Down the drain


When the Iloilo Esplanade was inaugurated on Aug. 18, 2012, its patron, Senator Franklin Drilon, was asked this question: “Sir, why is it that with the beautiful park you have brought to Iloilo City, it lacks a basic necessity, which is a rest room?” The reporters who had flocked around Drilon were surprised to see his reaction. His faced darkened; he was displeased. “Why ask for something that is not there? Be contented with what we have!” The senator was irritated.

Image

Senate President Franklin Drilon waves to crowds along with Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquiao during the inauguration of the Iloilo Esplanade.

Indeed, that was a valid question. The government claims to have spent P70 million  on the 1.2 kilometer riverside park. With such extravagance showered upon the project, it’s hard to see how something so basic could have been overlooked. The project is supposed to draw hordes and hordes of tourists. Where are they supposed to relieve themselves when the call of nature comes? “Just go to a nearby restaurant!” was the retort of Drilon.

The bladed remarks of Drilon comes back to mind after it was revealed that a month after the Iloilo Esplanade was inaugurated, he drew from his pork barrel fund, the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), and allocated P13.5 million for “completion works”. That fund release was kept under wraps. There was no media announcement as Drilon is wont to do each time he brings funds to the city.

As it turned out, the extra money was primarily for a “manual irrigation system” and “sprigging” and installation of “concrete pavers”. It was substantially a ghost project, because about 70% of the supposed scopes of work are mere paper work items, intended to justify the expenditures. That huge chunk of the money went into the pocket of somebody, and I won’t even have to mention who that somebody is.

The centerpiece of this pork barrel scam is a network of PVC pipes stretching about 1.2 kilometers. Under the program of work prepared by the DPWH, about P6.4 million was earmarked for this project. But a check on the ground fails to persuade us that Drilon (I specifically mention him, not DPWH, because he ordered all of these things) spent even a fraction of that amount for the watering system. Our chief photographer, Leo Solinap, went around the Iloilo Esplanade and saw PVC pipes sticking out of the ground. There were no valves or faucets. It wasn’t working.Image

An ordinary layman will not find it hard to conclude that this is a scam. Drilon had the money, but he didn’t even bother to provide for a restroom facility which was the clamor of the people. He chose instead to flush down the drain taxpayers’ money for a sophisticated sounding plant watering system to the prejudice of the Filipino people.

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.

4 Responses to Down the drain

  1. gabaqui says:

    He is one of the biggest thieves in Iloilo next to no one. May karma ka rin, sana malapit nang hinayupak ka!

  2. Pingback: One small step, a giant leap for justice | Mejorada's Point of View

  3. April says:

    How is it that we miss these during elections? This should be investigated. Thank God for transparency.

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