Davao International Airport Needs Urgent Attention for the Necessary “Changes”



By Apolinario Villalobos


When Rodrigo Duterte was campaigning for the presidency, the popular caveat is: “change is coming”. Now, that he is in Malacaἧan Palace finally, it has become: “change for the better”. Indeed, there are so many things that need to be changed as part of his “house cleaning”. One of them is the Davao International Airport which is in a very sorry state. Many disappointed visitors to the Davao were heard to have commented on how in the world has such a “dilapidated” terminal become an international airport? For one thing, the decrepit signage announcing “Davao International Airport” has only with four or five lighted letters. The whole terminal building needs a repainting to put it bluntly. One lane that leads to the entrance of the pre-departure is closed forcing passengers alighting from taxis, thereby, forcing them to cross two lanes before finally making it to the unglamorous gate of the pre-dep. And, worst is the constant breakdown of the aircon system making many offices inside the terminal building akin to sauna cubicles!


Davao is supposed to be the premier international airport in Mindanao, but there is not even a 24-hour lounge for passengers who come from neighboring cities and towns, and who are then forced to stay in cheap downtown lodging facilities for a few hours in their desire to be on the first flight the following day. The average taxi fare from the downtown area is Php250, but for humanitarian’s sake, there should be a tip of at least Php20.00 The drivers of taxis queueing outside the airport “fence” are left on their own without, at least mobile toilets. And, to think that they an integral part of the tourism industry. I was told by many drivers that they would have to look for discreet corners every time they heed the call of nature. Aside from the mobile toilet, they should be provided with at least, a sheds of tarp with benches as they patiently wait for the visitors for 24 hours. And, there’s one signage announcing the presence of a government office in the area, but the name is shamefully printed in small letters under the name of the sponsor, a soft drink company which is printed in big letters…now, I think that is wrong because government agencies are not supposed to solicit funds for promo undertakings as they are supposedly budgeted!


The new secretary of the Department of Tourism, Wanda Tulfo Teo should do something about the aforementioned appalling situations. There is no problem with the peace and order of Davao, especially, with the transport service because taxi drivers are generally courteous and honest. But tourism is not all about peace and honest taxi drivers. The industry is more that those, as just like in visiting a house as guest, there is a question, such as, what can a palatable food on a grandly prepared table do if the yard is full of grass, the gate and the door are dilapidated, and the lighting fixtures are out of order?


The international focus has been veered towards Davao where the new president came from, and also due to its reputation as the comparably most peaceful city in the Philippines, thanks to him. It is home to the highest peak in the country, Mt. Apo, at 10,311 feet above sea level: the most exotic fruit, durian: Davao coffee made from coffee beans disposed awkwardly by civets from their innards: and, not to mention the reputation of the city as the biggest in area, in the whole world at 2,444 square kilometers. The new president who is known for his hard-hitting remarks and cuss has trebled the curiosity about this city. Davao is not only about Mindanao…she now stands for the Philippines as Duterte has become synonymous to her.

Bacoor City Drainage (Ilog) Hinahayaang Tubuan ng mga Punong Kahoy!

Bacoor City Drainage (Ilog) Hinahayaang Tubuan ng

Mga Punong Kahoy!

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Ang maliit na sapa o ilog na ito na daanan ng tubig mula sa Dasmariἧas City ay hinahayaang tubuan ng punong kahoy sa gitna pa mismo, at may ilang lumalaki na sa mga gilid. Nakapagtatakang hindi ito napapansin ng mga taga-Barangay Panapaan 6 ganoong malapit lang ito sa Andrea Village 2 at katabi ng malaking tindahan ng isang kilalang brand ng foam at mattress, and Uratex. At ang nakakabahala pa ay lumulusot na ang mga sanga sa mismong screen na nakatakip sa ilog na nasa gilid ng highway. Tumatawid ang ilog na ito sa ilalim ng Aguinaldo highway na sa kaunting ulan ay bumabaha na dahil ang mga daluyan ng tubig na naiipunan ng basurang naging latak at putik ay bumabaw. Ngayong tag-araw, mapapansin ang paglitaw ng mababaw na lupang pinakasahig ng ilog na tinubuan na rin ng mga damo!


