MagDegamo Ta: Legitimate Program or Political Profiteering? Print
By Edmund Sestoso   
Monday, 29 August 2011


For real or for politicking? "MagDegamo Ta," a program of the Negros Oriental provincial government, has ultimate semblance to the name of current Gov. Roel Degamo (in the middle, in yellow shirt) but his aides are denying it is just a means to promote his political career. EDMUND SESTOSO

For real or for politicking? "MagDegamo Ta," a program of the Negros Oriental provincial government, has ultimate semblance to the name of current Gov. Roel Degamo (in the middle, in yellow shirt) but his aides are denying it is just a means to promote his political career. EDMUND SESTOSO

Is it right or ethical for public funds to be channeled into a program that seems to be named after the new governor of Negros Oriental – or is this a very blatant example of political patronage designed to help him stay in power?


Degamo’s rise to Capitol


Roel Ragay Degamo, a native of Siaton town, became governor of Negros Oriental not by election but through legal succession following the deaths of the two top officials elected in the May 2010 national and local elections.


In that same election, Degamo was re-elected as one of the three members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) representing the 3rd District of the province.


The votes he garnered ranked him as the number one member of the local legislative body. Thus, Degamo assumed as vice governor after Vice Governor-elect, the elderly and ailing Agustin Perdices assumed the gubernatorial post left by elected Governor Emilio Macias II who died of liver cancer before his formal oath-taking ceremonies.


The death of Perdices on January 5, 2011 saw Degamo again move up the political ladder to that of governor.


Degamo is a mechanical engineer by profession and a graduate of Silliman University. He had worked as a mechanic for the National Power Corporation. His political career started when he was elected as councilor in Siaton from 1998 to 2007.


He became president of the Provincial Councilors League-Negros Oriental Chapter from 2004 to 2007, which gave him a seat in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as representative of the Philippine Councilors League. He was also elected as Region VII chairperson of the PCL, which entitled him a seat on its national board.


In 2007, he ran and was elected as one of the three regular members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan representing the 3rd legislative District of Negros Oriental.


The birth of MagDEGAMO Ta


After the governor assumed his post, he immediately convened his trusted people to come up with programs that would guide his administration.


One such personality is the governor’s close friend, Dr. Ramir Uytico who is presently the City Division Schools Superintendent of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Dumaguete City and who is behind the formulation of the MagDEGAMO Ta.


The program was formally launched on March 31, 2011, attended by both local and national government agencies and adopted as the program of the Degamo administration.


Uytico said that the MagDEGAMO Ta program has nothing to do with the governor’s surname because it has a meaning on it as a common term in the province.


Magdegamo as he said means to prepare, to move, to help, movement, celebration and goodness.


He admitted in an interview that while nothing is new as to the usual programs made by local chief executives, the MagDEGAMO Ta program is a new initiative as it intends to bring different government services “closer to the people” using an integrated approach.


Uytico added that a composite team will run the program and the workforce will come from different departments of the provincial government, national government agencies, and the private sector.


“This team is expected to visit different barangays in the cities and towns all over Negros Oriental bringing different services to them” said Uytico.


The DepEd official added that the MagDEGAMO Ta program also aims to provide the people, especially in the hinterlands the opportunities to improve their quality of lives.


“It is based on the principle of ‘not giving a man fish but teaching him how to fish’,” he said.


By so doing, the recipients are expected to do things independently later on by making use of the different programs and services brought to them during the conduct of the program in their respective localities, Uytico said.


On the other hand, Capitol administrator Arnel Francisco said that “Sa Probinsiya, Magdegamo Ta!” (In the province, let us prepare!) is an official tag line of the Capitol which was officially launched in March, which he said is actually a vehicle of the different programs and projects as defined in the centerpiece of the governor’s program of government under the Health, Education, Livelihood Programs and Projects (HELP) for peace and development.


Uytico admitted that while it is true that there is a semblance of similarity to the surname of the governor, it was only incidental and of course the governor might have felt happy about it and thus will also encourage him to pour more energies and finances on the several projects line up.


“There is no problem on it as long as the governor will prove to the people that his program is really benefitting the people,” he said.


He also said that while there are no new programs and projects that are usually done by the provincial executive, the things that only differs is the degree of implementation.


Provincial administrator Francisco admitted that programs and projects are already laid out even by the past two governors, the late Macias II and Perdices, and it was just only a matter of prioritizing.


Francisco went on saying that while it is true that the MagDEGAMO Ta program carries the same surname of the governor, he insisted however it has a different meaning and is commonly emphasized among the barrio folks as to prepare in order for one to have food on the table and to attain such, one has to work.


“The primary purpose here is to implement programs and projects without seeing any political color,” he said.


“Sa Probinsiya, MagDEGAMO Ta!” is a vehicle that calls for unity, action and behavioral transformation as it pushes for the implementation of the different programs and projects, Francisco further said.


DILG’s viewpoints


Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo issued Memorandum Circular No. 2010-101 on September 23, 2010 which bans names or initials and/or images or pictures of government officials in billboards and signages of government programs, projects and properties.


Its local provincial office here has a contrasting viewpoint.


DILG Provincial Director Jofralito Lorico said that the governor and other local officials involved in the formulation of the MagDEGAMO Ta have not violated any provisions and issuances of their agency.


Lorico also said their department sees MagDEGAMO Ta as a mere slogan but not a program of government. “Every LGU has a sort of a slogan to motivate the people and its constituents.”


He agreed that MagDEGAMO Ta has another common meaning and that does not necessarily refer to the surname of the governor.


“So far we have not known any violation committed by the MagDEGAMO Ta as a slogan,” the DILG provincial director emphasized. Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project


(The author is a freelance journalist based in Dumaguete City.)