May 22, 2024

The recent remarks of Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta about Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s fight against corruption to promote good governance should shift from simply throwing shades, to implementing concrete actions.
By concrete actions, we mean measures must be put in place to stop the offense even before it is committed. Proving corruption is tough because no one will admit to a wrongdoing.
This means that fighting corruption must not end with political leaders declaring in public their crusade against corruption but they must back their words with actions.
In a privilege speech, Marcoleta has called out Magalong and reminded him to reexamine his battle cry on good governance because the circumstances surrounding Baguio do not show a city being governed under a clean government.
To prove his claim, Marcoleta disclosed the adverse findings of the Commission on Audit that showed how the city government spent or withheld public funds to the disadvantage of the supposed beneficiaries.
The adverse findings include the disallowed deposit of allocated funds in a time deposit account, unaccounted donations for the Covid-19 response, the recent diversion of funds for the construction of the Athletic Bowl youth center, and the delayed or non-implementation of projects since 2019.
Of course, the adverse COA findings do not automatically mean corruption was committed in the implementation of the projects, most of which are infrastructure programs. The findings, however, show there are lapses on how city government handles public money.
Another outrageous claim that made a dent on Magalong’s good governance crusade is the existence of illegal gambling activities that continue to persist despite their proximity to the city’s seat of power.
Marcoleta’s speech in Congress about the status of project implementation in Baguio, among other issues, is a wakeup not only for political leaders, but most especially for the public to whom these projects are implemented for.
If a non-resident is able to point out the problems in the implementation of projects and the existence of a social problem, such as gambling, in the city, why can’t the residents who are directly affected by these concerns do the same?
On the other hand, we hope that Marcoleta’s disclosure of the problems affecting Baguio under Magalong’s administration is a product of his genuine concern for the city and its people, and not just done for political grandstanding.
This is why we call on both political leaders to initiate measures on how corruption could be curbed. We have witnessed in the past how politicians who are at odds with each other have been good at exposing the other party’s wrongdoings, but only to protect or advance their personal interests, and not that of the public.
As stated in the past, the fight against graft and corruption stands as one of the most pivotal battles political leaders must collectively wage.
This, as corruption corrodes the very fabric of society, undermining trust in institutions, jeopardizing economic growth, and eroding the principles of justice and equality. To safeguard the future and promote good governance, our leaders must unite in combating this menace.
This time, we hope actions will be undertaken to address the concerns raised by a member of Congress against the city government.
Otherwise, we will treat it as just another form of public entertainment – good only when it is being performed and does nothing to advance good governance and public interest.