I actually thought that it’d just be typical of other government pronouncements: grand, probably well-meaning, but slow to come to fruition (that is, if anything ever really comes out of it). Although of course, five weeks ago, I (optimistically) blogged about Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s announcement of a web-based reporting system for erring BIR and Customs personnel, the cynic in me (well nurtured by having spent a good number of my most formative years under GMA’s presidency) took the announcement with a grain of salt.
But lo and behold! A little more than a week ago, I checked on my Facebook invitations and found out that I received a page suggestion for Pera ng Bayan. Pera ng Bayan it turns out, is not only a Facebook fanpage, it has a website counterpart where citizens, under the options "pasado o reklamo", can file reports and submit them directly (at least supposedly) to the Department of Finance.
In the short time it’s been around, Pera ng Bayan, it seems, has been quite a hit. As I write this, it has gathered 812 reports, it’s twitter account has 374 followers, and 4,083 Facebook users have liked the Facebook fanpage.
But, getting people to like the initiative is one thing, getting the initiative to actually produce results is another. Clicking on the “reklamo” tab, I realized that to file a report, one need not actually identify himself, as the registering of one’s email is merely optional. Considering that legal steps will inevitably have to be taken if reports and complaints will ever amount to actual results, it should be obvious that the failure to identify the source of complaints (and thus obtain further information to be able to build cases) could be fatal to the initiative’s objectives. 812 reports too are not exactly an effective gauge of the initiative’s effectiveness; one is reminded of the oft-repeated difference between quantity and quality. For that matter, even if much of the hundreds of reports are of sufficient substance, that begs the question of the government’s capacity to effectively prosecute cases. In line with this, we are reminded of the piles upon piles of cases that the DOJ is already handling; and, recalling P-Noy’s commitment to file two cases every week against big time smugglers and tax evaders, it’s apparent that acting on these reports will not be an easy task.
Then again, it's precisely the lofty promise of effecting change on which this government rides; and with bated breathe, we wait for it to deliver.
LUIS JOSE F. GERONIMO
Entry No. 10