This time it is the Department of Public Works and Highways launching a line for citizens to raise complaints, questions and suggestions about anything related to its projects.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said number 165-02 will be available for feedback on how the department can improve its policies, programs, activities and projects.
“We are asking the help of every Filipino in ensuring that the projects are implemented well and at the right quality,” Villar said.
The secretary added the hotline ensures transparency and is in keeping with the anti-corruption fight of the Duterte administration.
We, however, find the connection between launching the hotline and fighting corruption a bit of a stretch. Anybody can dial the number and cite irregularities in this or that project. Whether the department will even act on the call, or even put the issue through a queue within a reasonable time, is another matter altogether.
We wonder, too, if anything would come out of a hypothetical call complaining about the appointment of Villar to the post given the glaring conflict of interest in his position and his family’s real-estate enterprise. Many raised a howl about it when the appointment was first made, but nothing came out of it and as usual, and the country moved on to the next hot topic.
It does not mean it is any less acceptable now. Villar’s father built a property empire and then became Speaker of the House of Representatives, then Senate President, before launching a failed presidential campaign six years ago. His mother was a House representative and is an incumbent senator.
The secretary himself managed to convince voters of his district to land him a seat in Congress—before abandoning his mandate and saying yes to the plum post at Public Works —which decides, among others, which roads are to be built and where.
The idea of launching yet another hotline so that citizens may feel free to voice their concerns is in itself a good way to bring the government to the people but does not translate to inclusive governance automatically. How the agencies handle, much less respond, to the issues raised will determine their sincerity in opening up the lines in the first place.