Ang uri ng kahoy na tumutubo sa ilog na nabanggit ay punong-gubat kaya lumalaking di-hamak at nagbabantang bumasag sa narip-rap na gilid. Malamang din na hindi tatagal ay aalsahin na rin ng puno ang nakatakip na screen. Ang pinakamatinding pangamba ay ang pagiging sagabal nito dahil sa mismong gitna ng ilog ito tumubo. Ang hindi maintindihan ay kung bakit hindi ito nire-report ng mga street sweeper sa kinauukulan ganoong tuwing umaga silang nagwawalis sa bahaging ito ng highway na malapit na rin sa SM Bacoor.


Ito ang isa sa maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw na kapabayaan ng mga kinauukulan sa kapakanan ng bayan. Hindi nila “inuugat” o tinitingnan ang mga “talagang dahilan” ng mga problema. Tulad na lang ng mga punong tumutubo sa gitna ng ilog kaya humaharang sa mabilis na pagdaloy ng tubig…nagiging sagabal sila kaya ang mga basura ay naiipon at nagiging bara, dahilan ng mabilis na pagbaha sa mga nasa mababaw na bahagi tulad ng Malumot, Justinville, Luzville, Silver Homes 1 and 2, at Perpetual Village 5 at 7…pati na sa private na sementeryo ng mga Revilla.


Saka na lang ba aaksiyon kung tag-ulan na naman? Hindi dahilan ang eleksiyon 2016 upang hindi maaksiyunan ang ganitong problema dahil ang mga sinisuwelduhang empleyado na dapat ay nagtatrabaho ng maayos ay hindi naman nangangampanya. At lalong hindi pwedeng idahilan ang DENR na nagbabawal sa pagputol ng mga puno dahil ang mga nabanggit na tumububong puno ay nagbabadya ng perhuwisyo. Magkapalitan man ng mga opisyal na binoboto, sila ay nandiyan pa rin at inaasahang magtrabaho ng maayos upang masulit ang sinusweldo sa kanila.


Huwag itong isisi sa mayor dahil may mga taong nasa ilalim niya na inaasahang mag-asikaso nitong problema.





Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be Poverty because of Corruption

Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be

Poverty because of Corruption

By Apolinario Villalobos


Perfection should be ruled out in the reckoning of a progressive country, because there will always be poverty due to corruption somewhere in the system of governance. In other words, the glitter of progress cannot hide poverty. For ultra-progressive countries, the signs may be insignificant as they try to blend with the glamour of urbanity. But in other countries, especially, the third-world, the signs are very prevalent, so that there is always a massive effort to cover them up occasionally, literally, as it is done every time there are special occasions such as visits of foreign dignitaries. This practice is successful in the Philippines.


Practically, poverty is the shadow of progress, and literally, too, as where there are looming high-rise buildings that are pockmarks of progress, not far from them are slums or homeless citizens who huddle together under bridges and nooks. These are misguided citizens who flock to the cities after selling their homestead, that have been farmed for several generations, to deceitful land developers, at a measly price. These are the urban squatters willing to be relocated but found out that the promised “paradise” do not even have a deep well so they go back to their sidewalk “homes”. These are contractual workers who have no job securities as they earn only for five to six months, after which they leave their fate to luck while looking for another job.


How does corruption ever be involved in the sad fate of the exploited? Simply, by the government’s negligence  in providing decent relocation sites with job opportunities and basic facilities to those uprooted from their city abodes for more than so many years; by its cuddling of the spurious contractualization perpetrated by greedy employers; by its failure to guide and protect the rights of farmers who sell their rice fields to subdivision developers at measly prices that are not even enough to sustain them for six months; by its failure to provide the citizens with the basic necessities as funds are allowed to be pocketed by corrupt officials; and practically by looking the other way despite the availability of laws against vote buying.


Third- world country leaders should stop using the word “progressive”, but instead they should use “surviving” to describe their respective economy. If a country’s economy cannot sustain, much less, provide a “comfortable life” to majority of its citizens, then it is still “ailing”…hence, expect poverty to be trailing behind, just a few steps away from the pretentious allegations!




