Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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FIRING LINE: Target: Local executives

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Local government executives are dropping like flies in violent attacks in more numbers than in the weeks that passed.

Upon Speaker Martin Romualdez’s urgent prodding, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have ordered their ground chiefs to monitor threats against LGU officials and congressmen and augment their security detail, if necessary.

Yet last Saturday, six people were killed and over a dozen others wounded in an attack that ensured the death of Governor Roel Degamo, an important political ally of President Marcos who worked for his victory in Negros Oriental.

The killers arrived in three vehicles and reportedly took out the governor, his guards, drivers, medical personnel, and even three provincial department heads present within 30 seconds. If that was not commando-style precision, I don’t know what is.

Degamo, who for months had already informed security officials he was receiving credible threats, had already been riding in a bullet-proof vehicle and changing up his routes to counter the risk. But he did not stand a chance in that kind of attack.

To me, it looks like a message written in blood to the highest seat in Malacanang. A point driven and crashed into the senses of the Chief of all executives of the land that – after high-profile attacks that wounded Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. (Feb. 17), killed Aparri Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda (Feb. 19); and wounded Datu Montawal Mayor Ohto Montawal (Feb. 22) – security for your closest allies can be breached.

“You can run, but you cannot hide… We will find you” is indeed a quote from the President that will land on the front pages, but it better be a promise as good as served. An empty promise would only signal all our society’s rotten, dangerous, and criminal elements to challenge our civil-installed authorities.

The real transport problem

If you’re reading this at home, you’re most likely a collateral victim of the nationwide transport strike that this administration of Junior Marcos has failed to avert.

That’s expected of a leader who was not necessarily groomed as a “graft buster” or even an efficient boss.

It is no longer an insult, a malicious imputation, or even defamatory to say that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is one of the most institutionally corrupt agencies of government.

More than the premature, ill-prepared, and outrageous cost of implementing the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, the issue of the people on strike is corruption in the LTFRB!

You name it: illegal franchising, bribery and kickbacks, lack of transparency, discrimination and favoritism in issuing franchises, turtle-paced processes prone to fixing, complicity to unregulated operations, incompetence in going after violators, etc., etc.

There is a way and a price that is unpublished by the LTFRB. Solve that, Mr. President, and you will have solved a majority of the problems plaguing the transport sector. After that, then you can preach your government’s environment-friendly and efficient modernization program as something more believable than just another monopoly in the pocket of the LTFRB.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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