AN ERA of controlled corruption, lower food prices and an improved economy through tourism (post pandemic) were lookout points of a hopeful Boholano populace- after a Yap regime perceived to be graft-ridden and incompetent (as shown by a lopsided poll results).
Corruption steals away money meant for socio-economic projects (cheating the people of their hard-earned taxes) in favor of a few dirty hands whose unbridled and unpunished crime might prove to a dismayed public that crime pays and corruption is an “acceptable way of life”.
The defensive former governor complained that the Aris Government is spending quantum time in running after him and his cronies. Yap forgot to state that standards of clean governance has also been raised for the current government or else current scoundrels now will also face the same guillotine. It is a paradigm shift in good governance and not just a witch-hunt for previous public account robbers.
While the OGAR has been initially declared unconstitutional by a Lower Court-the crusade to identify and nail the grafters will continue in one form or another. The initial legal setback is no ground for the guilty to start clinking their champagne glasses in celebration.
The first salvo involving the alleged substitution for a food supplement for a medicine for health deficiencies at the height, of all times, of the pandemic crisis, could be a litmus test whether the allegations of graft were real or hearsay – just a tool to discredit the previous administration. That move filed as plunder before the Ombudsman was assiduously worked on primarily by former Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco and former City Mayor Dan Lim.
But even if that one case fails to soar, there are a lot more allegations being studied but has taken some time in order to build a solid case- but they are moving. Quality not quantity is a good enough anthem. The road to cleansing must go on unperturbed, despite.
On the second note, anywhere in the Philippines, Filipinos do care about putting behind bars corrupt officials, but they care just as much about rising prices and putting food on the table.
We can take a cue from what Finance secretary Ben Diokno said in seeing inflation drop to its lowest at 3.9% nationwide this year in December – that government achieved so not by relying on monetary policies (like high interest rate to discourage inflation) but to fill in the “supply gaps”. Incredible as it might seem, December which used to be the month of highest inflation in the past – turned out to be the lowest.
That meant flushing out hoarded supplies by saboteurs and cartels, timely importation at critical junctions and erasing all roadblocks along the farm-to-market journey.
Filling the supply gap in a timely manner, works.
In Bohol, it means preparing even now for the months of March-May 2024 when El Nino will be in its most terrible form by making sure our dams and therefore water for rice and vegetables are adequate and thus maintain the right food supply at any point in time.
In the government’s “Isda Program”, Provincial Administrator Asteria Caberte is right in citing that the issue is one of low supply. Odette had mercilessly destroyed fishing boats and gears, fish cages, ponds and even corals driving fish farther way from the shores. Of course, the known middle-man curse who controls supply and hijacks most of Bohol catch to more lucrative markets like Cebu City still lurks like a phantom shadow.
The government solutions to buttress fish supply are: 4 new commercial fishing boats provided by BFAR and the provincial government, 100 fiberglass pump boats for cooperatives and access to Landbank for financing of fishing equipment and cold storage facilities for fisherfolk groups. The “buy back” fish program of the government also makes sense. Those must work ASAP.
In the very short palliative answers- Bohol should not close the doors to the enterprising bigtime fishers in Surigao and Zamboanga from Mindanao (where quality fish is teeming) to immediately ship tons here when the fish gap is acute.
Perhaps we can also take a look at what the Luzon folks are doing: people developing a liking for inland fish: like tilapia and bangus. Live tilapia is sold in many markets and restaurants even in Manila and Pangasinan has developed many varied tastes for processed bangus like: adobo, relleno,chili etc. and the market is enormous.
POWER AVAILABILITY AND COST
Infamously, RP has one of the most expensive power rates in most of Asia and Bohol is no exception. There is some hope on the supply side. There better be- because the demand for electricity in Bohol is forecast to move from 113 MW to 148 MW by this year.
The interconnection (by lines and submarine cables) from Argao Cebu to Maribojoc will be in place at the end of the year. The EDC land-based power plant project is expected to be completed in May. Alsons’ 98 MW diesel plant to be connected to the Ubay NGCP substation costing P1.8B is reportedly set for launching also in May 2024. And finally, the Dagohoy-based 27MW solar plant of the Yuchengco Group serving 15,000 households is said to be operational by the last quarter of the year.
Whichever comes first, the consumer and businesses will scrutinize how it will contribute to ensure availability and -more importantly- reduce cost per kilowatt hour. That’s the gut issue that matters to Juan de la Cruz.
As for Tourism, our flagship industry, it would be economic suicide if we insist to be portrayed in the eyes of a discerning and choosy tour market that we are indeed more expensive than our rivals in Palawan and Boracay, in terms, of airline and land transport rates, room rates, food and services in general.
People will always have a hundred and one other choices to travel to. Let us not be the least- worthy peso or dollar-wise. Let’s get smart, not greedy, folks.
The city has won many remarkable awards as for us not to overstate them here that the governance ground has been fairly covered by those in power. Traffic congestion, flooding at certain areas, poorly lighted streets in small streets and the absence of a catch-all wastewater treatment, however, continue to be problems that need solutions pronto.
For traffic, we need stricter traffic enforcement rules, elevated parking spaces and diversion roads to decongest the main throughfares.
Let this just be a fair warning that the 2025 polls is nearer than one thinks. By October, filing of certificates of candidacy will ensue, in case one forgets.
People will remember that promises are not just promises that are made to be broken. They will demand accountability.
We better have something solid to show when the campaign period begins.
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