The recent developments in the political scene of the Philippines made me wonder and realized how fast things can get or how the government can act fast if they really wanted to. Unlike the services we experienced since time immemorial, the government in fact has been known to be as slow as a turtle and can get out of their office faster and swifter than 4PM.
Noynoy Aquino paved a straight road (daang matuwid, his favorite) to persecute people especially those with links to ex-President Gloria Arroyo and then Arroyo herself. Not that I am against Arroyo’s persecution and prosecution, I was just amazed at how fast Noynoy waves his hands and everything followed in magic. Legalities were done in just a few hours where it used to be centuries. It’s like having a miracle, Alleluiah!
Unlike what happened to my letter to the Municipality of Batuan, my hometown in Bohol.
Exactly two (2) months ago, October 6, 2011 to be exact, I sent a letter to Mayor Francisco Pepito and the members of the Sangguniang Bayan care of Municipal Vice Mayor Antonino Jumawid who happened to be on leave at that time, asking explanation on why the Official Website of the Municipality of Batuan, Bohol plagiarized several articles posted in the said website. The website I was talking about bears the Official Seal of the Municipality of Batuan, Bohol and blatantly copied the Vision of the Municipality of Calape, Bohol and the Messsage of the Mayor of the Municipality of Mabini. To make matters worse, Hillary Clinton’s picture was in the Mayor’s Message.
The supposed Message of Mayor Gregoria Pepito (who died long before her reelection came) which I copied from the website:
This is the official online portal of Mabini, (remember this is the official website of Batuan) the town, its government, and its people. Here you will find what promises to be Mabini's most comprehensive and authoritative one-stop informational clearinghouse on the net.
Facts and figures, news and features, details on and about Mabini in a consummately convenient compendium of instant and interactive content. Consider it your virtual guide to the municipality. Discover Mabini from its illustrious history to its unfolding story the splendor of its past, the dynamism of its present, and the promise of its future.
Learn about the Town and the gracious gifts of its geography. The municipality of Mabini and its many thriving barrios, its people, and its chosen leaders.
Experience the delightfully diverse boundless beauty and bustle that make up the colorful collage and the proud panorama that is Mabini.
Empower yourself: Make your mark and do your share in shaping the future of this, our vast and vibrant town: click on, sound off, be counted.
Finally, rich and colorful Calape (and then my town has shifted to another name) has found its home on the world wide web.We hope you find it as much your home as it is ours: warm, well, and worth it.
Fuming mad, I went to write the letter.
A few days later when I went home for a speaking engagement with the younger Batuanonons, Vice Mayor Jumawid approached me and talked about his development goals for our town but not even mentioning my letter. I pointed out to him about it and he told me he did not receive a copy of the said letter. (I sent him my letter a week after through his email address and got a long response after several technical glitches. I don't even believe it was an official response.)
Several of my neighbors who happened to be close to the mayor told me their own version of the things they did after receiving my official letter including the command to put the controversial website offline. I know their move was well-intentioned but still an official letter from a constituent deserved an official response from the municipal officials.
The supposed Vision of the Municipality of Batuan:Experience the delightfully diverse boundless beauty and bustle that make up the colorful collage and the proud panorama that is Calape. Empower yourself: Make your mark and do your share in shaping the future of this, our vast and vibrant town: click on, sound off, be counted. Finally, rich and colorful Calape has found its home on the world wide web. We hope you find it as much your home as it is ours: warm, well, and worth it.
Everyone told me the mayor was not even aware of the existence of that website, pity the mayor. He wanted somebody to call me but they could not find my magical business card. Magical in a sense since no one seemed to get hold my business card attached to the letter. Hence, nobody, not one, was able to contact me. Not counting that my parents and relatives are still very visible in my hometown.
For the information of my readers, I enclosed together with my two-page letter my business card and screen shots of the website I was referring to. But since my business card has some magic, nobody cared to call me up, send me text message or reply through my two (2) email addresses.
Now this is a very basic example of how SLOW government responses are. I was planning to make a follow-up letter but called it off. It would make no sense at all.
That is why I wonder how fast the people of Noynoy Aquino could do things in just a week’s time. And it was not just replying a letter.
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 6713 otherwise known as AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES, TO UPHOLD THE TIME-HONORED PRINCIPLE OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEING A PUBLIC TRUST, GRANTING INCENTIVES AND REWARDS FOR EXEMPLARY SERVICE, ENUMERATING PROHIBITED ACTS AND TRANSACTIONS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES states the Duties of Public Officials and Employees. - In the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are under obligation to:
(a) Act promptly on letters and requests. - All public officials and employees shall, within fifteen (15) working days from receipt thereof, respond to letters, telegrams or other means of communications sent by the public. The reply must contain the action taken on the request.
(d) Act immediately on the public's personal transactions. - All public officials and employees must attend to anyone who wants to avail himself of the services of their offices and must, at all times, act promptly and expeditiously.
Update: The website was taken down a week after I sent the letter, possibly a confirmation that they received it. Its address was- www.batuanbohol.solinog.com.