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Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

LET ME greet Suns­tar Ba­colod a Happy New Year. Or just greet ev­ery­one a New Year. I just can’t bring my­self to in­clude Happy in the greet­ing.

In 2017, Ba­colod City Wa­ter Dis­trict

(Baciwa) promised me that by Novem­ber 2017, the lack of wa­ter will be a thing of the past in our barangay.

So I waited. Waited. And waited.

Guess what? Noth­ing. As in noth­ing!

And now we’re in 2019. Noth­ing’s new. Wa­ter starts to flow in our faucet at be­tween 12 mid­night to 2 a.m. and stops be­tween 6 to 7 a.m.

Wait. I apol­o­gize. In 2017, wa­ter comes be­tween 9 to 10 p.m. Wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion has changed but not im­prove—but for the worse.

In 2016, the in­cum­bent Mayor Eve­lio Leonar­dia said the Baciwa needs to im­prove their ser­vices. He noted that the wa­ter util­ity is about 43 years old, but that time, they are serv­ing only 53 per­cent of the peo­ple of Ba­colod.

“So there is some­thing wrong with Baciwa. They should serve the re­main­ing 47 per­cent of the peo­ple of Ba­colod who still have no wa­ter sup­ply.”

That same year, Leonar­dia ap­pointed his al­lies to the Baciwa Board. “Atty. Lorendo Di­lag car­ries with him his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with pub­lic in­ter­est. Aside from be­ing a cred­i­ble lawyer, he is the kind who has his ears on the ground and could eas­ily re­spond to the needs and de­mands of our com­mu­nity.”

Didn’t Di­lag prom­ise that he will “con­tinue to work to­ward the ful­fill­ment of Baciwa’s vi­sion of de­liv­er­ing potable wa­ter to Ba­colod res­i­dents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Has he tried to put his ears on the ground in Ali­jis and Ta­c­ul­ing?

I haven’t seen him around.

Then there’s Mona Dia Jardin, whom Leonar­dia vouched in 2016 for her “pro­fes­sional knowl­edge of her com­pe­tence, ded­i­ca­tion to duty, and sin­cer­ity to pub­lic ser­vice.”

That year dur­ing her ap­point­ment, Jardin promised she will study the Baciwa op­er­a­tions and get ac­quainted with the func­tions of the Board. She was put in the wa­ter util­ity’s board as AN…OJT?

But I’ll bite. Has Jardin learned how to pro­vide Ali­jis­nons with wa­ter 24/7 from their faucets?

This com­ing lo­cal elec­tions might turn out to be a piv­otal year. So far, I heard from a can­di­date that wa­ter will be an elec­tion is­sue. It seems the in­cum­bent is bask­ing on this lau­rels n his awards

But said he, the awards pro­vide “some kind of moral pres­sure that we have to live up with the ex­pec­ta­tion of our peo­ple.”

Let’s go for wa­ter pres­sure then to give us 24/7 wa­ter ser­vice.*

(bq­[email protected]­hoo.com)

TRA­DI­TION­ALLY, by the time the long Christ­mas sea­son winds down in these tropic climes, the only lists on hand are New Year’s res­o­lu­tions that are likely to be for­got­ten be­fore the month ends.

But it seems the hol­i­day spirit – or its sin­is­ter twin – con­tin­ues to im­bue the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, or specif­i­cally, its in­tel­li­gence arm, which has de­cided to un­der­take an “in­ven­tory” of teach­ers who be­long to or “are aligned with” the Al­liance of Con­cerned Teach­ers.

Thus far, said Ray­mond Basilio, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the 180,000-strong ACT, they have con­firmed vis­its by po­lice in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives to a num­ber of schools in Manila, Mal­abon and Navotas, and in the prov­inces of Zam­bales, Sor­so­gon, Ca­marines Sur, Cebu and Agu­san del Sur.

In An­tipolo, po­lice agents talked to the head of the teach­ers’ fed­er­a­tion, who po­litely turned down their re­quest for in­for­ma­tion.

