When will the anomalies and scandals in Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista’s Quezon City end? This is the question many taxpayers in Bautista City are asking in the wake of two recent anomalies in the biggest city in the metropolis.
One recent anomaly involves the replacement of the decorative tiles lining the sidewalks of Tomas Morato Avenue with new ones announcing who is the boss in Quezon City. Those tiles are still in good order, so why replace them with vanity tiles at the expense of the city’s taxpayers? It’s easy for the mayor to spend money that doesn’t belong to him.
That anomaly gets underscored when one realizes that just recently, the Quezon City council increased real estate taxes in the city, thus making Bautista City one of the most expensive cities in Metropolitan Manila to live in. There goes Manuel L. Quezon’s vision of a city for the ordinary working man!
The other scandal involves the recent admission by Quezon City jail warden Randel Latoza that some of the detainees in his custody engage in male-to-male sex, and that a number of the detainees there have tested positive for the deadly human immuno-deficiency syndrome virus or HIV. Latoza’s admission came after he announced a plan to distribute condoms among the male inmates of the city jail.
Warden Latoza also disclosed to the news media that since there are no women in the city jail, he has advised the male inmates to use a condom if they can’t bear their sexual urges any longer. Good grief! What kind of jail management style does Latoza advocate?
Prison rules allow conjugal visits for married inmates. That arrangement is supposed to address the sexual needs of the detainees. The law, however, does not allow jail authorities to permit male inmates who have no access to the opposite gender to have sex among themselves, with or without a condom. Accordingly, Warden Latoza must explain why he tolerates sexual intercourse and contact between and among male inmates in the city jail. Since such revolting incidents cannot go unnoticed by the jail guards, the incidents must have taken place with the tacit consent of jail authorities.
How can the city jail serve as a correccional facility for wrongdoers if jail authorities allow sexual perversion to proliferate there? Now that several inmates of the Quezon City jail have tested positive for HIV, what is Mayor Bautista going to do about this?
Although the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology is in charge of the management of jails, this arrangement does not mean that the city mayor should just sit back and watch as sexual perversion and the spread of the deadly HIV disease take place in the city jail.
Records indicate that there are 2,800 detainees at the Quezon City jail, although it is designed to accommodate only 270. Such congestion will certainly take a toll on the health and sanitation conditions there. If an inmate afflicted with tuberculosis can easily contaminate hundreds of his fellow inmates, an HIV-infected detainee can spread the virus to the other prisoners at a faster pace, even without involving any sexual contact. Surely, it can be argued that detention under such circumstances is worse than the death penalty!
Instead of wasting city funds on those useless vanity tiles to decorate the sidewalks of Tomas Morato Avenue, Bautista should cause the construction of a bigger, more humane detention facility for Quezon City.
Last year, Hero Bautista, the city councilor and the mayor’s brother, publicly confessed to being a drug dependent. If, by chance, Councilor Bautista had been detained at the Quezon City jail for his drug use (an act constituting betrayal of the public trust because he kept it a secret from the electorate), will Mayor Bautista take steps to improve the jail in his city?
By the way, Hero Bautista is the chairman of the city council’s committee on infrastructure. Has he done anything to solve the congestion problem plaguing the Quezon City jail?
This recent anomaly concerning the Quezon City jail comes weeks after another prison irregularity, this time in Cebu. It will be recalled that less than a month ago, the inmates of the Cebu provincial jail were ordered to strip naked and remain naked in the prison quadrangle while their cells were searched for narcotics, weapons, and contraband. The news media reported that the mass stripping was authorized by provincial officials. Critics say that the treatment of the prisoners was unreasonable and inhumane.
Be that as it may, the recent anomalies taking place in Quezon City are very unsettling. Let the record speak for itself—the city mayor beats up, infront of live television cameras, a foreigner suspected of pushing drugs at the Philcoa area near city hall; the city mayor’s brother admits to being a junkie, but claims that, despite the immense power and influence he wields in the city, he is a mere victim of the drug menace; a number of city councilors are facing criminal raps before the Sandiganbayan after the Ombudsman accused them of hiring hundreds of ghost employees at the expense of the city’s coffers; motor vehicles purchased with city funds and used by the city’s politicians all bear painted signages praising the politician using the vehicle; and relatives of local and national politicians wield power in the city, despite the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties.
Many asinine draft city ordinances were not enacted because of popular opposition to them. These draft ordinances include one imposing a ceiling on the number of pets a household in the city is allowed to maintain.
One ordinance that almost got away tried to impose a hefty garbage collection fee on the city residents. That ordinance was nullified in court.
The 2019 local election is a little more than two years away. Fortunately, Bautista is ineligible for a fourth term as city mayor.