By Jun Ledesma

Shame and scandal in Davao del Norte

December 29, 2021, 8:42 pm

A BUDGET for snacks amounting to ₱32-million pesos in the midst of a pandemic is not only cruel but outrageous! That translates to about ₱88,000 per day to include Saturdays and Sundays or ₱122,000 daily if you exclude the weekends. Now if that is not cruelty and brazenly immoral I do not know what that is. The Partido Reporma-controlled Provincial Board of Davao del Norte  think it is not. On the other hand in another display of insensitivity, they approved a paltry sum of ₱12-million for the provincial health budget. 

Any way you look at this Provincial Capitol budgetary allocation for entertainment it speaks of how depraved are the political leaders Davao del Norte have become. For where in the world will the most hospitable government spend that sum for “merienda”.  Some people say it is gluttony while others say it does not go to the stomach but to the campaign kitty.  

Wonder if the Commission on Audit is up to its task. The last time that hundreds of millions of pesos were spent on a farm-to-market road in Magdum, Tagum City in Davao del Norte COA closed its eye over its own blaring billboard that says the money is for Maharlika National Highway.  The road in fact is not going to any farm because much of the area is forested. On the other hand, it ended adjacent to the private property of somebody’s paramour. 

This will strike two for COA but with this scandalous amount and where the money is intended for I hope that the agency can redeem itself not only by raising the red flag but deter it all together.  Gov. Edwin Jubahib, the Secretary-General of Partido Reporma, has a lot of explaining to do. 

Partido Reporma which was unabashedly bannered by Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto as the ruling party in Davao Region has lost control of vote-rich Tagum City in District 1 and therefore is crucial to the fate of the party.  Vice Gov. Rey Uy parted ways with Rep. Bebot Alvarez when the latter revived Partido Reporma and mounted a vicious attack on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. Tristan “Bong” Aala, one-time city councilor and President of the Philippine Councilors League and hails from the biggest barangay in Tagum is running for Congressman in the 1st District of Davao del Norte.  His family donated the huge track of land where the provincial government buildings now stand. Presently he is giving Bebot a run for his money.

The fate of Alvarez hinges on the estimated 160,000 voters in Tagum. This capital was his in the 2019 elections. Come May 2022 he is facing a bleak prospect. You add up to about 37,000 registered voters in Asuncion which did not go for Alvarez in 2019 and you have a situation where the former Speaker will really have to sweat it out.  In all the total estimated voters of Tagum and Asuncion will exceed the total numbers of voters in the remaining strongholds of Alvarez by about 80,000. That is almost insurmountable. 

Popularly known as “CO”, Vice Governor Uy who has filed his candidacy for mayor in the capital town is the early favorite in the race. Twenty out of 23 barangay captains of Tagum joined him under the banner of HnP. His son, Oyo who had been managing the business conglomerate of the Uy brothers, is now running for Vice Governor of the province. In District 2, Congressman Alan Dujali had long quit the band of Alvarez and had set up a strong organization for HnP. 

Sr. Board Member Roy Catalan faces incumbent Governor Jubahib who is backed up by oodles of campaign funds. The governor must have felt the pinch that after nearly three years in office the provincial government gave favored barangay captains in the province brand new motorcycles each costing ₱120,000 for Christmas. These and the scandalous ₱32-million for merienda is something to reckon with.  I doubt moreover whether these expenses will be appreciated by the electorates of Davao del Norte who would rather have “ayuda” than merienda for the governor’s guests and expensive motorcycles to lure the kapitans

But look, the Department of Interior and Local Government is not amused with the way  Governor Jubahib is managing the resources of the province. The Local Governance Performance Management Division gave all provinces in Davao Region a passing mark in Financial Housekeeping except Davao del Norte. Among the six cities in the region, Tagum and Panabo of Davao del Norte also failed the standard. Mayors Alan Rellon of Tagum and Jose Relampagos of Panabo are Partido Reporma members. 

The LGPMD gave all  11 Davao de Oro towns, 10 towns of Davao Oriental and all nine towns of Davao del Sur passing marks. 

In Davao del Norte only five made it, namely Carmen, Braulio Dujali, Santo Tomas, New Corilla, and San Isidro while in Davao Occidental only Don Marcelino and Malita towns passed. 

HnP chair Mayor Inday Sara, who at this stage, is leading in all Vice Presidential surveys, had vowed to join the rallies of her HnP bets a commitment which will have a strong impact in Davao del Norte,  once the stronghold but now the shaky bastion of an equally moribund Partido Reporma


About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.