Baclaran Creek: Ugly Stain on the Philippines’ Tourism Image

Baclaran Creek: Ugly Stain on the Philippines’

Tourism Image

by Apolinario Villalobos


Nothing can be one hundred percent clean, sanitized, germ-free, well-kept, etc., to show a pleasant image. But in exerting an effort for such end-result, consistency should be exercised, as failure to do so could be tantamount to being negligent.


Among the ugliest manifestation of the Philippine government’s negligence and inconsistency is the creek at Baclaran which is fringing the northern edge of the purported “business-tourism showcase” of Metro Manila – the cornucopia of condominium buildings, malls, office buildings and the supposedly biggest casino in Asia. Practically, the creek that serves as the catch basin-cum-open drainage of Pasay and Paraἧaque that flows out to the Manila Bay, shows it all. How can the Department of Tourism proudly declare that Manila is a clean city with the obnoxious filth floating on the stagnant creek in all its obnoxious glory greeting the arriving tourists from the airport on their way to their hotels along Roxas Boulevard? Is this progress as what the Philippine president always mumbles? How can such a short strip of open drainage not be cleaned on a daily basis, just like what street sweepers do to the entire extent of the Roxas Boulevard?


It has been observed that every time a government agency’s attention is called for not doing its job well, it cries out such old lines, as “lack of budget” and “lack of personnel”. But why can’t they include such requirements every time they submit their proposed budget? In the meantime, as regards the issue on the maintenance of the city waterways, national and local agencies throw blames at each other, trying to outdo each other in keeping their hands clean of irresponsibility and negligence!


During the APEC conference which caused the “temporary” bankruptcy of commercial establishments in Pasay and Paraἧaque, as well as, local airlines and lowly vendors by the millions of pesos, the creek was almost “immaculately” clean with all the floating scum scooped up and thrown somewhere else. But as soon as the delegates have left, the poor creek is back to its old self again – gagged with the city denizens’ filth and refuse.


Viewing the Baclaran creek is like viewing the rest of the waterways around Metro Manila, including Pasig River, as they are all equally the same filthy picture of neglect, irresponsibility and inconsistency of government concern! One should see the nearby creek at Pasay where the Pumping Station is located, with an “island” that practically developed out of silt, garbage and clumps of water lily! Some days, the short length of artificial creek is skimmed with filth to make it look clean, but most days, it is neglected.


In view of all the above-mentioned, why can’t the national and local government agencies concerned co-operate and do the following?


  • REQUIRE the daily cleaning of the creek by assigning permanent “brigades”, just like what they do for the streets. If there are “street sweepers”, why can’t there be “creek scoopers” and “dredgers”?


  • REQUIRE the vendors with stalls along or near the creeks to maintain the cleanliness of their respective periphery so that they are obliged to call the attention of irresponsible pedestrians who do not show concern. Each stall must be required to have a garbage bag or bin, as well as, broom and dust pan. Their negligence in carrying out such obligation should be made as a basis in revoking their hawker’s permit.


  • REQUIRE government employees with sanitation responsibilities TO GO OUT OF THEIR OFFICES AND DO THEIR JOB, and not just make reports to the City Administrators based on what street sweepers tell them.


  • DREDGE the creek regularly on a yearly basis, not only when flooding occurs during the rainy season, which is a very repugnant reactionary show of concern on the part of the government. The yearly dredging of the waterways would eventually “deepen” them to accommodate more surface water during the rainy season, and even bring their bed back to their former level.


The costly effort of the national government in putting on a pleasant “face” for Manila every time there is an international event, as what happened during the APEC conference, may elicit sympathy and grudgingly executed cooperation, but there should be consistency in it….otherwise, it would just be like sweeping the house, only when visitors are expected, or worse, sweeping the dirt to a corner to hide them.


Cooperation between the government authorities and the citizens is necessary. However, as there is a clear indication that the concerned citizens, such as vendors and pedestrians, lack discipline, the government should take necessary steps in imposing measures to ensure their cooperation, albeit by coercion, so that whatever sanitation projects may have been initiated can be consistently maintained, for the benefit of all.


If littering on the ground can be prohibited with appropriate penalty, why can’t the same be done for the sake of the waterways? If ever local government units have passed such measures why can’t they be imposed authoritatively and consistently?



