The insolence of office

Mayor Robredo instantly reacted to our article last week (through Willy Prilles; email 01/17/10):

"I just read your Vox Bikol column, which raises the question: "Is "Intermediate" the "Best?""

"I cannot fault you for taking a negative stance on the matter.  It's the classic hall-full glass: in your effort to find fault with the city government, you have chosen to ignore the obvious, which I am quoting below. Funny how you can miss this when it is found on the very same page quoted in your column.

"'The overall FMA score of 'Intermediate' for Naga City reflects its moderately developed level of financial reporting and fairly high level of disclosure, adequate performance in annual budgeting and debt management skills which are more sophisticated than most local peers. On the other hand, the score takes into account the basic practices of Naga in elements of FMA like expenditure management and medium-term planning.'

"'Notably, Naga City's overall FMA score is the highest among assessed Philippines LGUs to date, reflecting the city's more balanced developments in its FMA practices for most key areas, as opposed to some local peers who may demonstrate sound practices in certain elements such as revenue management, but at the same time scoring poorly in other areas like debt management, budgeting etc. Nevertheless, the Naga city government's lack of computerization in most aspects of financial management such as annual budgeting, financial reporting, tax collection and disbursement have emerged as a constraint on these respective scores. A comprehensive computerization of the city's system could potentially see improvement in Naga's overall FMA and individual element scores. (Underscoring mine)'

"So, to answer your question, an "Intermediate" score is the best among Philippine LGUs according to that S&P report. But you opted not to see that, and would not accept it, because you chose to see the glass half-empty, as you always have with the city government."

Oh, well. There again... the "insolence of office," to borrow from Shakespeare, we sovereign citizens must bear if we don't sing alleluia to our public servants.

Anyway, last I checked, numbers are numbers regardless of perception, packaging or spin.

Again, "intermediate" is only a score of 2 on a scale of 0 to 5 (0 = Underdeveloped, Evolving or Poor; 1 = Basic; 2 = Intermediate; 3 = Sound; 4 = Sophisticated; 5 = Advanced). Undeniably, intermediate is a dismal 50% rating. A failing mark.

And speaking of numbers-which Standard and Poor's must have missed since their analysis relies mainly on information given by city officials-Mayor Robredo should tell the truth now about the city's illegal Php2,085,000.00 million loan to SPUKOI way back in 1998 to help Cho Roco's election then as first interim successor. Long exposed by COA, it has yet to be accounted for and repaid.

For that matter, there's no half-full or half-empty hocus-pocus when it's the public trust involved, that is, financial responsibility is to the last centavo.