Empowering the countryside

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NOT all local government units have the financial capability to provide the basic services to their constituents and this specifically applies to 3rd, 4th, and 5th class municipalities.

The mere fact that there is not enough business activities in their respective localities speaks well of the predicament they’re all into.

Take the case of the 3rd class municipality of San Narciso in Quezon Province. Even with the potential of being a world-class tourist destination, the local government finds it hard to open their town. No less than Mayor Florabelle Yap admitted, the lack of infrastructure has literally isolated their municipality, although the local chief executive has surprisingly been able to do some tricks that allowed infrastructure development in their place to commence.

For one, her persistence could have sparked the road infrastructure in San Narciso. But how many mayors are as persistent as Mayor Yap, maybe just a handful. What she did was to identify programs of various national government agencies, seek an audience and ask that their town be considered in their radar. It didn’t end there though as she made persistent follow-ups, which yielded positive results.

As it is, I find it logical for the national government to look beyond the national capital region, which by the way is already saturated, insofar as infrastructure is concerned. Perhaps it is high time for the national government to pour in funds for infrastructure to the countryside if only to boost their chances of economic growth.

Empowering the local government units by way of bigger Internal Revenue Allotment and a chunk of the congressmen’s pork barrel will be a good start. It would also be wise for the Department of Tourism to invest in towns deemed as “breath-taking.”

Hindi lahat ng rural towns may mayor na tulad ng nakaupo sa San Narciso, Quezon.

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Still in Calabarzon, the municipality of Angono in Rizal is one place that everybody should be watching out.

Known as the Art Capital of the Philippines, the municipal government has been gradually doing away with destructive business activities — including mining.

According to Mayor Jeri Mae Calderon, Angono would be able to maintain its economic position even without the mining industry in their locality as the town embarks on an economic policy anchored on calibrated tourism and sustainable development.

Angono is considered a model LGU insofar as effective environmental management is concerned. What the LGU did was to mix up its tourism and environment programs. 

Angono does not have white sand beach but it boasts of its Angono Lakeside Eco-Park. Angono also does not have a rapid bend similar to that of Pagsanjan but they do have the cleanest river where boating remains a fun adventure. Whatever you see in Angono is a tourist attraction in itself — including that of Higantes which we’d see almost anywhere in Angono.

Angono does not have grand structures where artworks of the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Angelo are billeted but Angono has an abundant pool of talents who paint as they please anywhere in the locality — making the town the biggest art gallery and art school in one.

What’s fascinating about this town is that there are no “squatters” in their locality. Make no mistake about it — the LGU didn’t wipe them out of Angono. What they did was to make a physical inventory of their informal settlers and designate a place where they could build a place they could call their own.

Some call it in-city relocation but Mayor Calderon would rather refer to it as human compassion.

“You don’t just kick out people because they’re poor and don’t own lots where they can put up a small place to stay. People are the very reason we have a government,” the neophyte mayor said.

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Whatever happened to public clamor embarking on the closure of mining activities in the towns of San Mateo and Montalban towns in Rizal.

The provincial government has long wanted mining activities in Rizal to stop but there seems to be a stronger force that has been decimating the public clamor.

The provincial government is on a collision course against moneyed businessmen behind the mining companies operating in the towns of San Mateo and Montalban. These mining companies are backed-up by several congressmen who are either stockholders, members of the board, or worse, the corporate bosses themselves.

These mining companies are also enjoying the protection of several dubious environment officials and local government personalities.

How could we forget the fury of Typhoon Ulysses?

The Local Government Code needs some revisions seen to empower the LGUs on deciding what’s good for their place. In the case of the illegal mining operations in Rizal, the provincial government – even if it wanted to, could not clamp down on the environmental destruction in their place because they’re not empowered to.

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