Brewing problems at the Iloilo capitol


It’s just been a little over 70 days since the current administration under Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. has been in office, but there are already perceptible cracks in the way he and his political allies are running the Iloilo Capitol. These are clear manifestations that things are not going well, and this early, even rank-and-file employees who usually shun making nasty comments are now criticizing the administration in loud whispers.

The slow movement of documents is one of the complaints being aired by Capitol employees. It takes two or three days before vouchers are acted upon, resulting in delays in the processing of financial claims. During the incumbency of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr., we spent precious time conducting “time-and-motion” studies to drastically reduce the time a voucher travels through the bureaucratic mill. We inherited a messy system from the previous administration that included hundreds of millions of pesos worth of unreconciled transactions in the province’s books of accounts. Vast improvements were made, including a document-tracking system to enable management to spot-check where a particular document is at a particular moment, and how long it stays in the desk of an employee handling it. It’s far from perfect, but we are proud about how much of the red tape we removed.

Now, the situation is backsliding, according to employees who view the situation with concern. That’s because the new management wants to impose its own brand of doing things, and doing things fast seems to be a low priority. The problem with backlogs is that it can only grow in magnitude, and there will come a time the present administration will not even know where to start.

Things are equally bad in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, where Defensor’s allies, notably Vice Governor Oscar Richard S. Garin, Jr., reign supreme. The number one complaint that is growing louder and louder by the day is the frequent absence and tardiness of the vice governor. Garin seldom reports to his office, causing the paperwork to pile up on his desk. Naturally, delays will result, and this has irked even his own ally, 3rd district Board Member Licurgo Tirador, when he had to wait long before his claim for reimbursement was approved. Members of the SP secretariat are also grumbling about Garin’s frequent absences. Important documents have to wait before action could be taken. Oftentimes, they resort to sending a driver to Garin’s Guimbal residence so that vouchers and documents requiring his signature can be acted upon.

Sessions of the SP are supposed to start at 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday. But it has become common for the sessions to start late because Garin rarely arrives on time. Absenteeism and tardiness have always been Garin’s trademark from the time he was board member in the 90s. It looks like his undesirable habits are not about to change now that he is the number two official of the province. From Capitol insiders, I heard talk that the delays in the processing of papers can become a major irritant in the provincial legislature that will lead to a break-up of the ruling majority.

The incompetence of Defensor allies are also being exposed. The ruling majority installed 4th district board member Hernan Biron Jr. as chairman of the committee on appropriations. During committee deliberations, Biron hardly says a word, and clearly is incapable of performing his job as committee chairman. In just two months, Biron has earned the nickname “chairman of the committee on silence”, a label that aptly describes his ignorance and incompetence. As the SP trudges through more work ahead, Biron’s incompetence and ignorance will be a source of embarrassment for the Defensor administration.

After just two months and a half, the Iloilo provincial government is already riding over a bumpy road, and Ilonggo voters will not take long to realize what a big mistake it was to put these majority officials in charge of the capitol.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

5 Responses to Brewing problems at the Iloilo capitol

  1. There’s also an early clash between the hacker/plagiarist and the current information officer over turf. The hacker/plagiarist wants to wrest control of the information office, but the current information officer refuses to budge. Both are known to be loyalists of the present governor. The power struggle is now perceptible to reporters covering the Capitol beat.

  2. The cabal of the hacker/plagiarist and his partner, Inciang, may be good at destroying people’s reputations, but the one thing they are incapable of doing is make their clients competent as they are not, knowledgeable and smart as they are ignorant, and sweet-smelling to the Ilonggo people as they stink.

  3. No matter how hard the hacker/plagiarist and Inciang try to package the vice governor, they can’t deodorize the repugnant image of a lazy and incompetent individual.

  4. According to my sources, there is now a mad rush in the Defensor administration to spend the more than P1 billion in savings left behind of former Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for purchases that promise the highest commissions. By next year, the funds of the province will dwindle significantly.

  5. The Capitol is abuzz with the impending kicking out of Marilou Sumbing as information officer. Last Thursday, Gov. Defensor told reporters the Public Information Office, which Sumbing regards as her personal turf, will be merged with the Community Affairs Office, where the hacker/plagiarist holds fort. Under the merger, one of the two will be named head. Defensor described that person as the “competent” one. I feel sorry for Sumbing, because she thought Defensor would shield her and allow her to preserve her small kingdom. But it is a kingdom that the hacker/plagiarist covets. In the power play, Sumbing is the clear loser, and she can no longer carry the title as information officer.

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