A neophyte politician, stepping in the political arena as a mayor, takes early steps to the gubernatorial challenge by keeping her bailiwick all for herself and deprive the equity of the incumbent to penetrate the masses through the Prosperity Team (Pro-Team).
Carmen Mayor Conchita Toribio-Delos Reyes insisted that the Pro-Team project has been designed for the political gains of Governor Edgar Chatto amid explanations from Col. John Bonafos, commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, that Pro-Teams are just there to establish the “presence” of the government.
Pro-Teams are dispatched to the sub-villages called puroks to gather the concerns of the constituents so that they can be promptly addressed instead of waiting for the people to find an opportunity to raise their concern personally to the Capitol in Tagbilaran City.
The mayor agreed that the Pro-Teams are created to capacitate the sub-villages (purok), but alleged that it is used by politicians to gain some vantage point to the vote-rich areas of the province.
“I’m happy for that pero gamiton na gani sa mga politiko ug pamolitika, well, dili napod na pwede. This is the sad thing here. That everything that they do, that everything that they plan it is always in the direction of pamolitika. Yeah, I’m happy for that executive order (creating the Pro-Teams). In fact, mao nay dapat. Adto lage na ipauna nila (sa Balilihan). I always believe in the executive order. And it’s really, to me, a positive one. But adto unaha na sa lungsod nga wa pa nahiluna, sa Balilihan. Ayaw aning Carmen kay gwapa na ring tanan dire. Ang ako lang dili lang gyud ko dire magpahilabot kay sa kalooy sa ginoo ang Carmen mauswagon,” according to Delos Reyes.
The mayor pointed out that if there are executive orders or national laws “telling us about that development” the areas that are lagging behind development must be prioritized.
She declared that Pro-Teams are not welcome in her town, citing alleged negative reactions from barangay officials who were reportedly irked by the manner that members of the Pro-Teams asked questions in gathering the concerns of the sub-village residents.
The Pro-Team members allegedly asked the residents what were their barangay officials doing regarding the prevailing concerns in their area.
On her 2013 plans, the mayor refused to divulge her runningmate.
“Mao ni giingong bag-ong pamulitika, bag-ong Bol-anon. we always look for change. Everybody both in the either side of the fence is eager to know who will be my vice governor. Well, I am always excited about me running for governor, but everywhere I talk about it I am happy discussing about it. But I am sorry, at this point that I could not divulge yet who will be my vice governor and my congressman for the first district kay dili pa man gyud panahon kay gasige pa man gyud tag has-has kay high standard ang governor nila, Governor Che. So kinahanglan gyud maplantsa,” Delos Reyes pointed out.
For his part, Bonafos said he will have to discuss the matter with Mayor Delos Reyes, pointing out that it would be unfair for the people to be deprived of their services.
“Kung sinasabi niyang hindi niya kailangan ang Pro-Team, hindi niya dapat sa amin yan sabihin, kundi sa mga concerned–yong mga tao mismo, ang apektado ang dapat na makaalam hindi naman seguro yan para sa amin. Kasi yong programa ay para sa local families,” Bonafos explained.
In the present time, the insurgency problem is now over and there are no more armed confrontations with the armed group of the CPP-NPA-NDF. That is why, the province is already insurgent-free.
“So dito na tayo sa phase na dapat ipasok na natin yong development. So in the development phase, hindi na rin ito talagang solong dapat na trabahuin ng military. Ang papasok na dito supposed to be, is the local government agency na magbibigay ng basic services and the required development. So, ang ginagawa dito is yong military component dito is parang susuporta nalang doon na mapabilis ang delivery ng basic services. That’s why in the IPSP program, multi-stakeholder approach na tayo, Bonafos explained.
He said everyone who is willing to help–from the municipal, provincial and the non-government agencies, peoples organizations, private sector are welcome in the Prosperity program because it is called bayanihan program.
“So we encourage everybody to help. Kung gusto nila na merong sector na hindi natin isama, pwede naman nating pag-usapan yan. Very specific ang program. This is not a political activity. In the AFP, meron tayong kautosan sa headquarters na ang military will shy away from political activities. Ang role lang namin sa poltical activity is just to vote,” Bonafos added.