Pampitik lang ang Torre de Manila…marami pang dapat punahin at alalahanin sa Maynila

Pampitik lang ang Torre de Manila

…marami pang dapat punahin at alalahanin sa Maynila

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang isyu ng Torre de Manila ay isang ehemplo ng kawalang pakialam ng mga taong hindi gumagawa ng mga responsibilidad nila. Ipinapakita nila ang ugaling “reactive” o pag-aksyon lamang kung may nangyari nang pinsala, sa halip na umaksyon habang maaga pa upang maiwasan ang mga problema, na kung tawagin naman ay “preventive”.

Ang National Historical Institute ay ilang metro lang ang layo mula sa ginagawang Torre de Manila. Nasa tabi lamang ito ng National Library of the Philippines. Ang National Commission on Culture and the Arts ay nasa Intramuros lang na hindi kalayuan mula dito. Ang Manila City Hall ay ganoon din. Bulag ba ang mga taong inaasahan umaksiyon noon pa mang umabot na sa kwestiyonableng taas ang gusali kaya hindi pa man tapos ay nakita na ang epekto nito sa rebulto ni Rizal, kaya tinawag na “photo bummer”? Bingi ba sila upang hindi marinig ang mga nag-iingay nang mga taong nababahala? Hindi ba sila marunong magbasa upang hindi maintindihan ang mga balita sa mga diyaryo ang tungkol dito? Kung sasabihin nilang nakagapos ang mga kamay nila dahil sa mahihinang batas na nagpo-protekta sa mga bantayog o shrines, bakit hindi sila nagpanukala ng mga ito noon pa man?

Ngayon ay nagtuturuan sila kung sino ang may kasalanan. Napag-alaman din na miyembro pala ng Knights of Rizal ang mga “matitinik” na taga-Maynila tulad ng dating mayor na si Alfredo Lim at mismong nakaupong mayor na si Erap Estrada. Marami ang nagtataka kung bakit wala silang kibo. Ngayon pa lang ay may mga lumulutang na kuwento tungkol sa pagkasangkot ng ilang kagawad ng konseho ng Maynila, at kung sa anong bagay ay hindi na kailangang sabihin pa.

Dahil sa isyu ng Torre de Manila, naungkat tuloy ang mga kwestiyon din sa pagpa-privatize ng mga palengke, na siyempre ay bentahan ng mga public facilities na ito sa mga pribadong grupo. Bakit kailangang i-privatize ganoong pinagkikitaan din naman ng local government, at nasisiguro pa ang kapakanan ng mga nagtitinda dahil napapanatili ang upang kaya nila, kaya wala silang dahilan upang magtaas ng mga presyo? Kung ang maayos na pagmintina ang hinahabol, hindi ba ito kayang gawin ng City Hall?

Noon, nagkaroon ng pagtatangka ang Manila City Halol na ilabas sa Maynila ang Manila Zoo at gawing basketball stadium ang mababakante nitong espasyo. Mabuti na lang at naagapang hindi matuloy dahil marami ang nagreklamo. Hindi malayong ang tangka ay mauulit dahil nagkakaroon na ng lakas ng loob ang mga taong nagpupursige nito. Marami na kasi ang mga naipalusot na iba pang proyekto na kung tawagin sa Ingles ay “precedent”.

Ang hindi ginagawa ng gobyernong lokal sa tulong ng MMDA ay ang paglinis ng mga maliliit na ilog at estero na ngayon ay namumuwalan ng basura at water lily. Hihintayin na naman nilang magkabahaan bago magkumahog sa pagkilos. At, kasunod ng pagkukumahog ay, tulad ng inaasahan pa rin…ang pagturuan at pagsisi na naman sa mga kawawang residente na burara daw kaya kung saan saan lang nagtatapon ng basura, ganoong hindi naman hinahakot ang basurang maayos nilang tinatapos sa mga nakatalagang lugar.

Ang Mga Kapabayaan sa Pilipinas…kabulukang nakakasulasok at nakakasuka!

Ang mga Kapabayaan sa Pilipinas

…kabulukang nakakasulasok at nakakasuka!

