“The most powerful person is he who is able to do least himself and burden others most with the things for which he lends his name and pockets the credit.” Theodor Adorno
By Alex P. Vidal
If the recent inspection of commercial warehouses in Iloilo that yielded several re-bagged NFA rice was meant to really curb the activities of unscrupulous rice retailers, authorities should have done it periodically in the past.
Not only before or during the visits of VIPs from Malacanang or any high-ranking politician with eyes for a higher office in the next elections.
While we doff our hats off the inspection team led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Western Visayas on a warehouse in Brgy. Napnud, Leganes, Iloilo where 1,500 sacks of re-packed government rice were recovered last July 31, we can’t blame some observers if they suspect that it was only done to deodorize the name of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Franciso “Kiko” Pangilinan, who arrived in Iloilo together with NFA Administrator Arthur Juan to inspect the warehouse and the repacking equipment complete with media blare.
All over Western Visayas or in the entire country for that matter, more sacks of repacked NFA grains can be discovered if authorities are only doing their job religiously.
They can always conduct a raid on these warehouses and send a strong message against other erring accredited rice retailers even without the presence of Pangilinan, et al.
The Leganes, Iloilo NBI operation only gave Pangilinan, a rumored vice presidential candidate of the Liberal Party in 2016, a gargantuan publicity and pogi points he needs to prop up his vice presidential ambition.
We expect him to occupy the front seats of media publicity in future warehouse “inspections” now that the ratings of his potential rivals for the second highest position of the country has sharply declined.
Never mind Administrator Juan, who is really fit for the job and has been performing effectively even without any publicity in the past. He had to accompany Pangilinan and other NFA officials from Iloilo and Capiz as part of his routine.
Other than reporting the matter to the President and posing for TV and newspaper cameras, Pangilinan had no business being in that warehouse after the area has been cleared by the NBI.
This is the problem when traditional politicians like Pangilinan are gifted with appointment portfolio by the President for being a party stalwart.
Aside from giving them access to government resources they can use and abuse to advertise their names, they also grab credits from “lowly” government employees like the NBI agents during special operations like the inspection in the Leganes, Iloilo warehouse, discovered to be registered under the name of Dennis de Vicente, a businessman from San Enrique, Iloilo.
Politicians like Pangilinan are always quick to arrive in the “crime” scene and pose for media photos.
In terms of publicity stunt, it appears like Pangilinan and other traditional politicians have mastered the art of timing.
They can also easily attract the attention of some reporters who mention their names more often than the names of members of the raiding team responsible for the seizure of the repacked sacks and other equipment.
The news headline speaks loudly: “Pangilinan orders prove into NFA rice diversion”; as if it only happened for the first time in the Philippines and the investigation ordered by Pangilinan was necessary to stop the rice retailers’ illegal activities.
It turned like as if the warehouse inspection became successful because Pangilan is the country’s food czar, not because the NBI and their tipsters, the unsung heroes, did their assignment diligently.