Distorted sense of priorities

car keysThe Cataquiz administration in San Pedro City, Laguna showed it has a distorted sense of values, and priorities, when it gifted barangay captains except one with brand-new cars. The only barangay captain who didn’t get a car was Kap Eugenio “Jun” Ynion Jr. of Barangay San Antonio. That’s because the Cataquiz administration — a modern day conjugal affair at the city hall — found Kap Jun “unsupportive” of the Association of Barangay Captains. In short, Kap Jun isn’t one who licked their behinds.

For an LGU which could not even buy a new firetruck and ambulance to serve the needs of its constituents, the purchase of the vehicles was a criminal waste of public funds. It catered to a wrong set of needs — luxury and prestige — rather than the needs of the community. In a story ran by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ousted city mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz said the move was impelled by the need to give the barangay captains “prestige”. His wife could not stand seeing barangay captains arrive in meetings “wearing barongs and get down from old cars,” he said.

San Pedro City information officer Sonny Ordonez also downplayed the brewing political rivalry between Cataquiz and Ynion as the reason why he was left out of the list of recipients.

Kap Jun doesn’t really mind having been omitted from the list. He has more cars to his name than he and his family needs. He is appalled that the LGU wasted scarce public funds for a clearly luxury item that has little impact on public service. “What does prestige have to do with the effectiveness of a barangay captain?” he asked.

Upon assuming office as barangay captain, Kap Jun has embarked on a “zero corruption” platform of government that seeks to maximize the utilization of the barangay’s P35 million annual budget. Among other things, he bought basic medicines at ultra-low prices at levels enough to last a whole year. The medicines are given out free to indigents; those who are employed pay super low prices for them. He surprised his own constituents when he purchased a firetruck using personal funds. His barangay has its own ambulance and three brand-new Nissan pick-ups for its barangay tanods.

This brand of public service apparently doesn’t sit well with the Cataquizes. “They don’t like somebody undressing them as corrupt and incompetent,” one resident told me two weeks ago when I visited San Pedro City. By simply doing what he does, Kap Jun has shown the people the vast difference between corrupt governance and “zero corruption” governance. In less than a year as barangay captain, Kap Jun is now being talked about as the next city mayor of San Pedro City, a prospect that frightens the incumbents.

With the national publicity given to the “cargate” issue, public attention will likely deepen into the comparative performance of Cataquiz and Ynion. The Cataquizes want to pamper the barangay captains with “toys for the big boys”; Kap Jun is seeking new and innovative ways to deliver more services to his people.

I learned that native-born people in San Pedro are called “taal”, as in “taal San Pedro”. Kap Jun is not “taal”, but based on feedback I have gathered, people in the community are gravitating towards him because he shows he cares for them more than the “taal”. One strong indication for them is the sense of values between the Cataquizes and Kap Jun. They aren’t falling for a distorted sense of values.

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.

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