THEY probably want to end their summer with a big bang.
That could be the reason behind the “North Luzon Inspection Trip” of at least 90 lawmakers that would take them across the region’s “roads and highways, vital infrastructure and installations” to “ensure the maximum benefit, comfort and safety of the Filipino people.”
The inspection trip that is also billed as a “working travel expedition” looks like a junket and these congressmen seem to be sending the message that they would be making a big sacrifice by traipsing through rough terrain and dangerous curves in the remotest parts of the country.
The expedition, for one, would stop at “tourist destinations,” such as Vitalis (an exclusive resort that recalls ancient Greece in Ilocos Sur), the Banaue Rice Terraces, Baguio City, Subic (where the road inspectors are expected to go “yachting” or embark on a “cruise”) and Fontana Resort at Clark (in Pampanga where there is a casino for high rollers).
Did these lawmakers just usurp the job of the Department of Tourism or were they thinking that they can no longer take being strangers in their own beloved Philippines, hence, they hied off to some distant shores or Mad Max country?
Rey Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes, Rodito Albano of Isabela, Mylene Albano of Davao City, Rimpy Bondoc and Aurelio Gonzales of Pampanga, Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato and Eileen Ermita-Buhain of Batangas were among those “spotted” in the first batch of lawmakers who are participating in the travel expedition, which kicked off on June 1.
Even if these lawmakers themselves shouldered the costs of this expensive trip to see the state of the infrastructure across Northern Luzon, it would still be a waste of time and money because they could just as well have invited the governors or mayors to a probe at the House of Representatives “in aid of legislation,” of course, to give them the lowdown on this and that infrastructure project for the benefit of the local officials’ “constituents.”
If the government paid the tab, it would make the road inspection more unconscionable because the money spent for the inspection could have gone to more productive endeavors, such as to help the thousands of evacuees from Marawi City who are fleeing the terrorist Maute Group.
Better still, the lawmakers, who are led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte in the expedition that ends on June 6, could consider a “Southern Mindanao Inspection Trip” to show their concern for the women, the elderly and the children in the southern Mindanao city who will never be able to even imagine a trip to the Thunderbird Resort in San Fernando City, La Union, or the sand dunes of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the two other tourist destinations in the lawmakers’ itinerary.
In La Union, incidentally, Umali and company will have witnessed the “oath-taking of mayors [there]as new members of the ruling PDP-Laban” on June 1.
And we thought that the road inspection was all about, well, inspection.
Meanwhile, is Marawi burning?
No, it is not.
The “bad” news is that the “North Luzon Inspection Trip” is to be joined “officials” from the interior, public works, tourism and transportation departments; and the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Ports Authority.
The more, the merrier?