But there are no rains, stupid

    LIKE AN old, old, LP – that’s the long-playing record of yore, to you i-pod generation – so scratched from too much playing on the hi-fi turntable that it could only rumble and crackle nonsense.

    That is Gov. Eddie T. Panlilio’s stock answer to the slippage, no, make that plunge, tremendous as it is, in the quarry collections: “prolonged rains, fall in infrastructure developments, the Bamban-Mabalacat boundary dispute (over rich laharland).” And a newly-minted one: “possible neglect among quarry checkers.”

    In the past four months from July, a steady, monthly drop of P8 million in the quarry collections has been noted, compared with that for the same period in 2007.

    At last Wednesday’s distribution of the October quarry shares, 34 barangays and 10 towns had to make do with a measly P4.861 million. The quarry pie did indeed go the way of the pan de sal – shrinking, shrinking. To the size of a biscuit now, a tiny cookie later, and a weenie crumb in the end?

    Twitted Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao of Panlilio’s reasons on the dwindling quarry collection: “Baseless and without solid economic rationale.” Translation: whimsy, irrational.

    “The reasons being cited by the governor are actually unfounded, he is saying it’s because of the rains, but we have not had long rains in the past few months. If he claims such, he should have solid, factual and scientific basis for such claims.” So Guiao easily demolished Panlilio’s argument. 

    But the Reverend Governor could not be contained. He gave the assurance that the skid in the quarry collections would be arrested, and would pick up again sometime soon.

    That, he says, would come with the implementation next month of Ordinance 261 – “An Ordinance Requiring All Owners of Motor Vehicles, Transporting Sand and Gravel, and Quarry Operators in Pampanga to Strictly Comply with Republic Act 8794.”

    If we remember right, this is the anti-overloading ordinance that was pushed at the sangguniang panlalawigan by the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) of Rene Romero and Abong Tayag after their earlier proposal for the same gathered dust and fed the mites in Panlilio’s desk.

    It was the SP that enthusiastically welcomed ADCL’s proposal and brought in all the stakeholders – the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Land Transportation Office, the police, the quarry operators, the truckers, even the media – at the hearings conducted before the ordinance came to pass.

    A major proviso in Ordinance 261 is the imposition of 25 percent of the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) on trucks and trailers “for loading beyond their prescribed gross vehicle weight, provided, that no axle load shall exceed 13,500 kilograms.”

    Parrots Panlilio now: “In this ordinance, we could see that there would be an increase in quarry collection since those who have been hauling more than what they are supposed to haul will have to comply with the minimum requirement. This, in turn requires trucks to haul more by traveling back and forth.”

    Okay. But still far from good.

    The ordinance, even if it indeed resulted to higher quarry collections, would be no more than a stop-gap measure. So it is there. But the thing is still to come to terms with the true – and proven – cause of the current plunge in the collections.  From P1 million a day last year, down to less than P500,000 a day this year. That merits a thorough investigation not to be readily dismissed off with the no-rain irrationalization. There indeed is something amiss there – “neglect among the quarry checkers” not only possible but highly probable, and most certainly criminal.

    For a start, Panlilio should stop comparing his “impressive” quarry collection with those of the previous administration. He accomplished setting the new benchmark – P1 million a day. That should now serve as the basis for comparison.

    And it is not with the Lapids, stupid. It is Panlilio – last year, that Panlilio – this year, should compare himself with. Then he can assume some logic.


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