Addressing election case-related vacuum with career-based LGU Administrators

Some people in Legazpi City are walking on a tight rope because of the axe hanging over the head of Geraldine Rosal, the elected mayor of Legazpi City. According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), she is disqualified for violating the election rules for allegedly engaging on vote buying. But before the second placer, Alfredo Garbin, took his oath of office, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order. That means Rosal will sit as the mayor until everything is settled.

Geraldine’s husband, Noel, was earlier disqualified for Albay Governor because of the same case. Unfortunately, Noel was not as lucky as Geraldine because the former was a sitting mayor when he allegedly violated Section 68(a) of the Omnibus Election Code and “gave money to influence, induce or corrupt the voters”.

The cases of Geraldine and Noel are not isolated cases. In fact, almost all local government officials are guilty of the same with some doing the act in benign manner. Or, some officials do not have aggressive opposition who are willing to move heaven and earth and seek the disqualification of the sitting and suspected incumbent guilty of Section 68(a).

To eradicate, if not minimize cases like the Rosals, the Congress could pass a law requiring reelectionists, starting with the local chief executives, to automatically resign from their public posts at the start of the campaign season. The local government will then be manned by the local government administrators who should be hired as career officials and not as employees who are co-terminus with their hiring authorities.

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Legislating Minimum Wage

Laws are always unstable unless they are founded on the manners of a nation; and manners are the only durable and resisting power in a people.

Alexis de Tocqueville

The Lower and Upper Chambers of the Philippine Congress are quite busy the past weeks. Their target — to legislate the country’s minimum wage and help the labor force cope up with the rising inflation. The intention is noble, at least at face value, as it tries to address the welfare of the helpless and the needy. In the very first place, the purpose of legislation is to promote public safety, order, and welfare.

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Currently, there are at least seven House Bills and a couple of Senate Bills that seeks to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines to institutionalize a national minimum wage for private sector workers. As Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement, “If workers are putting in hours and hours of labor, day after day, and yet are still unable to afford their rent, bills and basic necessities, then there is a problem.”

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COLLABDev, data and analytics

Data and analytics are essential tools for local governance – they provide evidence-based decision-making, help identify patterns and trends, enable effective resource allocation, measure performance, and promote transparency and accountability.

Indeed, data and data analytics are incredibly important. Local governance involves making decisions that affect the lives of local residents, businesses, and communities. Evidence, therefore, is needed to support these decisions and enable local officials to make informed choices based on objective information rather than relying on intuition and guesswork. Data analytics can help local officials identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent. For example, data on crime rates could highlight areas where additional police attention may be needed, or data on traffic congestion could inform decisions about road infrastructure improvements. An information on the common illnesses and diseases in an area for a particular month of the year could also help rural health units prepare the medicines needed so that they will not be caught off-guard when cases increase.

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Local governments also have limited resources, and they need to allocate these resources effectively to achieve their goals. With data analytics, local officials will be able to determine where resources are needed most, based on evidence rather than speculation.

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An insult to Customs

Cathay Pacific Airlines had replaced the toy plane that was smashed in NAIA Terminal 1. The owner of the smashed toy, Rachell Anne Ramos, shared on April 25 a photo of an Airbus A350-900 scale model gifted by Cathay Pacific. 

Ramos earlier posted on Facebook a story on how her a die-cast toy airplane was flagged at the NAIA Terminal 1 allegedly because of a “suspicious image”. The toy allegedly passed inspections and even subjected to the airport’s sniffing dogs. It was only because of the scrutinous eyes of a BOC personnel that the toy was flagged and to reduce the hassle, just allowed the toy plane to be smashed. Hence, instead of landing to the lap of the child Ramos wanted to gift the toy to, it just ended in the trash can.

The toy, however, was not replaced and it took Cathay Pacific to take the initiative and replace the same. Quite insulting, right? And more insulting — smugglings continue in the Philippines and the BOC has only sniffed, and confiscated, on a few of them. According to Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman, Jesus Lim Arranza,  the country is losing about P250 billion in terms of value-added tax annually due to smuggling based on a study it commissioned a few years ago.

The BOC, however, could do something better. To avoid instances like that of Ramos, the BOC can take the following steps:

  1. Conduct regular training and seminars for their officers to have deeper knowledge of the prohibited and restricted items, international trade, and customs procedures.
  2. Invest in modern and high-tech equipment to detect and identify suspicious objects, including toys or other items that may pose security threats. Customs should regularly maintain and upgrade the equipment to ensure its accuracy and efficiency.
  3. Establish clear and transparent guidelines for travelers. Customs should have standardized rules and procedures, and the guidelines should be readily available on their website or in print.
  4. Establish a grievance mechanism for travelers who may feel aggrieved or unfairly treated by Customs. This will give travelers an avenue to appeal or raise their concerns appropriately.

By following these steps, Customs can minimize the risk of false alarms, inconveniences, or complaints from travelers, while still effectively monitoring and controlling imports and exports.

SIM Card registration extension: Providing troll farms a space to maneuver?

Bongbong Marcos signed Tuesday, April 25, the 90-day extension for SIM card registration. It appears, however, that the extension is favoring only the troll farms.

The SIM Card Registration Law (RA 11934) mandates that anyone selling a SIM card must first inquire about a valid identification document before proceeding with the sale. Those with existing SIM cards are also required to register the same with the deadline of registration set on 26 April 2023. Three days before the deadline, however, only 82 million SIM cards have been registered or 49.31% of total active SIMs. As of December 2022, around 168,016,400 SIMS are considered active in the Philippines.

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