Board members have assailed and refuted a â€œslantedâ€ banner story of a Second District-based newspaper which reporter they say must have taken a privilege speech by one of them â€œmaliciously out of context.â€
They suspected the headline â€œProvincial funded projects donâ€™t jibe with HEAT ITâ€ in a local paper (notÂ The Chronicle) to be â€œdeliberately distorted.â€
Board Member Elpidio Jala himself assailed as distorted the report, which took as its basis his privilege speech on the wisdom of also using the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) resources in pursuit of the provinceâ€™s HEAT IT agenda.
Jalaâ€™s intent is for barangay or municipal LGUs to be guided to align with capitolâ€™s priority agenda their projects or programs which they ask to be assisted from the board membersâ€™ allocations.
A Third District board member, Jala delivered in the SP session last Sept. 11, his speech that mentioned his own funding of certain barangay assistance requests not directly serving the HEAT IT goals.
While it is a fact that the province has many HEAT IT projects implemented thru different departments, the board members have shared their allocations in response to needs identified by the requesting barangays or towns themselves.
On the next day, the BNT bannered an article written by its reporter that projects funded by the provincial government â€œdo not jibe with Gov. Edgar Chattoâ€™s development agenda expressed in HEAT IT.â€
â€œGituis man nang estoryahaÂ (Thatâ€™s a distorted story),â€Jala lamented over the slant, prompting him to again stand and clarify the issue in the SP session last Friday.
Board Member Venzencio Arcamo said Jala was only referring to the Provincial Development Initiative Projects (PDIP) Fund, which is the basis for the release of their discretionary allocations as requested thru barangay or municipal resolutions.
Jala did not mean that the allocations reflected in the provincial government budget have deviated from the HEAT IT agenda, stressed Arcamo, a First District board member.
A focal development agenda and governance battlecry of the province, the HEAT IT is short for â€œHealth & sanitation; Education & technology; Agriculture & food security; Tourism & livelihood; Information Technology.â€
Board Member Abeleon Damalerio also sharply reacted, saying the reportâ€™s altered presentation could â€œgenerate misimpressionâ€ that capitol under Chatto and Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim has funded projects and programs contradicting their own vision for Bohol.
In the first place, Jala said, he was specific in referring only to the resources of the legislative branch, particularly his and fellow SP membersâ€™ allocations, and not the budget of the province intended for HEAT IT and other priorities.
â€œWhy not tell what are only factual and truthful? Why the need to slant, distort and mislead?â€ Damalerio asked in an interview.
They know for a fact that the Chatto-Lim administration has numerous HEAT IT priorities thru different departments and already implemented, aside from the on-going while more are in the pipeline.
That is why he deems it more responsive of the government to peopleâ€™s needs if the allocations of their allocations board likewise go to LGU thrusts that align with the meaningful agenda of the province, Jala said.
Their allocations fall under the PDIP, but Jala admitted that LGUs, mostly barangays, even asked aids for non-infrastructure ends like foundation activities and sports prizes.
THE BEST TO DO
Board Member Godofreda Tirol said Jalaâ€™s speech is not even an issue of appropriation but rather of an internal agreement among them on what best to do with the funds in their respective offices.
She supported Jalaâ€™s proposal to LGUs, municipal and barangays, to prioritize their requests for funding from the province that will â€œshootâ€ the HEAT IT thrusts.
However, â€œwe cannot in any way deny their requests if they donâ€™t fall within this framework,â€ Tirol said in a candid assessment to this writer by text message when sought for further opinion.
â€œLGUs know more what they need, like repair of barangay halls, for example, so we just expect their wants which we feel are also important,â€ the lady capitol legislator from the Third District like Jala said.
Tirol asserted, though, that HEAT IT remains the provincial governmentâ€™s priority program and basis for spending.
Damalerio said the core intent of Jalaâ€™s manifestation is more of suggesting to LGUs, especially the barangays, to harmonize their assistance requests or project support proposals with the development agenda of the province.
â€œSP sessions are open to public, but one must get himself informed of the context of the discussion.Â Â A limited grasp or understanding of an issue cannot do,â€ he said.
The First District board member thanked Jala for refuting by explanation the report that took the latterâ€™s speech â€œout of context and misled as it was not reflective of the real substance of the speech.â€
Damalerio himself clarified that they release aids precisely because of LGU requests and these were suggested by Jala to harmonize with the HEAT IT, the provinceâ€™s focal development agenda and service battlecry.
For expenditures to align with HEAT IT and be â€œdirectly used to achieve our goals,â€ Jala suggested that their SP resources be spent, for example, for health–100% Philhealth membership, barangay health centers, Botika sa Barangay, immunization vaccines; educationâ€”more study subsidies, skills training; agricultureâ€”microfinance for site development, farm inputs, nurseries; Tourismâ€”site development, barangay beautification by planting more trees and ornamental plants; and information technologyâ€”funds for laptops and other computer gadgets, internet access, even TV sets for schools as learning tools.
Capitol noted that the report, as it was slanted and, therefore, misleading, was â€œterribly maliciousâ€ by its opening line alone which stated, â€œNow it can be told,â€ because it asserted that as if the province had long malpracticed its own platform of governance.
The articleâ€™s â€œdangerous openerâ€ was alluding to the provincial leadership, making the governor himself a safe target for damage, according to capitol.
In his speech, Jala also cited his aids to repair and/or improve barangay halls Day Care centers, cooperative and senior citizensâ€™ buildings, and schools, among others.
The questioned newspaper item said Jala cited these as a â€œpoof of his claim of what appeared to be wrong priorities.â€
A speech copy provided to the media from Jala himself and a transcript from the SP Journal of Proceedings both show that the board member did never say that the projects were wrong priorities or even appearing to be.
Known for his heart for the barrios, Chatto said it saddens to hear of assisted barangay requests being so sourly labeled or insinuated as wrong priorities.
The governor said a barangay, in consultation with its puroks, know and identify what it wants and ask help from higher-ups for it which may not be an immediate priority but must have necessary importance.
Arcamo reminded reporters and writers to be careful always in the accuracy of their facts because the media is an esteemed profession as it feeds the public information through their news articles.
After the provincial leadership itself was alluded to in the slanted news item, a succeeding report in the same paper this time carried a â€œcorrectiveâ€ subtitleÂ Â for â€œaccuracyâ€—â€œSPs discretionary fund not aligned with HEAT-IT.â€
But his colleagues reaffirmed that what Jala was sending across was a message of advice for LGUs, notably the barangays which have most of the requests, to align their programs or projects with the HEAT IT.
It is dangerous to insist on a wrong interpretation, which intentional manner is demeaning to its author according to capitol.
The follow-up article by the same reporter said Jala â€œappeared to be assailing Bohol News Todayâ€ which bannered the earlier item questioned and refuted by the board members.
By their statements in interviews, Jala and his SP colleagues did assail, not just appearing to be assailing.
And it is another slant—and one more time unfair— to be again misinterpreted for assailing the newspaper itself, which is not the case, because it is the distorted article alone which they questioned, the board members said. (ven rebo Arigo)