Hon. Jessica Resch’s last- minute “official” travel

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

It’s no wonder many want the Sangguniang Kabataan abolished. It has lost its reason for being. Many SK officials haven’t distinguished themselves from common politicians. SK has killed idealism of countless youth.

Take the case of Cebu City SK Federation President Jessica Resch, who is bringing the members of her office staff on a trip to Singapore using public funds. Hayahay ang buhay! Sana all!

In her letter addressed to Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia asking for travel authority, Resch said that she and her staff will attend a “Cross-Border Leaning Session Towards a Singapore-like Cebu City” (what a play on words!) from July 19 to 22 to “gather knowledge and best practices on how to develop Cebu City into a livable and sustainable city drawing inspiration from the successful model of Singapore.”

“The expense incurred for this travel shall be chargeable against the SK Federation Account.” Aw, ‘matik na!

I have two concerns. First is why do all members of Resch’s staff have to be with her? Second, with a few months left to her term, what makes Resch expect she can still implement what she will learn?

A quick look at the list of staff will make you understand that their being part of the trip is unnecessary. It’s difficult to figure out how the presence of a job order personnel --with all due respect to all JO’s-- whose contract is renewable every three months can be justified.

Here’s the list: Angel Jet Alcuizar, admin aide I; Stella Marie Apao, job order; Jose Lou Bacunawa, senior admin assistant III; Kyle Genson, security agent II; Juvelyn Manayon, security agent I; Dwight Mozo, private secretary I; Dominic Nacua, admin aide IV; Mario Pabroa, executive assistant II; Clyde Ponce, job order; Kenneth Rafols, private secretary I; Jess Anthony Dela Cruz, executive assistant III; Fritz Sabell, executive assistant I; and Rose Ann Tangente, admin aide IV.

To be fair, I presume her staff are just following orders; meaning, if their boss tells them to go with her, there’s little they can do. This presumption, of course, is rebuttable.

After the trip, Resch is supposed to learn new things that she may apply in governance to advance the Singapore-like vision. But she has few months left. Therefore, she can’t get it implemented. She belongs to the legislative body, so it’s expected that she will pass resolutions ordinances relative to what she has learned. The same pieces of legislation will go to the executive department for implementation, if such get implemented at all. In other words, Resch has no more time.

Resch should end her term with honor and pride, instead of being remembered as a youth leader who used public funds for her itch to travel and for no justifiable public purpose at all. She still has time to reconsider, instead of allowing the scandal to taint any good thing she has with Cebu City’s youth.

I tried my best to get the side of Resch on this issue but to no avail. I learned that Vice Mayor Garcia will not grant travel authority to Resch and company. I just hope that Mayor Michael Rama can make a solomonic decision on the matter. I hope he could guide the youth in the right direction.

I am afraid this push for a “Singapore-like Cebu City” has become a blanket excuse to waste public funds. The problem on the part of Mayor Rama is that the same phrase may prove to be a curse that will frustrate his reelection. His critics will hammer on it day in and day out without letup to remind the public not only of the impracticability of the vision but also of the abuse that came with it.

By the way, let’s not also fool ourselves about all these lakbay-aral things. We know it’s generally used by public officials and employees who can’t ignore their itch to travel using public funds.

All areas have been explored in the name of lakbay-aral, from environmental concerns to graft and corruption, to management, etc. But look what happened to our country! Environmental destruction is everywhere, corruption continues to be rampant, and almost all government offices are mismanaged. So where have all the supposed lessons obtained during lakbay-aral gone?

The sad truth is they have no intention to learn.

People have the right to travel or take vacations. Life isn’t easy, so we need to remain balanced and sane. We can travel around the word if we wish. But to use public funds for this purpose is an entirely different story.

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