By Erik Espina
In previous columns, I cited the divergent ethos of the businessman/investor vis-a-vis the politician public/administrator. The former focuses on the bottom-line of the company, meaning increasing profitability, reporting to a board elected by shareholders, to make sure dividends are rising for them as part of the ROI (Return on Investment). The government official’s mandate is public service and the common good for the greatest number of people. He is accountable to a sovereign constituency. And may be removed from office via the ballot or prosecuted for malfeasance or misfeasance. The problem always begins when the politician begins to piggy-ride on the business credo of progress, investment, employment, etc., forgetting his sworn oath as regulator, and not “facilitator” cum errand boy of lucrative business, for a “fee.”
How many times have we heard the punch-line, “There is no stopping progress.” Or this catchy phrase, “Traffic is the sign of progress.” May I add my own take – “Congestive progress” as the caveat to wanton commercialism?
The Boracay tragedy exposes the cost of run-away progress. Profiteering by investors – small or large-scale – with supine public officials choking the goose laying the golden egg. Increasing congestion for pure money-making is the evil that creates violations of law and ordinances, rendering the absence or total disregard for any sustainable urban, land use, zoning plans. Such signals, the beginning of a downward slide a slippery slope.
The function of government is precisely to tame the natural avarice for “profit at any cost,” by investors who regard themselves better than the public servant because the latter and the process for regulation may be bought. The values of “Sustainable Development,” “Absorb-tive capacity,” “Environmental Protection” go out the window, when the public administrator applauds progress, unfortunately viewed, in terms of an avalanche in business developers replicating the urban nightmare in key cities of the country – of malls, chain eateries, hotels, condos, etc., constructed in the highest density of public inconvenience, becoming thus another center for unmitigated population migration.