POSTSCRIPT / February 17, 2019 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Bets must first OK their campaign ads

HOW about requiring television, radio, print and other mass media to broadcast or publish election campaign advertisements only if the ad format includes a statement of the candidate that he/she approves of the ad and consents to its publication?

The ad contract with media should include the candidate’s affirming his approval and consent. His statement does not say who paid for the ad insertion, only that the he consents or approves of it. The candidate’s one-line acknowledgement could be displayed at the bottom of the ad, as is done in other countries.

This proposed rule or guideline can help regulatory bodies and monitoring groups track campaign logistics, improve the sense of accountability of individuals seeking public office, and reduce the election noise and clutter.

As for outdoor advertising, all billboard, tarpaulins, posters, streamers and such materials should similarly carry the candidate’s acknowledgement. Concerned citizens should be empowered to take down poll campaign materials not bearing the candidate’s consent or approval.

A hint of the developing campaign bedlam is that three days into the start of the May 13 race for national positions, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Commission on Elections noted that 40 of the 62 candidates for senator have campaign materials posted in violation of existing rules.

Many of the candidates with offending campaign materials are expected, as in the past, to claim that the questioned paraphernalia were put up without their knowledge. Requiring a statement of consent, as we here propose, will belie their feigned innocence.

As of Friday, the senatorial candidates who have been ordered by the Comelec to remove their illegal campaign materials include Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Koko Pimentel, Sonny Angara, Francis Tolentino, Freddie Aguilar, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Larry Gadon, Ibrahim Albani, Gary Alejano, Richard Alfajora, Raffy Alunan, Bam Aquino, Ernesto Arellano, Marcelino Arias, Bernard Austria, Nancy Binay, Edmundo Casiño, Pia Cayetano, Glenn Chong, Neri Colmenares, Chel Diokno, Conrado Generoso, Florin Hilbay, Leborio Jangao, Rodolfo Javellana, Romy Macalintal, Emily Mallillin, Faisal Mangondato, Zajid Mangudadatu, Sonny Matula, Luther Meniano, Allan Montaño, Willie Ong, Serge Osmeña, Danilo Roleda, Lorenzo Tañada, and Antonio Valdes.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said candidates found violating campaign rules would be given a chance to comply, but that appropriate action would be taken against those who fail to remove their illegal campaign materials.

 Lapeña acts on Tesda training scam

SECRETARY Isidro S. Lapeña, chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, gave assurance yesterday that he would see to it all TESDA transactions are legitimate and that any irregularity would be dealt with quickly.

He was reacting to an item in this space about some TESDA directors and officials having accredited “non-operating” training schools in Regions 1 to IV-A apparently to siphon off scholarship funds. The schools had been either qualified to receive scholarship slots or closed.

Lapeña said that upon his assumption as TESDA director-general, he formed a committee to investigate possible violations of scholarship guidelines as reported by the agency’s National Inspectorate for Scholarship Programs.

Initial investigation showed 84 training schools did not comply with TESDA requirements. Lapena said they were found to have conducted ghost training and exacted fees in violations of the rules.

TESDA recently issued the Omnibus Guidelines for 2019 TESDA Scholarship Programs to discourage anomalies through stricter monitoring of training programs, trainees’ attendance and the employment rate of the scholar graduates.

The TESDA chief said the amended guidelines mete out stiffer penalties for erring training institutions and agency personnel, and provide for the filing of criminal charges as warranted.

Lapeña said: “TESDA’s Unified TVET Program Registration and Accreditation System has very stringent validation and monitoring processes. If a school or training center does not comply with requirements, it will not be awarded scholarship slots.”

 “I assure the public that during my watch, as your TESDA chief, our kababayans will not be shortchanged and will not be deprived of the free quality training they deserve.”

On the discovery by the TESDA board of an alleged “conspiracy in the failed bidding for the procurement of starter toolkits” for scholarship beneficiaries, Lapeña said:

“The failed bidding referred to is the result of the post-disqualification of all participating bidders, which happened in the last quarter of 2018, before I took over as TESDA director-general. There was failure on the part of the suppliers to comply with the agency’s requirements.

“After a series of consultations, deliberations and review of the documents, the only lawful recourse was to declare a failure of bidding. Keeping with the process of procurement, a rebidding for the toolkits is now being done.

“Further, the allegation of favoritism is purely baseless. Records will show no supplier was awarded the contract since all of them were post-disqualified for the same reason of non-compliance. Even before the news came out, I have already reviewed the reports and other documentary evidence and I can see that due diligence had been exercised in this matter.”

Regarding former Deputy Director-General Alvin Feliciano, who had resigned as chair of the bidding committee whose award to supposed winning bidders was questioned, Lapena said Feliciano was appointed chair of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor in November 2018.

He also noted that TESDA specialist Armina Flora Tayko-Villanueva who had reported the failed bidding for the procurement of starter toolkits is herself being investigated after being charged with misconduct in December 2018.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 17, 2019)

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