Regarding the complaints on the manner the Pro-Team members asked the questions to the households, Bonafos said he will still verify the information. That’s why he recommended the temporary pull-out of the teams in Carmen and “reassess the procedure and the system or the manner in which the Pro-Teams conduct their house-to-house activity”.
“Kaya kung meron tayong nakikitang lapses doon, particularly in the manner of asking the questions in gathering of data na meron pang sinasabing nakakainsulto on the part of the LGU, we will have to correct that. That’s why my recommendation is to pull out nalang muna. I-reasses natin,” according to Bonafos.
He also corrected the impression that Carmen has been singled out and said that there are actually 40 barangays in 21 municipalities that are prioritized in the program.
In the first phase of the program, Pro-Teams were deployed to 15 barangays then the 40 barangays followed, including Balilihan areas.
The main criteria in choosing areas to prioritize is the factor on peace and development wherein towns with a history of Communist terrorist (CT) armed group in the past come first.
Second in the consideration are the municipalities or areas visited by supporters of the CT armed groups who are consulting the people if it would be possible to bring back the armed group.
Then the presence of other sectoral activities poised to open the opportunities for the easy return of supporters of the CT armed group.
As what he had been presented before the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), Bonafos reiterated that the program is aimed at promptly preventing the easy return or the opportunity for the CT armed group to gain the people’s sympathy while still in the planning stage.
“Hindi pwedeng nakaupo nalang tayo, hihintayin natin na magigising nalang tayo isang araw andito na naman ang armadong grupo. The program is a preventive and pre-emptive action para hindi sila madaling makapanghikayat na muling makapasok dito yong armadong grupo.
PILAR THANKFUL TO PRO-TEAM
Pilar Mayor Wilson Pajo, for his part, said that he was thankful that his town had been chosen as one of the pilot areas of the Prosperity Teams in the province.
Pajo added that there had been close coordination between the members of the Prosperity Teams (ProTeams) and the municipal government of PIlar, in contrast to a report from the mayor of Carmen that there had been no coordination with her prior to the entry of the ProTeams in her town.
Although Mayor Pajo said that he did not know Carmen Mayor Che Toribio-de los Reyes’s reason for wanting to pull out the ProTeams from the five barangays of her town that they were designated in, he clarified that as for the people of his town they were properly informed and briefed on what the Prosperity Teams were there to do.
He continued that apart from the coordination with the ProTeam members, he and his fellow mayors had also been advised prior to the program implementation during their regular meetings of the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities and also via a memorandum circular from Governor Edgar Chatto.
Of the 21 barangays of Pilar, two have been selected as ProTeam pilot areas; these are the barangays of Cansungay and Bagacay.
Mayor Pajo added that he wished all the other barangays of his town would eventually be also included in the program, although he acknowledged that there criteria for ranking the pilot areas for implementation in the province.
The mayor said that from what he has understood about the program, the ProTeams were formed to identify what developments are most needed in a purok, especially in areas that may not be easily attended to by the local government for reasons of remoteness, among others.
Pajo also brought up that the program follows the barangay empowerment approach, which his town had already come across with as one of the beneficiary towns from the first to the third phase of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s KALAHI-CIDSS program.
It should be remembered that in 2006, Pilar was recognized as “Best in LGU Engagement” under the KALAHI-CIDSS program for the synergy of efforts between the community and the municipal officials.
Pajo adds that the ProTeams are in form a continuation of the provincial government’s poverty alleviation program in previous administrations and as continued by the KALAHI-CIDSS program of the DSWD.
Accordingly, he noted that the Prosperity Team has an even broader scope since it is composed of several departments and agencies of government and even involves volunteers from the private sector.
Pajo closed that even in spite of the development and progress achieved by any locality, citing Pilar’s experience under the KALAHI-CIDSS program, there will always be a prevailing or emerging difficulty that needs to be addressed, and for the resolution of which help will always be needed and welcome.
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