Except for the fuel price increase that was implemented this Dec. 20, some good news came for the inflation-hit Catandunganons this Christmas season.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) provided the early gift to the island by inaugurating its Civil Registry System (CRS) outlet at its Virac office last Dec. 9.
This means islanders need not brave the rough seas of the Maqueda channel just to secure copies of birth, marriage and death certificates in the mainland and then wait two to three weeks for the actual copy to arrive by courier.
Now, all one has to do is join the queue at the PSA Catanduanes Provincial Statistical Office in Cavinitan, fill up the form, pay for the service and then wait for an hour to claim the requested document.
To make things sweeter, residents of the other 10 towns need not go to Virac to avail of the same service as their respective local governments have executed separate agreements with PSA on the Batch Request Query System (BREQS) that would allow their constituents to file their requests with the local civil registry office, which will then submit the same to the Virac CRS Outlet.
This is what good government means for the common tao: being able to address bottlenecks in the bureaucracy and implement solutions in the field.
This week, Malacanang announced the grant of a P20,000.00 Service Recognition Incentive (SRI) and one-time rice allowance of 25 kilos for all government personnel for this year.
Both benefits, announced through administrative orders issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., covered all employees of the national government, who should receive the boon by Dec. 20.
Employees of local government units and water districts are also eligible to the SRI and rice subsidy, but the amount of the incentive and rice would depend on their available budget for the expenditure.
The supplemental budget would have to be approved by the Sanggunians before the end of 2022 to enable the LGUs to grant the incentives within the year.
Many suspect that Malacanang extended the incentive to cushion criticism from the public on its inability to deliver on BBM’s campaign promise to lower the price of rice to P20 per kilo.
Another campaign vow that comes to mind is Congressman Eulogio Rodriguez’s proposal to establish a People’s Center that would house the offices of national agencies which have yet to establish their physical presence on the island.
These agencies include the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
Citizens who wish to get passports, secure the NBI clearance and renew professional licenses have to travel to the mainland, with all the journey’s inconveniences and costs, or wait for some politician to sponsor a two-day passporting program of DFA personnel.
For now, the People’s Center remains a dream of the solon, who has to work hard if his vision of the vital agencies all under one roof is to be realized within his three-year term.
His task would probably be easier if he decides to repair relations with the other leaders of the province: Governor Joseph Cua and TGP Rep. Jose Teves Jr., who are at least cooperating with each other in most instances.
As Sorsogon Governor Jose Edwin Hamor told the Tribune recently, true leadership among politicians in any area is proven only if they are able to agree to work for the common good.
This Christmas season, this wish seems far from being granted.
But at least, let the people, especially government workers, celebrate whatever little things that the politicians give them even if it is in aid of reelection.