Thursday, November 18, 2010

Commentary: This Little Piggy Goes all the way to both Houses of Congress

By Chanda Shahani

Does anyone remember the centuries-old nursery rhyme, called “This Little Piggy”? The nursery rhyme goes this way:

“This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed at home.
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.”

Well, this little piggy (i.e., the Diliman Diary) has decided to make good on its responsibilities as a community weblog and has already sent in complaints to the concerned government authorities about the irregular activities or decisions of state organs and institutions. In particular, this little piggy has already gone all the way to Congress to complain about financial irregularities in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). This little piggy is timing this to coincide with protests that seek to restore budget cuts to SUCs. While the Diliman Diary supports increasing subsidies to education as an investment in the nation's future, we nevertheless oppose the haemorrhaging of public funds into the pockets of career bureaucrats in the academe who have already forgotten their primary mandate – which is to serve the people and the taxpayers.

We justify blogging interspersed with occasional intervention because this is the common challenge routinely faced by innumerable community newspapers, websites, and weblogs all over the world; and every Editor has to make an individual decision as to how to treat local anomalies in their backyards vis-a-vis their policies of service to their communities. By way of analogy, if you, dear reader were the Editor of the hypothetical Chernobyl Diary (see: in Russia, would you not consider opposing the possible actions of local authorities to reopen that nuclear power plant in your community after the nuclear holocaust that took place decades before? Would you limit yourself to documenting a developing tragedy or would you not do your best to write national authorities to brief them about specialized knowledge or insights that you may have so that they can act in their best lights?  

The Diliman Diary has taken the consistent editorial stand of opposing financial irregularities in Metro Manila-based SUCs. We have issued an interpretative report of the Commission on Audit's (COA) 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Reports (CAARs) of these SUCs and are now systematically emailing this to legislators in both houses of Congress for their information and possible action (see Diliman Diary, November 1, 2010:

We think that there is every possibility that hard-nosed and principled legislators (and there happen to be a few of them) will be willing to take up the cudgels for the people when they come across reports like these. The Diliman Diary is not a newspaper, wire service, television station, radio station or tax-payer funded website. We are just a simple weblog of the kind that anybody in an internet cafe can set up, and we encourage others to try it. Truth to tell, and to paraphrase Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad (on the early days of the Liberal Party), you could put the entire leadership of the Diliman Diary in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle with room to spare. Our strength (and also any other blogger's) is not in numbers but the ideas of the many we have the privilege of posting here, with the internet as a kind of level playing field.  Although we are welcoming volunteers and writers to help us out, and our readers to continue sending us feedback, tips, anecdotes and stories, we also encourage the citizenry to file complaints to the national authorities, but backed up by some original insights or analysis to add value to the complaint for in the right legislators' hands, this can be fertile material for investigation or more.

At the end of the day, it is only with an active and engaged citizenry that we can minimize the incidence of official bureaucratic corruption in our country; as our fragile democracy is too precious to solely allow the state apparatus to handle this vital matter. We must all be involved in the process, or risk becoming nothing more than armchair critics of the status quo.


The Diliman Diary is finalizing and will soon be uploading a link to the entire directory of the Philippine Senate before the end of November, in order to facilitate citizen feedback to the national authorities, and so that anomalies can be reported to our elected officials. We will also be uploading the link to the directory of Congress shortly thereafter and for the same purpose.

(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary)

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