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Napakaraming kapabayaan ang maibabato sa pamahalaan na nagresulta sa pagkawala ng respeto ng mga mananamantala sa gobyerno. Dahil dito, nadadamay ang kabuuhang pagkatao ng mga Pilipino na nawalan na dignidad o dangal.

Ang isang halimbawa ay ang pagpipilit ng DMCI, developer ng Torre de Manila na  ituloy ang pagpapagawa kahit may TRO na noon pa man. Mula sa apat ay naging pito, hanggang nabisto na ang gusto palang ipatayo ay isang high-rise condo na may 49 palapag. Tinagurian itong “national photo bummer” dahil kapag nagpakuha ang mga namamasyal sa Luneta ng litrato sa harap ng rebulto ni Rizal, litaw na litaw ang ginagawang gusali. Ngayon, gusto pa ng Supreme Court na bayaran ang DMCI kung mahihinto ang proyekto nila, ganoong sa simula pa lang ay alam na ng kumpanyang mali sila, at nagpapalusot lamang sa tulong ng mga tiwaling opisyal ng pamahalaan, lalo pa at nagsimula na pala silang magpre-selling maraming buwan na ang nakaraan. Walang ginawa ang administrasyon ni Aquino ganoong ang usapin ay isang national issue.

Dahil naman sa walang humpay na nangyayaring korapsyon sa gobyerno, ang tingin sa ating bansa ay basura na. Kahit sa kapit-bansang Malaysia ay may mga adverstisement na hindi ligtas ang manirahan at magnegosyo sa Pilipinas. Sa larangan naman ng turismo, kung ilang beses nang napasama sa listahan ng mga bansang dapat iwasan ang Pilipinas. Nasundan pa ito ng pagdagsa ng halos isandaang malalaking container vans na puno ng basura mula sa Canada. Hindi na nirerespeto ang Pilipinas dahil ang mismong namumuno ay walang political will.

Ang nasa isip ng mga banyagang gustong manamantala sa Pilipinas ay makakalusot sila basta may nakahandang milyones na panlagay sa mga opisyal. Hindi maiwasang isipin nila ito dahil may mga pruweba nang ginagaya naman ng iba, hanggang umabot sa halos wala nang katapusang pang-aabuso ang lahat. Lumalaki ang problemang kinakaharap  ng mga Pilipino dahil malalim na ang inabot ng ugat ng korapsyon sa gobyerno. Paano pang mabubunot ang ugat sa ngayon, kung mismong namumuno ay walang pakialam sa mga nangyayari sa kanyang paligid?

Mismong sa loob ng bakuran ng bansa, nagkalat ang mga basura – sa kalye at mga estero, bukod pa sa paligid ng mga slum areas. May mga ahensiya ngang itinalaga pero wala namang ginagawa. Sa mga estero o daluyan ng tubig nga lang, hinahayaang kumapal ang mga basura at water liliy, kaya kapag inabutan ng malakas na ulan umaapaw ang mga ito na nagdudulot ng matinding baha. Oo nga’t may kasalanan din ang mga tao, subali’t ano ang gagawin nila kung ang basurang inilagay naman nila ng maayos sa mga pick-up points ay hindi hinahakot ng mga trak ng basura sa tamang oras?

Maliliit na mga isla at kalat-kalat na nga lang ang Pilipinas, tatambakan pa ng basura ng ibang bansa at mismong mga naninirahan, ano pa ang aasahang mangyari?…ang sagot ay dusa na idudulot ng sakit mula sa amoy ng basura, at lason na tatagas sa mga daluyan ng tubig sa ilalim ng lupa o bukal, na iniinom ng mga tao!

Negligence Plus Corruption Equals Disaster

Negligence Plus Corruption Equals Disaster
By Apolinario Villalobos

The latest fire disaster in Valenzuela that is now considered as the worst to date has again put under scrutiny how local governments units and government agencies operate. As expected, the ongoing investigation is hampered by appalling finger-pointing among parties concerned. With the glaring building violations committed by the owner of the factory, can’t the investigators at least start from that point? And, then go further by asking who conducted the inspection and made the recommendation for the issuance of the building permit? They can check also the negligence of the welder. Finally, proceed as to who issued, or better, signed the building permit? Why the owners of the factory are still scot-free, is also one big question, and there is no indication whatsoever that they are being investigated! How can the local government and the law enforcing agencies be that lenient and numb to the reality?

The latest disaster just confirms that the operating system of the government cannot be trusted as it is pockmarked with dishonesty, corruption and negligence. The latter happens when, in the processing of building permits, no follow-ups by government offices concerned are made for delayed submission of requirements that should be an alarming signal for fishy goings-on between the implementing personnel and the clients. Such negligence eventually results to the oversight – with folders containing incomplete required documents, and only when disaster occurs, do they recall having overlooked incomplete transactions….but, only after lives have been wasted!

Disaster drills, though, required are neglected for implementation by many companies. If ever pressed for the holding of such, they are done half-heartedly, so that employees fail to have a notion on what to do in case the real disaster occurs. Inspecting agencies that require them just shrug their shoulders and don’t give a damn. In some cases, approvals are even given in exchange for favors. In this regard, a friend who used to work as an inspection officer of a local government unit was able to buy a brand new car from this kind of endeavor. He honestly admitted that he resigned as he had been bothered by his conscience and suffered from sleepless nights.

With the onset of the school opening, we expect well-publicized and supposedly full blast “inspections” of dormitories and boarding houses for students. Expect too, the pronouncements of inspectors as regards the number of establishments that they ordered closed, to show the world that they are diligently doing their job – supported with photos. Allow two months or a little more and everything will be again back to “normal”. It is always like that. Do we then, have to continuously wonder and exclaim a big “why”, every time people are trapped and died in buildings without fire exit or with malfunctioning water sprinklers?

On the other hand and in all honesty, if the law on fire prevention and building safety will be implemented strictly, for sure, only a handful structures, from homes to commercial buildings will be left standing!

The Metropolitan Theater of Manila…a showcase of grave neglect

The Metropolitan Theater of Manila
…a showcase of grave neglect
By Apolinario Villalobos

The Metropolitan Theater of Manila has stood for decades as the symbol of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Even during the Japanese occupation, it persisted in operating, and was even used as a front for the underground movement that raised funds for the prisoners of war. During the time of Ferdinand Marcos, it was rehabilitated, and once more, became the venue of classic stage plays and operas, along with the newly-built Cultural Center of the Philippines. Unfortunately, when he was deposed, administrations that took over, utterly neglected the important cultural edifice.

Today, the theater is in such a forlorn state – dilapidated, with tiles peeling off, gardens left to the mercy of grasses, the galleries and lounges thick with dust, and walls feasted on by termites.

Ironically, just behind the theater is the Universidad de Manila that can possibly use it as an auditorium for their social activities. A few steps from the university is the Manila City Hall. And, still a few steps away is a mini-park that used to be called Mehan Garden, now full of overnight staying vagrants. A little further away is the National Museum. Across the street, on the other side of Taft Avenue is the Intramuros, while the famous Post Office, another important landmark of Manila stands, with its imposing fountain.

How can the city government of Manila and the Department of Tourist neglect such cornucopia of historic and touristic landmarks with its own cultural centerpiece, the Metropolitan Theater? How can they miss the stinking and deteriorating Metropolitan Theater that has become a sore thumb at the heart of the city? How can the city officials look far and beyond what needs immediate rehabilitation? The city officials talk about the eternal traffic which has no remedy in sight, as a publicity stunt. They talk about sanitation when just around the City Hall, corners stink with urine and human waste. The cluster of landmarks that should serve as the centerpiece of the city’s touristic showcase, and which is just a few steps from the City Mayor’s office is left to the mercy of negligence.

As an unsolicited suggestion, why not turnover the Metropolitan Theater to the Universidad de Manila for their administration and make it self-liquidating? Part of the rehab program could be the re-opening its office spaces to generate revenue. Schools can be encouraged to make use of the theater for their stage plays and other scholastic activities at minimal cost. Even assistance from international NGOs that advocate culture-related projects can be sought.

Unless something is done for the Metropolitan Theater of Manila, the unthinkable negligence can add up to the mounting culpabilities of both the Manila city government and the Department of Tourism.

