MAASIN, Leyte — Up in arms against incumbent officials here, administration candidates said that a win by the Team PNoy here could change the status quo they described as “oppressive” and “authoritarian.”
According to Marissa Lerias, LP’s congressional bet here, the Aquino administration is helpless against local officials, particularly in the barangay level in the implementation of government programs such as the “4Ps” (Pantawid Pampamilyang Pilipino Program).
Lerias, who is running against incumbent Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado, who is now running for a congressional seat vice his brother Rep. Roger Mercado, said that the implementation of the “4Ps” is allegedly being politicized by the Mercados and their allies in the barangay level. She said that complaints sent to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Governments have not been acted upon by officials here.
Interviewed, before a big rally here, Lerias told Manila-based reporters, that the coming of President Aquino now, was like a promise fulfilled because they were not allowed to land here during the 2010 campaign.
“The return of the President here has an interesting twist, because in the year 2012, when he first campaigned here, he was an incumbent senator together with Sen. Franklin Drilon and Sen. Mar Roxas, the vice presidential bet, they were up against the administration party which was led by President GMA, they were denied the permit for them to come over, so they were not welcome in the City of Maasin,” Lerias said yesterday.
She added it was the Church who welcomed them. President Aquino then said that they will return to stop that oppressive practice.
“We are glad that they came to fulfill a promise, to put this ruling of impunity to an end,” she said, alluding to the way how the incumbent officials run the province.
Lerias said that the coming mid-term elections could be a rehash of the previous 2010 election when President Aquino and then vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas won.
She noted that of the 90,000 households here, there are some 16,000 family-beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program. The program, however, is being used as a political tool of the incumbent officials, Lerias said.
“The local administration officials have used it as a tool, in fact today many of the beneficiaries had wanted to come but were told not to come because if they come they would lose the privilege of becoming members of the 4Ps,” former Gov. Rosette Lerias, mother of Marissa, said. Lerias is running for mayor here now.
The elder Lerias allegedly said that the 4Ps is being manipulated by the city social development officials in connivance with city government and barangay officials to intimidate members of the 4Ps.
They accused that members of the 4Ps here are being prevented from participating in livelihood programs initiated by the Aquino government.
“If you go (to Aquino government’s livelihood activities), we will not give you a certificate of residency of this barangay,” Lerias said.
“Most of the households here are dependent on government for their income, that’s why they are at the mercy of the barangay officials. This is their lifeline.”
Lerias said the CCT should be supported by livelihood programs which could help sustain the income of the people. But even the livelihood programs are being blocked by the barangay officials.
“We could not even use the gym here to teach people the uses of the coconut. They are not even allowed to listen to our political rallies or participate in livelihood programs,” Lerias said.