Local government stewardship succeeds when every man, woman and child tells the leadership : “I am better off economically and with more dignity as a human being today than when you started as our leader.”
We cannot add any more value to the fact that the provincial government under Governor Edgar Chatto has been voted “The Best Governed Province” by the DILG. The reasons for that vote of utmost confidence are enumerated in the SOPA of the governor found in this issue.
All we can summarize is that the statistics of the achievements become more meaningful when described by the manner by which they were achieved. The means and the ends of good governance are of equal importance.
The strategic directions for health,education,agriculture (food) and tourism (livelihood) (HEAT) are clear as a summer day. A public finance summary of the over P 1-Billion in the provincial budget displays that the government had placed its money where its mouth is, so to speak.They were spent for what was deemed of strategic importance to government.
“Hit and miss” , after all, is never an attribute of sound,prudential budgeting.
If the province had its own GDP (gross domestic product) growth targets, the government expenditure (to include also those of government agencies and congressional pork) and the remarkable P 1.3 Billion in new private sector investment (64% annual growth) should combine (along with OFW remittances to the province) to increase consumption of goods and service.
Thus, if GDP is computed as Consumption + Government + Investment, we could zero in on what the growth rate assessment of the province is.Alas, we do not do provincial GDP growth rate calculations, of course.
It would be most interesting to note if the provincial government can release what types of industries the 2,197 new businesses went into-to know where we are strong.
Hands down, the new kid-in-the block worth watching is the BOP (Business Outsourcing or Call Centers) which today rakes in close to US$ 10-Billion for the Philippines. Note that except for India, we are by far, the best preferred base for BOP operations of foreign firms.
Unlike tourism, our competitive edge (as a country) in BOP is a recorded fact: good English speaking graduates, nice office spaces and an environment good for ex-patriates who may want to supervise the RP operations for their mother companies.
A “university city” in Tagbilaran in a R and R (rest and recreation) environment like Bohol would be hard to beat. The public and private sectors must walk hand in hand in approaching this potential “gold mine”. They must tarry not one year longer. Of course, a business friendly processing system is assumed without saying.
Further in the field of education , it is noteworthy that the Magsaysay-awarded “Bernido Formula” type of dynamic learning is being enjoyed by the founder’s province mates now. One cannot also over-emphasize the fact that “education is the best yielding type of investment” that man can ever make to himself.
Thus scholarships are important especially for TESDA-based learning which poses the best alternative to formal education and enhances the entrepreneurial bent of the recipients. This should dovetail with a “matching employment” program by government for TESDA graduates.
Health insurance is taken seriously not just in poor countries but developed countries like the United States as well, for a reason. It is becoming more and more expensive to die today. Thus the Philhealth coverage expansion is crucial- perhaps as important as the upgrading of health facilities . For what good are hospital services and medicines for -when hardly can any one pay for them?
The TARSIER emergency mechanism, on the other hand, is similar to the recently launched multi-billion “hospital emergency dial-a service” facility of California initiated by former actor now Governor Arnold Scharzennager. The movement is so sophisticated that emergency cases are discussed with a central office through video teleconferencing and through images the type of medical intervention is being suggested from the central base. That is a First World scene, of course.
But one gets the drift of the primacy of responding quickly to save lives.
On food sufficiency- there is so much land space in backyards and open lots that raising native chicken, pigs and goats and the cultivation of inland fishing are no longer a source of fascination. Government should encourage more Boholanos to go into that.We are also in total agreement with the government findings for a re-shifting of food choices to more vegetables and fruits because that has scientific basis.
On the other hand, Bohol is perhaps leading the way into self-sufficiency in rice as the province has been a net exporter of rice for many years. DTI secretary Mar Roxas told a group oF businessmen recently that there “is a distinct possibility that the country will soon be exporting rice”- quite opposite of being tagged the biggest rice importer of rice during the GMA regime.But we should do away with expensive,overpriced dams and go for smaller more manageable forms of watering the rice paddies.
In tourism, quite apart from the much anticipated Bohol Panglao airport, Bohol may want to evaluate the success of the Danao adventure tours and that of Camarines Sur where tourism based on active participation (rather than passive viewing ) of visitors seems to be the call of the new brand of tourists.What about a religious tour of all major cathedrals in the towns each with their own story to tell or an ecological trip that starts with the tour of the massive mangrove plantation in Getafe? And so on.
In all of these, peace and order stability is a must for tourism and business to flourish. The rebel integration process initiated by the government is well lauded when contrasted against the last few years where at least six Boholano peasant-labor-fishery leaders in the province were murdered with no resolution in sight yet. Justice remains elusive for some.
But the ecological disaster that the 6.9 earthquake that hit Negros Oriental and the violent floods caused by typhoon Sendong in Mindanao should give us the biggest cause to pause. We cannot govern a community that is ruined by disasters.
We must not be complacent just because Mother Nature spared us the recent environmental disasters. They are still counting the full impact of Sendong but that final result is going to be dramatic.
But 71 people are confirmed dead in neighboring Negros Oriental and some P 700-M in infrastructure has to be restored. Good gracious, not even the combined P70-M pork barrel of three congressmen in 3 years term will make a dent on that gargantuan financial problem. That would only be P 63-Million in three years-and one cannot even touch the “soft” part of the representative’s pork barrel.
Let us remember that the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is so popular because it is as true as 2 following the number 1.
A few years ago, we published in the Chronicle a map of hazardous earthquake fault lines-some dangerously near Bohol. Note that even the last earthquake epicenter was noted between Moalboal of Cebu and Guihulngan of Negros- a fault line “undiscovered” yet by scientists.
When will we get an upgrade of the Philippine Earthquake fault line? Another scientific report said that in some areas of the province are large hollow holes undetectable from the surface-where are they?
When have we done a structural “integrity check” on our roads, bridges and buildings? What about the potential of river overflows and the ability of our massive water dams to withstand what kind of earthquake intensity?
Have we established a designated refuge center among town clusters to host survivors of a tragedy so that we do not penalize the students with class less days and to ruin their education when we make their schools the usual physical sanctuaries after disasters?
Have we had drills on tsunami alert among our coastal towns and impose a reforestation program for all towns especially those directly under elevated and denuded hills and mountains?
Our point is we must be ready -budget and operation-wise for disaster before they do occur because like a thief in the night , it comes at the lEast expected moment.
Finally, while energization of all sitios in Bohol is a doable target by 2013 that is not so in terms of the so-called water-less areas in the province as defined by the NAPSI (national anti-poverty group). What is the future of these water-less sitios?
But overall, the “Chatto Experiment” seems to be working well- and more of the same in the coming year will not be a bad idea.
Working for the best for Bohol is a noble goal. But it would not be debasing to raise the bar as well.
Congratulations and best of luck to the provincial government.
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