Just before the weekend, local chief executives in the Bicol region traveled for hours to attend the second federalism roadshow in Legazpi City, where they expected to be “enlightened” about a key advocacy of the Duterte administration.
Apparently, the roadshow did not fulfill that basic expectation. At least that’s how Mayor Ricarte Padilla of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, felt.
Padilla could not hide his frustration after attending the federalism convention at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation on Friday, December 7. Asked for feedback on the forum right after the event, Padilla said the two main speakers failed to accomplish the basic purpose of the roadshow – explain the salient features of federalism being pushed by the Duterte administration.
“Imagine, we drove for more than 5 hours to Legazpi to listen and learn insights from the speakers. Unfortunately, DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño and VACC chairman Dante Jimenez did not communicate the message clearly. It’s a waste of our time and resources,” he said.
Jimenez serves the Duterte administration as chairman of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
Padilla said that the speeches seemed more like political propaganda and campaigning.
In his speech, Diño said President Rodrigo Duterte was bent on changing the Philippines because the country was full of plunderers and drug addicts.
“He (Duterte) is a rare species. He doesn’t care if his soul will go to hell as long as he serves the country fully, specifically for the Bicolanos,” Diño said.
Jimenez, for his part, slammed corrupt government officials and offices.
“The way I see it, it’s a little bit disappointing. The number of participants are getting less and less because the convenors are lecturing the mayors, regional directors, and stakeholders like pupils. We have to establish first the respect to the mayors and to the regional director. Let us pause and review our position,” Padilla said.
The mayor added that if local chief executives could not get the message clearly, how could they convey it to other local officials down the line?
“There is a need to review the drawing board. This is a little bit alarming as when we go down to the field, it will be the mayors who will go to the ground to explain it to the people before the plebiscite,” he said.
“If the mayors will resist first, how can the barangay captains accept it and the grassroots? So this is my concern,” Padilla added.
The first federalism roadshow in the region was also held in Legazpi City in July. There were thousands of participants in the July event, many of whom arrived in chartered buses from all over Albay. (READ: DILG federalism roadshow’s ‘surprise’ guest in Albay)
At the December 7 event, there were far less people. The program was supposed to start at 1 pm but was pushed back by an hour as there were just over 100 participants in the large venue.
Some mayors and students were seen leaving the venue even before the program started, but uniformed personnel remained until the end of the program. – Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler.com
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Ricarte Padilla is the mayor of Labo, Camarines Norte. This has been corrected to reflect that he is mayor of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte.