Sunday, November 9, 2008

A new hospital is hazardous to health, it will increase our debt

I do not question the motive of Gov. Natalio Beltran III for wanting to have a new hospital in the province. Neither do I begrudge the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for easily surrendering itself to the wish of the governor without thorough study or debate. They are just being true to their nature as political mercenaries.

Resolution No. 07-2008-66 is a debt trap. It is consigning the future of the province into the hands of the banks which will collect, no matter what.

When the three SP committees—Health, Ways and Means, and Legal Affairs acquired jurisdiction of Gov. Beltran’s letter, the proper thing they should have done was to summon the governor to explain and justify his request.

They didn’t. Instead, the members of the SP, bless them for their laziness, read it to the letter and acted on it as if the end of days will come if they didn’t.

Perhaps, Fred Dorado, Health Committee chair, Gil Moreno, Ways and Means Committee chair, and Geminiano Galicia Jr., Legal Affairs Committee chair, were so afraid of the governor or they have so much faith in his wisdom that they treated his letter as biblical fiat.

Well, the letter was just a letter. It was short and did not contain any earth-shaking justification that a new loan is needed to build a new hospital.

The worst—and Romblomanons should rise in indignation over this—was that the SP resolution authorizes the governor to do not just ONE but TWO acts.

The first is to secure and/or negotiate a loan “FROM ANY BANKING AND/OR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION”, and the second is to “PURCHASE HOSPITAL/MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES.”

See how clearly the SP granted Beltran a blank check? Any bank means any bank. If and when he gets the money, he will torn down the old provincial hospital and erect a new one, and then buy the hospital equipment and supplies. All these in the hands of one elected public official whose management experience is razor thin!

Question: Why does Beltran want to become a loan negotiator as well as purchasing officer, instead of just remaining a governor for which he was elected to? I leave your imagination to answer this quiz. Include in the calculation the commission that will be paid by the contractors and the suppliers. To whom? Guess.

Waya purchasing officer ka kapitolyo? Asi riin gi tuyaghot kag budget officer, health officer ag provincial accountant it probinsiya? They are the proper persons to do the above tasks.

Oh, yes, I forgot. There is a provincial accountant who, incidentally, certified that as of December 31, 2007, the province has still an outstanding loan of P103.551 million, consisting of the principal of P73.551 million and interest of P56.587 million. This loan was contracted when? Four years ago? By whom? By then Governor Budoy Madrona?

Now, if the members of the SP were sane, they would not have granted the authority the moment they see our provincial debt. It’s gargantuan. Can we pay?

The SP said it doesn’t know. Look, here is a legislative body, being asked of an authority to contract a loan, but doesn’t know—because it refuses to know—if the province can afford to pay it. Why do I know that the SP doesn’t know?

Here, from the excerpts of the minutes of the regular session when this issue was taken up. Read:

“With this (sic) figures given (Note: The SP was referring to the outstanding loan and interest), the committee members were unanimous in saying that insofar as the CAPACITY of the province to secure for (sic) another loan is concerned, it is solely the BANK which can certify as to whether or not the province can still afford to secure another loan.”

Omigosh. This is one of the dumbest arguments I have ever heard. Mautang ka pero buko nimo sador kung kaya nimong magbadar? Ni-oy rang!

For two years now (and thank God we only have one more year to suffer this idiocy in our provincial legislative body), the SP has been deliberating on the provincial budget so that it should know the province’s financial health. But it doesn’t.

Read further: “It was agreed that in case the Governor is given the authority, he should first secure a certification from Land Bank whether the province can still secure for (sic) a loan and can pay it without sacrificing its development thrust.”

Well, the governor was granted authority. Well, SP member Benjamin Irao, could you please ask the governor if he had secured this certification?

Of course, honorable members of the SP, you can’t borrow money without sacrificing something—in this case, the province’s development thrust. Why? Because the loan—big or small—will eat up something from the budget in the form of principal and interest payments.

We don’t need the Land Bank to tell us this. A good father knows that when he has just enough money and has a debt to pay, he has to forego something, some necessities maybe, or even a few luxury, just to make both ends meet. That’s fiscal responsibility. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand this. But you can’t understand this, even if it’s so simple, if you are a member of the SP because of your blind obedience, like a dog's, to your master at the capitol.

Is there a remedy to this stupidity of another loan?

Yes, there is. What SP members Manuel Madrid and Benjamin Irao could do is to move for the recall of the authority in the next SP session.

I know. You are clearly outnumbered, but just try. By trying, you will not only expose the callous manners of your fellow legislators who voted for the authority, but you will also demonstrate to the Romblomanons that there is hope, however remote, in restoring decency in your exalted positions.

Comments, even criticisms, are welcome. Text them to 0917 623 8842 or email them at, or .

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