Bloated Bureaucracy and Misplaced Priorities
The Leonardia administration bureaucracy is probably one of the most bloated class A city, with misplaced priorities, in the country.
It has 2,652 personnel as of 2008, of which 1,646 are permanent personnel, 1,006 are plantilla casuals or with non-permanent items, and 14 political appointees acting as the Mayor’s executive assistants, with each heading a cluster of divisions.
There are also an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 contractuals and job orders regularly hired for specific services.
In terms of deployment by office, the City Mayor’s Office has a total of 448 employees.
This is followed by City Engineer’s Office (301), Department of Public Services (241), Socio–Economic Services Unit (203), City Health Office (199), City Treasurer’s Office (186), General Services Office (170), Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (146), and SP/Legislative Offices (115);
City Social Services Department (86), Veterinary and Slaughterhouse Office (76), Office of Building Official and City Accountant with 50 each, City Assessor’s Office (43), City Library, City Planning Development Office and Civil Registry with 35 each, City Schools Superintendent (33), Department of Agriculture (31), Bacolod City Council (25), City Population Office (23), Budget Office (21), Human Resources Department (17), Cooperative and Livelihood (13), DILG (11), MIT/Computer (9), City Tourism (5), and City Prosecutor and Register of Deeds with three each.
Overall, 448 are in the Mayor’s office, while 962 are in various administrative support offices, or a total of 1,410 occupying administrative positions. A total of 1,242 are in various social support services, but offices involved in direct social services have only 602 employees.
Comparatively, 55 percent of the City Hall’s regular employees are in administrative offices and 25 percent are in support offices. Only 20 percent are in direct social services.
Data further show that of the total number of employees, 60 percent are civil service personnel, while 40 percent were hired on qualifications other than merit and fitness, as the law requires – in other words, political protégés who failed to meet the qualification standards prescribed for government positions.
All these suggest that political patronage is decisive in the appointment of non-career officials occupying executive positions and a bigger number of casuals.
According to former CSC (Civil Service Commission) chairman Karina David, this is a clear abuse of authority and attributable to the “worsening politicization” and “unprofessional behavior” of the government bureaucracy in general.
A Government of Dynasty, Patrons and Crooks
The stories and reports about “pamilya incorporada”, political patrons, crooks, and liars in the Leonardia bureaucracy are not without basis. They have caused the loss of millions in people’s money, which could have otherwise been directed to economic relief for the majority of Bacolodnons who are wallowing in miserable conditions.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) Region VI has, since 2005, issued countless Official Observation Reports admonishing the Mayor and city officials to account for sundry questionable expenses; for donations for flood and other calamity-prone areas; huge amounts of unliquidated cash advances, loans, travel expenses, issued with questionable processes; questionable purchases of supplies, equipment, and property. The CoA repeatedly reminded city officials almost every year to follow strictly accounting and auditing standards.
Alleged scams and irregularities have not ceased to hound the Leonardia administration. Among the most pronounced and badly-criticized are the 11 Ombudsman cases involving the allegedly overpriced and illegal P395-million construction of the new government center; the multimillion-peso Grade 3 textbooks scam; the multimillion-peso computer sets project scam; the unexplained P262-million traveling and related expenses in 2005; the huge and unexplained P18.9-million personnel cash advances as of November 2007; the P72.6-million cash advances for fuel and gasoline expenses in 2007; the unexplained P68 million in the city’s reforestation project in 2005 and average of P28 million spent in the same program from 2006 to 2007; the P10-million overprice in the bidding for 10 six-wheeler dumptrucks from Manila-based Commercial Motors Corporation in 2007-2008; the P4-million rental of 10 dumptrucks in March 2008; the questionable P4 million in fuel expenses from P10 M fund for dredging project in Barangay Banago in November 2007; and the unauthorized donation of P4 million to the Silver Maskara Festival Organization Inc. in September 2007.
Other on-going transactions clouded with irregularities are the Sangguniang Panglunsod’s approval of P23.4 million for the purchase of the Lopez-owned six-hectare dumpsite in Barangay Feliza at P360 per square meter, when there are other offers at P100 to P150 per square meter only and when the DENR has already issued an evaluation report that the Lopez property is not suitable for use as a dumpsite and is highly hazardous to the community.
There are also the highly questionable appropriation of P50 million for the purchase of fixtures and furniture for the new government center and awarding of a contract to a questionable bidder; the Sangguniang Panglunsod appropriation of P7 million for the new government center’s electric connection to Transco, when the NEA (National Electrification Administration) and Transco have not yet approved the city’s connection proposal.
There are also the proposed repeal of City Ordinance 321 as justification for the removal of the 20-percent ceiling on personnel component of city’s projects; the amendment of city’s Revenue Code to give more powers to the city government to impose higher taxes.