Happy Quezon City Day? Huh! As in years past, Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista is expected to celebrate the occasion with newspaper advertisements praising himself and his minions in the city council. This year’s propaganda will particularly compliment the vice mayor, in anticipation of the latter’s plans to run for city mayor next year.
Of course, whatever newspaper advertisements are published will be paid for by Mayor Bautista with taxpayers money. What else is new?
Being Quezon City Day, the city’s taxpayers should be enlightened about the lousy times in Bistek Bautista City.
The mayor’s brother, Hero Bautista, is supposed to be undergoing rehabilitation for drug use. He is chairman of the powerful infrastructure committee of the city council. No construction project, public or private, may be undertaken in the city without the prior approval of his committee. Has he been rehabilitated already?
Veteran comedian and city councilor Roderick Paulate is facing graft and falsification raps in the Sandiganbayan for allegedly hiring “ghost” contractual personnel.
Despite a law which mandates easier transactions with government, Bistek Bautista City remains notorious for red tape.
A year ago, lawyers had no problem about paying their professional tax at Quezon City Hall. Today, Bautista added a requirement — a lawyer must show documentary proof that he is a member of the Philippine Bar before he can be issued a professional tax receipt. The excuse — this discourages imposters from passing themselves off as lawyers.
The idiots at Bistek Bautista City are unaware that a professional tax receipt is not recognized by the courts as proof of membership in the Philippine Bar. Courts require lawyers to cite their lawyer’s roll number which the court eventually checks with the Supreme Court on line. By requiring more papers, Bautista’s imbeciles at city hall aggravated the red tape there.
Even the city’s health department has not been doing its job properly. Many small eateries in the city, particularly those along Maginhawa Street near the city hall, do not have restrooms.
Parking is a serious problem in the Quezon City Hall compound. Spaces which used to be allotted for parking have been designated for the exclusive use of city hall employees.
Many of the vehicles owned by the city government are not properly registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Whatever LTO registration they may have is not updated.
Several of them do not even have the requisite license plates. Just take a look at the city’s garbage trucks.
Most ordinances discussed in the city council are absurd and impractical. One example is a silly ordinance which limits the number of pet animals a household can keep. Another ordinance requires banks to provide special parking for bicycles.
There was a time when city hall tried to charge city residents large fees for garbage collection, even if garbage collection is the legal obligation of the city government. That illegal ordinance was successfully opposed by concerned citizens.
Real estate owned by the city are systematically sold off to big commercial enterprises which convert them to shopping malls. The number of shopping malls in the city steadily increases every year, but the number of public hospitals does not. Unlike the cities of Pasig and Makati, Quezon City cannot boast of any city hospital that has enough medical facilities.
Public signages are designed by city hall employees who are not familiar with the English language. For example, the sign “office of the senior citizen affairs” conspicuously displayed along Kalayaan Avenue near city hall should remove the word “the.”
Back in 2016, Bautista was such a die-hard supporter of Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) that he allowed Leni Robredo, the purported Vice President of the country, to use a mansion in New Manila owned by Quezon City as her official residence. Why city property was allowed to be used by a national official is explained below.
Bautista eventually abandoned the LP to join the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte. That move is obviously in preparation for Bautista’s campaign for a congressional seat next year.
Despite being a political turncoat, Bautista will not kick Robredo out of the New Manila mansion. Robredo is Duterte’s constitutional successor and Bautista wants to be in Robredo’s good graces in the event anything happens to Duterte. That’s political opportunism Bistek Bautista style.
In 2016, Bautista went to Norway at public expense, supposedly to represent the Philippines in peace talks with the leaders of the local communist movement. City officials are, by law, prohibited from performing functions outside of city duties.
Taxes in Quezon City are among the highest in Metropolitan Manila. Despite the prohibitive taxes, the city remains prosperous but decadent.
A lot of public money has been spent on decorative tiles bearing the initials of Mayor Bautista. These tiles are installed in many of the city’s streets ostensibly to decorate the area, but they are, in reality, meant to promote Bautista’s name and to tell everyone in the city who’s the boss. One such street is Tomas Morato Avenue.
To install those Bautista decorative tiles, the existing decorative tiles in selected streets had to be torn down, even though those tiles were still in excellent condition. That adds to the wastage of public funds.
Aggravating the anomaly is the fact that many streets in Quezon City do not have sufficient lighting. That makes the streets unsafe and dangerous for vehicles to navigate, especially during rainy nights. The dark streets probably signify Bautista’s penchant to keep his constituents in the dark about the way he spends city funds.
After Bautista steps down as mayor next year, a thorough audit of the city’s expenditures should be undertaken. Meanwhile, the residents of Quezon City will have to bear the lousy times in Bistek Bautista City.