Whatever the result of last Monday’s elections, the return to normalcy in the province will happen before the week is over, or when the cash from vote-buying candidates run out.
Those who won, either by capturing a most-coveted post or getting reelected, will have more than seven weeks to bask in the glow of victory and enjoy the congratulatory handshakes.
Those who lost, depending on how much they spent on their campaign, will either go on a self-imposed home quarantine until the end of June or go about their normal routines.
The pain will linger a little longer for defeated incumbents, who would have to report for work until noon of June 30 and endure never-ending questions on why he or she lost.
For local chief executives on their way out, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has already laid out what they are supposed to do in their last days in power.
Last March 10, 2022, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued Memorandum Circular No. 2022-29 directing all provincial governors and city/municipal mayors to prepare for the effective turnover of responsibilities to ensure continuity in local governance.
The chief executives are required to create a Local Governance Transition Team which they would head, with all department heads, a DILG representative, the Secretary to the Sanggunian and a representative from a Civil Security Organization as representatives.
The team is supposed to conduct an inventory of all LGU properties, preserve all official documents or records, turn over accountabilities, and organize the turnover ceremony for the incoming local officials.
In addition, the LGU is also tasked to conduct an inventory of all on-going projects such as roads, buildings, water supply and sanitation, and other development projects to include data on physical accomplishment and financial status.
This would not be a problem for governors and mayors who have performed well and have scrupulously complied with auditing and accounting rules and regulations.
But for those who have committed shenanigans while in office, seven weeks would not be enough to erase any trace of irregularities especially if actual physical records are already circulating.
Infrastructure contracts far from completion but which have been reported to be finished to allow payment to the dummy contractor would be first on the list.
Woe to the contractor whose company was used in the contract; the next administration would not be as friendly.
This was the unfortunate experience of one NCR-based construction firm who was asked by a chief executive to handle the building of an iconic structure in Virac.
The firm coughed up millions of pesos for the campaign of the chief executive’s kin as an advance for the contract commission.
When the candidate lost, the company had to give a separate SOP to the new LCE.
By this time, the people already know who won or lost.
If they still see the same graft-ridden politician in charge of the town by July, then all the noise against his or her irregularities have been silenced by vote-buying cash.
To those interested in knowing how much the winner’s license to steal cost each voter annually, just divide the amount he or she gave by three.
Rare is the election winner who will not recover what he or she gave away.
Most people would have to be content with what they got in last Monday’s transaction: a Durabox, a new cellphone, new clothes and shoes, a sack of Sinandomeng rice, and a taste of expensive pork pulutan drowned by shots of Johnny Walker Black or his preferred liquor.
Such is life in the Happy Island: three years of struggling to feed one’s family, punctuated by two or three days of shopping spree.