Zero corruption

There is a direct correlation between corruption and poverty.
Countries which are poor and impoverished are almost always run by corrupt governments.
Conversely, there is minimal corruption in countries which are advanced in terms of economic development.
This is the reason why I, along with so many millions of other Filipinos, was enamored with the idea that then presidential candidate Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III peddled to voters during the 2010 presidential elections: “Kung walang korap, walang mahirap.”
The statement is true. But the man who said it turned out to be a farce. Corruption has reached its worst levels during the Aquino presidency.
But in a barangay called San Antonio in San Pedro City, Laguna, the idea of “zero corruption” has caught fire as the avenue toward economic development and the ultimate liberation of Filipinos from the vicious cycle of corruption and poverty.
It is being put into practice without fear or favor by a neophyte in politics. In just one year and a half, Eugenio S. Ynion, Jr. has demonstrated governance can be improved substantially, and basic services enhanced, with the simple expedient of “zero corruption.”Emergency service vehicles
By national standards, San Antonio is big. With a population of 47,825 and a land area of 780 hectares, the barangay runs on a budget of P35 million for 2015.
Through skillful management, and a passionate espousal of “zero corruption”, Ynion is turning his barangay into a model LGU by providing free medical services and medicine to constituents, livelihood training and social services.
It has its own emergency response unit composed of a fleet of patrol vehicles, motorcycles, ambulances and a fire truck to provide his constituents with a peace of mind.
It has become the first barangay in San Pedro City to undertake drainage and sidewalk infrastructure from its own budget.
Ynion has demonstrated that without corruption, every peso in the LGU’s budget goes into services and infrastructure. And that can really go far, as the experience during his first 15 months in office has shown. There are more projects in the pipeline.
Like most LGUs, San Pedro City has earned the notoriety for wastefulness and inefficiency as a result of corruption. Understandably, a lot of people were skeptical about Ynion’s “zero corruption” advocacy at the start. Some political allies mistook it to be a mere political stunt, and continued with their errant ways of the past.
Ynion shocked his own allies by kicking out from office employees who refused to follow his lead. For him, the fact that most of these employees helped him win the elections in October 2013 wasn’t a license for them to engage in corruption. “I don’t owe them anything,” Ynion said. “I owe my position to the citizenry who elected me into office.”
Even old-timers in San Pedro City politics who had aligned with him found out there isn’t room for compromise. Just recently, he severed his ties from two powerful politicians because their vested interests clashed with the principles Ynion embraced in his governance.
Ynion is not worried about repercussions. His hard-line stance against corruption might not win him friends among political patriarchs. But he is confident that the big difference in the delivery of services to the people will more than make up for his losses. He believes the people are hungry for change, and he is determined to deliver the goods.
It’s not just fiscal management that Ynion has given focus. He has also waged battle against companies that violate environmental laws. His energy level could be described as “overdrive” as he personally led the issuance of closure orders against a rubber tire-recycling plant, a junkyard and a piggery in his jurisdiction.
Ynion is determined to clean up the river that flows across San Antonio and discharges its water into the Laguna Lake. He is also keen about keeping the air in the community free from harmful toxins, as what happened when the rubber-tire recycling plant operated.
And aware that corruption is often a partner of crime, Ynion has led an aggressive war against illegal drugs. He is always present in anti-drug operations and generously gave rewards to law enforcement teams that successfully bagged shabu pushers. He wants to send a strong message to drug pushers: Stay out of barangay San Antonio!

JSY drug bust
True enough, San Pedro City citizens from other barangays have noticed the big changes that Ynion’s “zero corruption” governance has produced.
It has led many citizens to come out openly, especially on social media, to encourage Ynion to run for city mayor. The winds of change are blowing, a resident who has been active on the political scene in San Pedro City told me recently. It will be “zero-corruption” versus the “pillar of corruption”, he said, and the latter will simply crumble in the confrontation.
Ynion has declared his intention to seek the mayorship of San Pedro City a couple of weeks ago, and the positive response has been overwhelming. Not surprisingly, the incumbent is worried, and has mounted a black propaganda campaign against Ynion. The effort is hardly making a dent, more like BB pellets on a Kevlar vest.
I took the time to write this column for The Daily Guardian to inspire Ilonggos to follow the lead of San Pedro City. With the leadership provided by Jun Ynion, citizens are rising on their feet to reclaim their city from the clutches of corruption. Can this also happen in Iloilo City? Only time will tell.

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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