Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CORRUPTION AT DEP-ED

By MARCELO C. ORTIGOZA JR

 The mayor and the vice mayor of a Central Pangasinan town have axe to grind against the principal of the biggest high school in their town and one of the biggest secondary schools in the province. “We are politicians and we owe our debts to our leaders (in the villages). Thus we recommend their children as (licensed) teachers to that school. But she (principal in that school) withheld the items from us,” the influential vice mayor told me. Now that the principal is going to be promoted and assigned at the division office of the Department of Education, the smarting politician promised the principal of the 2nd biggest high school in the town to occupy the soon to be vacant post. But the mayor and the vice mayor have another problem. The lady principal of the 3rd biggest high school is ruining their plan. She is hell-bent on applying for the post of the biggest secondary school of the town in the division office in Lingayen despite the pledge of the two leaders that she gets the position of the 2nd biggest school. “In case she persisted, she will get our ire,” the vice mayor warned.
The vice mayor told me whether she likes it or not the post of the principal of the biggest comprehensive high school would still need his and the mayor’s imprimatur.
 ***
A source who asked anonymity explained to me that a principal who go against the power- that- be at the municipal level could be deprived of the Special Education Fund of the municipality whose allocation is at the discretion of the mayor. “What’s the big deal for this jockeying?” I posed. The high school has more than 5000 students. It means P50 thousand to P100 thousand a month from the DepEd’s version of a Pork Barrel called MOE (Maintenance & Other Expenses). MOE is susceptible to corruption by school principals. That’s why many of them want to retain their post than be promoted to supervisor because of the windfall the post of a principal gives them. Here is an example how a corrupt principal raided the MOE: He/she asks a supplier to issue him/her an official receipt minus the sum where the principal has discretion to scribble the price of, say, low quality identification card. She puts P25 for an ID that costs only 13 pesos. With 5000 students, it means he/she goes to the bank laughing with P60 thousand loot. Susmariosep, who says that working at DepEd is a bane?
***
What is this? Three new classrooms for P5 million from the pork barrel of Senator Peter Cayetano in Dagupan City. Eng. Rodolfo “Boy” Dion, chief of the 2nd Engineering District of the DPWH, explained to me that each of the three edifices is a two-storey building that if quantified would become six school buildings worth P830 thousand each. He cited that the foundation in the ground floor of the three edifices are more solid, that it has more tie-beam and has more iron reinforcements compared to the standard one school room built by private contractors contracted by the public works. Dion denied that there was anomaly in the construction of the buildings in Dagupan City. He said he sent already an explanation to the office of Senator Cayetano and to the editor of a provincial newspaper on the program of works and the reports of the bidding. “Iba ang plano na iyan kesa doon sa standard (school building). Mas malaki ang cost ng two storey,” he stressed.
***
In terms of war of attrition in the media, it seems Dagupan City Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez “eclipsed” Dagupan City Mayor Benjie S. Lim. Belen’s media stooges assail incessantly the wisdom (or idiocy, whatever) of the P10 million Tsunami Hill, plan of which , when presented by Administrator Vlad S. Mata, is like a box of a birthday cake (sold at Belen’s Goldilocks Store franchised at her CSI Mall) according to the vice mayor in a media forum. Belen denounced the project as waste of precious government funds. She said the monies intended for it could be better distributed as relief goods to the evacuees. The vice mayor also discredited the P50 million lying-in clinic project of Benjie. She said it could be better used as membership of the city indigents to PhilHealth. Just like a Joseph Goebbels’ wannabe, lapdogs of Belen in the media keep repeating her arguments in public through radio programs and her cable TV.
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City Administrator Mata disagreed vehemently Belen’s arguments when I bumped into him lately. He said the wisdom why mayor Lim is hell-bent on constructing a lying-in clinic was because of the money subsidized by PhilHealth could be better funneled to the coffers of the city. “Meron tayong hospital that we own that could help the unwashed of the society at the same time make the city earn for the payment subsidized by PhilHealth to the poor,” he said.
 ***
Mata told me too how enviable the lives of the evacuees who stayed at the city astrodome every time their villages are submerged in flood. He said the city gave them an expensive blanket that they eventually own, they got sumptuous meals prepared by the city, and they have video show and clothes to warm their back given by non-government organizations. “When I asked them to leave since the flood in their villages have already subsided, they were ambivalent as if they want to prolong their stay. It was because of the perks given by the city to them,” he stressed. The plan of the mayor on the lying-in-clinic vis-à-vis the revenues he gets from PhilHealth and the “Three-Star Hotel style” treatment of the evacuees at the Astrodome were laudable. But, Holy Canoli, the City Information Office has not exploited these propaganda coups in public. It took again this writer to scoop them whenever he drops at the office of Mata. The administrator wondered why the CIO fails to ask him this kind of information that should dramatically bode well for the city government. Because of these omissions, paid hacks of the vice mayor chewed, gnawed, and gobbled the Lim administration in the bar of public opinions.
***
A source at the Department of Education told me that jockeying for the post of Superintendent Aurora Domingo (Division School – Pangasinan 1) has been rolling already. She said the applicants, who already signified their intention at the office of Director Teresita Marrero Velasco of the DepEd regional office, were Urdaneta City School Superintendent Joy Fernandez, Pang-2 Division Superintendent Vilaruz Raguindin, Dagupan City Supt. Alma Ruby Torio, San Carlos City Superintendent Rowena Banzon, and Pang-1 Assistant School Superintendents Danny Sison and Shiela Marie Primicias. If, according to the source, Governor Amado T. Espino roots for Fernandez, a native of Bayambang, Director Velasco favors Fernandez, Raguindin, and Torio who were considered as front runner. “The only CESO (Career Executive Service Officer) eligible on the pack is Dr. Raguindin. The rest of the applicants are not full-pledged CESO,” my source stressed. The post of a superintendent (who oversees more than 8000 teachers) in Pangasinan is politically sensitive since election campaign is just around the corner. Just like the aborted designation three months ago of the police provincial director (who was suspected to be closed with the governor), the one that would be appointed for the post by DepEd Sec. Ermin Luistro should have the blessing of Malacanang. With the strained relationship of the Governor with President Benigno Aquino, the real power broker that could influence who among the pack will be lucky to head the biggest division office in Region-1 on October 11, 2012 would be Alaminos City mayor Hernani Braganza or former Governor Victor Agbayani. Braganza and Agbayani are the point men of the president’s Liberal Party in Pangasinan. Among the candidates, it is Dr. Torio (whose mother Dr. Thelma Caronongan used to be the Superintendent of Pang-1 under Agbayani’s father who was a long-reigning governor of Pangasinan) who is seen as the favorite of Agbayani. Torio used to head too the top post of Pang-1 during Victor’s time as governor. It is still unknown who is Braganza’s bet. If political connection plays an indispensable role in the lucrative and powerful post, the rest of the candidates should have been already lobbying heaven and earth in Imperial Manila for patron that could intercede in their behalf. One of the candidates has stealthily been moving two months ago by ingratiating with the kin, a high priest, of a powerful cabinet secretary who got the ear of the president. (You can read my selected intriguing but thought-provoking columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com. You can send comments too at totomortz@yahoo.com).

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