluded to siphon taxpayers’ money. Apparently, with these businessmen (like JLN and some contractors) who are willing to bribe pairing with our politicians who are looking for ways to recover every penny spent (during elections) and accumulate even more, honest biddings will never happen.

As usual, they shall be active participants in a collusive scheme designed to establish bid prices at artificial and non-competitive levels. Consequently, they deprived us the benefits of free and open competition and/or transparency in the conduct of these transactions. As a result, the poorest of the poor who are really wanting that much needed economic boost continue to suffer.

Obviously, devious politicians made their elective positions their businesses or livelihoods to bank on. Thus, just like any businesses, they pass it on to their future generations.  Unlike privately owned businesses, however, their hold to such filthy inheritances is perpetuated at our expense.

Worse, as devious politicians and their cohorts (cronies and relatives) deceitfully siphon money from the government’s treasury through illegitimate deals, the economy is starved with it. Therefore, let us not give them the opportunity to eternally stay and be in a position to steal conveniently and conceal perpetually.

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