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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, December 5, 2012
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‘Clash rooms’


“Ridiculous” was the reported initial reaction of Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez when Gov. Alfredo Marañon, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who voted to authorize the P10 million loan to fund the construction of 24 classrooms for the Negros Occidental Provincial High School, and the alumni and faculty of the school, decided to raise funds for it from voluntary contributions.

Alvarez probably did not realize what his words meant because, actually, the action of the volunteers was to ridicule him and his SP members who are making a lot of inane justifications for refusing to authorize the governor.

The proposal of the students, the faculty and alumni of NOHS appears intended to make them look absurd in the public eye. But when the move became a reality, Alvarez took a step back and practically endorsed the idea when he said later that it was okay.

The clash in the SP on the issue of the school rooms is not ridiculous or funny. It is serious and the NOHS family is taking the matter so seriously that they have mobilized to raise the funds to show that their purpose is not ridiculous.

I wrote last that time NOHS might have only ten percent of the population of Bacolod but their parents and grandparents are alumni of NOHS and in fact, their alumni association is one of the most active groups in this province. The homecomings are filled with people from the towns and cities of the province and they are prominent or leading citizens of their communities. Many of their members are abroad so that this fund-raising should be taken seriously by Alvarez and his companions in the SP.

The move of the NOHS family indicates that they do not buy the explanation of the anti-NOHS SP members. Indeed their explanations cannot hold water before a thinking man.

One of them, for instance said that there is money so there is no need to borrow. But if there is money, where is it? One said the governor should wait for the next education budget which means, next year. It did not occur to this SP member from Kabankalan that the need is NOW and not next year.

This SP member is holding office in an air-conditioned room, rides an air-conditioned vehicle, and sleeps surely in an air-conditioned bedroom. If he had taken a minute to pass by the school, he would have seen the dire situation there. But he did not bother because he is comfortable with his family’s control of the voters of Kabankalan and he need not please anybody.

Alvarez and another SP member parroted him, about the P500,000 in interest. If they bothered to compute the cost of inflation on construction materials, they would have known that the interest of the loan is much cheaper. But if they had, then they would have no issue against Marañon and it looks as if they sorely need one.

Another SP member said they have already complied with their legal responsibility. Have they? If he had bothered to check, he would have known that the P10 million forms part of the commitment of the province to replace the classrooms the province demolished.

Even granting that they have already fulfilled their legal responsibility, is everything to be reduced to legal terms? Is there any sense about moral obligation? Are they bereft of this that they reduces everything into legal terms?

Of course, the classic claim of Alvarez is that a classroom of this specification should cost only P650,000 and I asked that he be given this contract and find out if he can indeed construct a classroom of this specification at this amount.

A contractor dealing with the DPWH said that that amount is out of this world and in fact, reports have it that the DPWH classrooms (2-storey) in his own district costs an average of P1.2 million, and that is only for this structure without provisions for more classrooms on top.

In fact, one contractor said he can construct a classroom at P200,000 but there is no guarantee it can carry a heavier load than galvanized roofing and a ceiling.

This raising of funds other than relying on the partisan SP has its own good outcomes. It exposes the kind of people seeking public office in the province.

By the way they are acting, aren’t they like robots responding to orders regardless of what they make of themselves?*

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