Most of the vis­its took place from Jan­uary 3, ac­cord­ing to Basilio, but the move was ap­par­ently planned way ear­lier.

In Manila, Chief In­spec­tor Rex­son Layug, in­tel­li­gence chief of the Manila Po­lice Dis­trict, is­sued a mem­o­ran­dum dated De­cem­ber 26 or­der­ing the in­ven­tory and cit­ing a De­cem­ber 20 memo from the RID/R2, or the Re­gional In­tel­li­gence Divi­sion, which, log­i­cally, would have re­layed the orig­i­nal or­der from the Direc­torate for In­tel­li­gence dated De­cem­ber 10. Strangely – and omi­nously – the Layug memo ref­er­ences the “Mid Term Elec­tion” 2019 with­out ex­plain­ing why.

A sim­i­lar memo was is­sued by the chief of in­tel­li­gence of the Zam­bales po­lice.

The funny thing is that the in­ven­tory ap­pears to be so top se­cret that rank­ing PNP of­fi­cials said they knew noth­ing about it.

Worse, at least for the teach­ers in Manila, the agency sup­posed to look out for their in­ter­ests, the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, went along with this ap­par­ent vi­o­la­tion both of their rights and the law. On Jan­uary 4, Sh­eryll Gay­ola, the as­sis­tant schools divi­sion su­per­in­ten­dent for Manila, act­ing as of­fi­cer-in-charge as Su­per­in­ten­dent Je­ni­lyn Rose Cor­puz was on leave, or­dered school prin­ci­pals in the cap­i­tal city or­der­ing to take “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion” on Layug’s mem­o­ran­dum.

Un­der­stand­ably, the Manila Pub­lic School Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, on the same day, de­manded the re­vo­ca­tion of Gay­ola’s or­der, blast­ing the “com­plic­ity” in “state-per­pe­trated ha­rass­ment, in­tim­i­da­tion and re­pres­sion” of ACT mem­bers.

ACT also warned that ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials who went along with the po­lice in­ven­tory could leave them­selves open to crim­i­nal and civil suits.

As of Sun­day, we learned that the Cor­puz had or­dered the re­call of Gay­ola’s memo.

It is easy enough to act smug and say there is noth­ing wrong with the in­ven­tory. “If you have done noth­ing wrong, what is there to fear,” is often the face­tious ri­poste to any ap­pre­hen­sion.

The thing is, not only is pri­vacy a con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed right, we also now have Repub­lic Act

10173, or the Data Pri­vacy Act, which man­dates that one’s per­sonal data should never be col­lected, pro­cessed and stored by any or­ga­ni­za­tion with­out your ex­plicit con­sent, un­less oth­er­wise pro­vided by law and that, in the event it is, one has the right to be in­formed that per­sonal data will be, are be­ing, or were, col­lected and pro­cessed.

In this case, ACT’S Basilio said the teach­ers were never in­formed be­fore­hand.

ACT’S worry over the po­lice in­ven­tory stems not only from the ap­par­ent il­le­gal­ity of it all but also, and per­haps even more so, from Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s re­cent threats to crush not just the com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment but also the per­fectly le­gal groups that the gov­ern­ment and its armed forces openly ac­cuse, sans any proof to speak of, of be­ing rebel “front or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

These groups in­clude ACT.

Given the dis­dain this ad­min­is­tra­tion has for hu­man rights, there is enough rea­son to fear where this po­lice ex­er­cise might be headed to.

To those – and their num­bers re­main sub­stan­tial – who read­ily be­lieve the ca­nard about “front or­ga­ni­za­tions” and about ac­tivists and pro­gres­sives be­ing good-for-noth­ings with only may­hem on their minds, do re­mem­ber that many of the rights you now take for granted were fought for and won by peo­ple like them.

Be­sides, there is a rea­son why hu­man rights are con­sid­ered “uni­ver­sal.”

Do not, please, ever make the mis­take of be­liev­ing that cer­tain classes or sec­tors, for one rea­son or an­other, have less claim to these rights than you. For once this think­ing be­comes the norm, you might just as eas­ily find your­self on the wrong end of this equa­tion.*

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