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BOHOL MOVES TO SPEED- IS IT ENOUGH?

BOHOL MOVES TO SPEED- IS IT ENOUGH?

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BOHOL MOVES TO SPEED- IS IT ENOUGH?

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cartoon editorialTHE CYNICS SNEER   at those who seek public office because no matter what he does- the demands for social services (being infinite) will always exceed finite resources any year.

Unless those public servants look at their job to serve as some kind of ‘calling’

and  are afflicted with a healthy dose of “messianic complex”  they  will not endure the almost thankless job of holding public office.

Very few beneficiaries  are truly thankful – reasoning it is a public servant’s duty to serve the constituents and often one’s best is not always good enough. Nonetheless,

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Governor Edgar Chatto ,speaking in behalf of the three congressmen Relampagos, Aumentado and Yap, the legislature, the LGUs , the NGOS and those supporters in the private sector, claim much has been done for Bohol the last six years (two terms). Caveat: much has to be done.

The details of the “State of the Province Address” has been heard over the radio and many of them are outlined elsewhere in this paper. We will not dwell on the success of the “future plans” as they will be subject of a SOPA sometime in the near future.

But there are clear gains that must be applauded.

The HEAT-IT caravan positively benefited 23 towns including 571 barangays  which is more than 50% of all the  barangays in Bohol, Dodging the ill effects of the earthquake and Yolanda, the recovery efforts  has resulted in 10,000 new business names registered,  creation of 24,000 new jobs and P 2 B investments.

Over the last three years ,private sector investments spiked up by P20-B – P 6-B for tourism, P 8-B for agriculture, and P2.5-B in assets of cooperatives. From the lows in 2013 after the tragedy, tourists in 2015 jumped by 24%, showing  red-hot recovery.

Numbers from the Philippine Statistics Authority display Bohol agricultural production as more than sufficient : 106% for rice, 103% for corn and 662% for root crops. Much milk is now produced by dairy farmers worth P26M 2013-2014,

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In the P2,2 B BEA (Bohol Earthquake Assistance), government reports  P1.3 B worth of projects  has been finished, P660-M ongoing and P230-M for bidding (translated from percentage ratio completion over budget downloaded from the national government.

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Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital doubles capacity to 500 beds and the devolved hospitals in the towns have been modernized and showed revenues of P131-M(we are not sure if this is higher than the cost of operations, though).

Many PWD (People with Disabiities) are getting to be self reliant and 2,777 students have been hired under the student-to employment assistance programs. Some 485 classrooms or 85% have been completed with DepEd, DPWH and AFP support. There were 3,500 college scholars, 180 CPG scholars and decreased drop-out rate from school.

Infrastructure like provincial roads boosted by P382-M while road maintenance through the Australia Aid program scaled by P464-M. Government assisted in setting up 13 new eco-tourism sites even as Bohol’s attractiveness moved the number of rooms in hotels from 4,954 (2013)to 6,370 (2015)- more than 30% hike.

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New DOT-DPWH initiatives now make virtually any road in Bohol  a qualified  recipient of possible national financing under the Bohol Tourism Programs even as the new Panglao Bohol International Airport is slated to be finished December 2017.

For IT, PLDT had supposedly completed the fiber optic capacity and moved the Bohol DFON to 30 gigabytes/second and the Albur Sanitary Landfill management has been training people to implement the first of its kind in Bohol.

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The provincial government is serious about the Drug cancer in our midst and has joined forces with the PNP/AFP and the NBI to combat the malady resulting in scores of dead men (drug-related) and millions in shabu confiscation (including a one time NBI raid of P5-M).Arrests od drug lords and education addressed to the possible users have been done.

Health  and sanitation programs have been doubled ,alongside the new positive mandates under the new Philhealth guidelines and the increase in civic activities like medical missions in tandem with government.

All of these can mean that the government and its political allies have not only helped resurrect Bohol from the rabbles of natural tragedies, but is on the road to building an even bigger, better Bohol.

At the center of the effort is Governor Chatto , who may have his faults and blind spots like everyone else, but he is not lacking in dedication, industry and approachability which is a political asset called charisma.  Despite his many governance awards, Gov Chatto will be the first to admit that “much still has to be done.”. That is the beginning of true wisdom.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

 

SOME MATTERS TO GIVE MORE FOCUS

WHILE FIGURES ABOVE DO NOT LIE, there is always room to fine tune policies on development economics to serve the bigger public in a bigger way.

Because- for instance, granting all the above, the HNU Poll 2015 survey province-wide still  indicated that those people who rated themselves as “poor” was a high 67% although lower than the Visayas average of 71%.

Likewise, the 2012 Official Poverty Statistics  of the National Statistical Coordination Board  of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the poverty incidence in Bohol was 30.6% , higher than the national average of 25%.A UNICEF -government exercise had earlier targeted to ideally bring down the poverty incidence in Bohol  to 23% by 2015.

Is it possible that government blessings /projects may have escaped those stricken with the most severe forms of poverty like those  hardly accessible mountain dweller-farmers, the hard-pressed fisher folks in many islands and some poor coastal towns and the other disadvantaged groups?

Is it possible that the shot-in-the arm  by government may have circled more around the busy towns and centers of commerce than the distant  very rural areas where most of the E markets live (30% of population)?

Would it be more inclusive that instead of the 23 towns and the over 50% of barangays that benefited from the HEAT – all 46 towns and all  the over 1,105 barangays –  should ALL”feel the HEAT” as well, so to speak?

Peace and order is a must . From an “insurgency free” Bohol in 2009-2010, the rising antipathy between certain farmer groups and the new presence of the military in some interior towns seem to suggest some rebel inroads may be back. There are talks that the lucrative “permit to campaign” fees have become an incentive for some rebels to come back especially in a presidential election in May 2016.

The drug cancer in Bohol, on the other hand,  remains a black eye on government . The several  raids totaling in the millions of prohibited drugs only tend to  suggest the gravity of the situation.  The slow progress of drug cases and the emergence of what is now becoming a “true blue” vigilante movement showcase here – in dramatic fashion-the inability of the justice system to prevail under the rule of law.

And if we take the government estimates as the rule that 70% of crime is drug-related-what do you think is the consequence on the incidence of criminality in a drug-ridden province?

Tourism can still go notches higher. Let’s start with the statement “what use are available rooms and new tourism sites” if we do not have the channels to bring the tourists in before December 2017- the target opening of the Panglao airport? We need to rehabilitate and expand the city airport and open the Ubay airport. What about the night flights? The improvement of the Cebu-Bohol ferry ticketing and travel facility?

As to the excess production of rice, corn and rootcrops in Bohol- those statistics are meaningless if the  Class D and E market cannot afford them- or not afford them three times a day Providing jobs- not just CCT will do to give the poor purchasing power.

Finally, what is really the score  on the IT potentials of the province? Do we really have faster internet ? If so, how come we do not hear of any deluge of companies setting up call centers here? Just asking.

All the above we do not label as easy  to do and we sincerely  commiserate with Government alternately breaking its back or bending backwards to accommodate the demands of welfare development.

But as the Governor had asked: let us all do each our little share in the definitely arduous task of nation-building.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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