The Pitifully Neglected Sectors of the Philippine Society

The Pitifully Neglected Sectors
Of the Philippine Society
By Apolinario Villalobos

During my stint with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) way back in the late ‘70s, the agency had a bureau for the family and child welfare. If ever the agency has maintained such targeted sector of the society which I view as a must, I cannot fathom why the streets and nooks of cities, especially, Manila still teem with many mentally-deficient (taong grasa), beggars and rugby-sniffing boys and girls.

I do not expect the streets to be totally free of these compatriots, but the DSWD’s effort should be consistent, realistic, and visibly manifested in many ways. However, it is only when the city is expecting visits of foreign dignitaries that the local government units and the DSWD round up the vagrants and practically “haul” them to “compounds” as an effort to hide them from the sight of the said visitors, to give the city streets a semblance of “cleanliness”. As soon as the dignitaries take their flights out of the country, the vagrants are again let loose.

One classic example of this hypocritical and inconsistent effort of the government was the rounding up of the families and street children living on sidewalks along the routes of Pope Francis, during his visit. Those rounded up were brought to an expensive resort outside of Manila, to purportedly have them undergo a “seminar” on a program only the DSWD guys know. Can’t they conduct the “seminar” in Manila and in less expensive venue to save on cost?

On the other hand, the DSWD until now is being questioned on its unbelievably big budget that it is supposed to spend for the lessening of the difficulties of poor Filipino families living in depressed areas. In time however, as expected, and being the culture of Filipinos that easily forgets, such question died down as it gets overwhelmed by more showbiz-like issues, that could easily earn media mileage for “concerned” congressmen and senators.

The decentralization of this concern making local government units (LGUs) directly responsible for the mentioned members of society should not be cited as an alibi to free the DSWD from its responsibilities, as this is tantamount to passing the buck. As the LGUs have become the direct responsible parties, what will the DSWD do? An exposé on the squalid facilities of Manila City for the street children has brought forth its questionable professional capability. And, as usual, to free itself from total liability, the LGU cried out loud for the lack of budget! Finger-pointing again ensued.

Aside from the street children, others that deserve attention are the mentally-deficient and the beggars. These vagrants pathetically roam city streets to beg for food or rummage among the piles of garbage for morsels, as well as, expose themselves to the elements when they pitifully sleep on sidewalks every night. The non-government organizations and shelters have become alternatives as regards this matter. But they should not be depended on totally as they also rely on grants from private organizations and charitable individuals. Some of them may be lucky to draw attention from the government. Unfortunately, these NGOs are also used by the government agencies as excuses to garner big budgets, but with only insignificant chunk actually reaching the former as “beneficiaries”.

What the country needs are honest-to-goodness social workers, well-trained volunteers, and most especially, realistic assistance programs for the aforementioned neglected sectors of our society. The programs should be the kind that could develop self-respect and self-sufficiency. The DSWD should go deeper into the reasons why these people are living on sidewalks, although, the obvious primary ones are the quest for financial opportunity in the case of families, and neglect of parents in the case of street children, to enable them to come up with appropriate solutions.

What is happening now is that the DSWD and LGUs are practically just waiting for referrals. There is no initiative whatsoever from them to go out of their offices and to reach out to these needy Filipinos. They wait until somebody brings a “case” to them on whom they compose a “case study”. There is no sincerity in their effort and in carrying out their job. In other words, their job is seemed to be limited to just making case studies.

When I visited a nationally-known orphanage, I was told by the staff that they were also getting financial assistance from a government agency, but when asked how often, they kept silent. I noticed three issues of coffee table books about the orphanage and when I browsed through their pages, I found prominently displayed, faces of government officials, especially the agency head with a grand smile as if announcing to the reader that she has done something great for the orphanage! The publications were obviously made as tools to advertise the “accomplishments” of the agency and its chief, at the expense of the orphanage. Expectedly, the expenses for the publications were shouldered by the government agency. While still browsing through the pages, what came into my mind were the plunder cases filed against Napoles for projects with budgets supposedly swollen with commission, and in cahoots with corrupt government officials.

The government is so sick and pestered with sores that nauseatingly smell of corruption and exploitation. While the aforementioned neglected sectors of the Philippine society do not require billions of pesos for their rehabilitation and sustenance, corrupt government officials are steadily and brazenly getting obese for having unlimited appetite as they devour what are not theirs – the honest taxpayers’ money.