Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Poverty and Unemployment, Challenge To SP Leadership

Weekly Kapehan form at Smokehauz Resto & Bar on May 22, 2010 is titled, "Legislative Agenda, SP Punctual guest was incoming SP member Hon. Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo. Other SP member Phoebe Clarisse "Ning" L. Cabagnot sent a letter of excuse because of earlier personal commitments.

Mayor Rebaldo is lone survivor of the opposition (Nacionalista) Eastern side and very optimistic about his role in the provincial legislature. He expressed thanks to those who have supported him both in good and bad times. I think those who hate me for what I am must be man enough to accost me and not prey or vandalize my campaign posters and tarpaulins. Voter’s confidence in my leadership by example was effective even in far flung towns as Libacao and Madalag though I haven’t gone thee personally, the Engineer stressed.

His priority agenda is resolution of the pathetic state of patients at charity ward of Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital. Frequent cases are insolvency of hospital patients to settle medical bills. A case in point is young unwed mother who chose to abandon her baby in the nursery ward. All because she could not produce the amount of P15,000. Another one is an injured man in a homicide case who without his knowledge and consent was confined to a private ward. After a few days hospital billing showed P45,000. Unable to pay he simply banished without a trace.

Economic Enterprise Department guidelines provide leeway for indigent families to leave hospital for home provided a promissory note is signed. Good but in the absence of a willing guarantor everything falls into pieces. Out of pity some employees manage to fill in the void ut does a person need to lose one’s self respect? Fortunately, there is a pending bill sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano to condone unpaid hospital accounts of patients confined in charity wards.

Mayor Rebaldo promised to look into unsavory mess and solve the recurring crisis of high cost of hospitalization and medical drugs. Once uncovered, he may be confronted of the proverbial Pandora box of all forms of evil.

Regarding the P90 million standby loan of Land Bank of the Philippines to Kalibo LGU, a total of 39 million has been obligated for following projects which are Talipapa, Oyo Torong - P11 million, Kalibo Public Market Rehabilitation (Native Products section) – P11 million and Heavy Construction Equipments – P17 million. The balance of P51 million is available should the incoming Administration of Mayor-elect William Lachica chooses to take advantage. Probable use could be funding relocation of municipal dumpsite to Balete and Kalibo’s Master Drainage Plan. Considering cash strap finances of barangays we approved resolution of allocating P100,000 each to our 16 barangays as counterpart fund for farm to market roads concreting. Now with new construction equipment like the motorized road grader, backhoe and dump trucks, road length could be well beyond 33 meters. Despite administrative problems and corruption charges spawned by the election campaign the Mayor said that we have sizeable funds left in the coffers for the next administration.

Decision of Central Bank branch in Kalibo to transfer to Roxas City based on relative business volume and cash transactions is indeed lamentable. However bank officials could not be faulted since the reality is that Capiz province is quite strong with leading commodities like sugar, rice, corn, meat and fish. Aklan surprisingly has degenerated into a basket case with regular transshipments of food supplies. In a recent Kapehan forum, Hon. Ning Cabagnot says, she no longer buys crustaceans from her hometown of Makato but instead but it right there in Metro Manila where it is cheaper.

How about copra? Well, Aklan no longer produce them but turns out hundreds of tons of coco lumber per year. It is also possible that people in the near future will turn to commercial bottled vinegar. Even tuba guzzlers are struggling to find the cheap drink from their favorite watering holes. This is bad omen for the entire country since coconut is considered the tree of life.

Engineered bamboo as shown by product acceptability test will soon replace wood as construction material, furniture and decorative pieces. DTI Kalibo is now in the midst of preparation for full scale technical info dissemination citing business and industrial potentials under the Micro, Small and Medium Industries.

Processing of engineered bamboo is quite simple and inexpensive. Selected pre-cut bamboo is passed through a pre-sizing and cleaning machine. Epoxy resin is generously applied as in plywood and the three slats compressed by a mechanical gadget to bind them permanently. Quality check by competent personnel complete standard of craftsmanship.

The DepEd has issued memo circular to all heads of schools requiring them to have 20 percent of their desks, chairs, and tables replaced with engineered bamboo products. Conducted at village level, minimal labor, funding and matured technology this could be the dawn of industrial age in Aklan.

Homeowners in advanced countries like the US, UK and Japan have the privilege to have pre-selected home design structure that include construction materials from nails to pre-cut lumber. Simple instructions are provided to construct one’s house since everything is prefabricated. Now with engineered bamboo, comparative price advantage and market promotion, stage is set for Philippine products to hit the international market.

Based on BAS data, bamboo plantation are extensively grown in Altavas, Libacao, Madalag, Malinao and Ibajay. