TEARS OF JOY OF ACHIEVEMENT And of gratitude to many (who helped his 9-years journey as Provincial Governor) capped Edgar M. Chatto’s last “State of the Province Address” timed for his 59th birthday last week.
Even his worst critics must honestly admit Chatto’s performance as governor had many shining achievements and that his numerous awards from national bodies are not flukes. Sure, he had lapses as human beings have, but they are not in preponderance compared to the goals achieved.
Let’s name a few. Some 1.5 million tourists arrived here after we being shellacked by a mere 200,000 tourists – post earthquake decimation. The flagship projects are ,namely, the Panglao international airport and the spanking new Capitol Building.
From one of the country’s 20 poorest provinces in the country in 2000, the late governor Rico Aumentado and seconded powerfully by Chatto brought down the poverty level from 50% to 21%-alongside the national average.
In a Third World Country where attaining a thriving middle class is always a socio-economic goal, graduating many from below poverty line upwards is one major step forward.
Health issues have been addressed with the upgrading of government hospitals and establishment of town hall clinics. Education got a shot in the arm with new school classrooms and various scholarships in place. Bohol remained a major supplier of rice in the Visayas. The Government made its first major and remarkable stand for the environment by saying “No to Coal”.
Peace and order is no longer a major issue here. Bohol hurdled the major earthquake and three storms with relative dispatch and rehabilitation largely took place. Many roads and bridges have been built in 9 years that one cannot ignore. Ports have been improved.
Infrastructure is ,afterall, what made South Korea the mega economy that it is proudly so today. The softer issues of culture preservation and empowerment of women,children and seniors, on the other hand, have not been ignored.
The drug war has been pursued with little casualties compared to many provinces and cities. Investments totalled P 21B and P 2 B for SMEs, There is a renewed pride in things Bohol.
But many will still begrudge that the governor is lucky to have served in a period of great economic prosperity for the nation with high GDP growth. That means government had the wherewithal to generate taxes (locally and nationally ) and the province could have greater access to a bigger IRA allocation that funded many projects.
That also meant businesses had more space to set aside investments from good business results. Or that the Bohol economy was really fed by enormous OFW money that propelled the Consumer portion of the local GDP of the economy. That there were many positive financial interventions from many external multilaterals.
But let us call a spade a spade. One still needs a governor who can synthesize disparate elements to make different hues of interests to jell. You need a Manager who can make various parties row together towards one goal. You need a Planner who will have benchmarks to review progress and set directions at the outset.
You need a Crisis Executive that will move above the din of confusion in cathasthropies and find solutions, imperfect some of them may be. In varying degrees of success Governor Edgar has been all that- although he probably cannot control all the actions of all the men around him.
Chatto is not a perfect governor- we will be the first to say that he has also his blind spots and weak moments. Objectively- and not grudgingly- however,we are inclined to give him a higher than median passing mark.
On the negative side, Edgar has been a person much too eager to please everyone that he is often called the “Pretty Boy of Bohol Politics”- that he says things just to please people and not really execute them all. He ends up displeasing many when he tries to please all.
Chatto has an excellent communication team that often exaggerates achievements beyond their meaningful scopes. He also has a tendency to dilly dally policy moves- giving in too much to consensus that shows his seeming lack of willpower in power, water and environment issues.
There also seems to be a lack of focus to design investment incentive packages to lure businessmen to fund the many potential tourism sites here that would have strengthened tourism exponentially.
Chatto is perceived as less than resolute in trying all means to bring down cost of basic commodities- betraying some shortfalls in infrastructure, financing and market distribution. Agriculture- which feeds the people’s stomachs- have been overpowered by the emphasis on tourism. The entry of the Abu Sayyaf and the initial classification of Bohol as a drug-infested province is a product of porous security that bad elements find easy to penetrate.
Everyone hopes that has been addressed now.
But much can also be said of Edgar on a personal note as we bid him “Goodbye, Gov.”
He matches the hardworking energy of the legendary workhorse Rico Aumentado – taking in a punishing schedule despite his known physical drawback. At one time, he over exerted himself too strongly for comfort. But Edgar has a genuine liking for people which artifice one cannot camouflage for long.
Chatto has the gift of gab- English and Bisaya- and he bores no one in his speeches. Further, he had shown us no rancor and spite even when we sometimes disagree with his policies and thinking on issues in our Editorials. Acknowledging perhaps that we are professionals -just doing our jobs.
More power to your future challenges, Governor.
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