Media as watchdogs
Media as watchdogs PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 13:05

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

The office of the mighty president should tap the media — not Mocha or Chocolate — to keep a watch on how local officials are doing their jobs which will undoubtedly make it the business of each elected official to do their mandate truly, efficiently and honestly.

There was never a time when the local media were tapped to monitor projects under the once so-called community development program aimed at generating work opportunities and long-range projects to spur development in the rural areas — not the kind of projects that have slippages, are substandard and produces kickbacks for the initiators. Right now, the focus of the media are infrastructure projects smelling of abuse, graft-laden public works that fatten the pockets of politicians and not the economic boom that they’re meant to be.

Needless to say, the cooperation of the citizens can never be overemphasized. Even the Ombudsman, tasked to watch over the morals of public officials, would be useless without the help of the crusading media to assist him to prosecute the corrupt in government service.

A case in point was the controversial Jollibee establishment that was erected on a government property designated for a Puericulture center. A very simple law was applied by the plaintiffs that the property is beyond the commerce of men. Without the local media exposing the shenanigan, the principal signatories to the contract would have gotten away whistling a happy tune. The thieveries in ZAMCELCO years ago was another media exposé that led to the firing of its general manager and suspension of some of the members of the board.

It isn’t enough that complaints are aired on radio about misbehaving local government officials. Concrete evidence or direct testimonies of witnesses or complainants are needed for the prosecution of graft cases.

In this case, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should, together with the media, tap community leaders known for their spirited civic consciousness to participate in this endeavor in consonance with the avowed promise of El Presidente to rid the government of corruption and malpractices. This will ensure conscientious and effective performance by local officials.

Now, population.

What is the population of the independent highly-urbanized federal city of Zamboanga? We have had migrants pouring into the city — students, professionals, job-seekers (the good ones), and snatchers, thieves, home-invaders (the baddest kind). But migration isn’t the issue for this is a free city that tolerates even the morally unacceptable, disreputable businessmen and the vile.

In Zamboanga, population pressures are driving people to the barrios, the uplands, where land is cultivated at non-sustainable levels, trees are cut and the watershed denuded.

If not in the mountains, the rural poor move to the town proper stretching to the limit of the local government’s capacity to provide basic services to them. Lack of living space and shelter spawn slums and resulting problems of sanitation as well as law and order. (Or hasn’t the office of the mayor noticed it yet?) These are negative impacts on the environment.

Yes, we might have slowed down on pro-creating, but the influx of people from the provinces has reached a critical point that would make it difficult for the government, combined with the private sector, to feed, clothe and shelter the people.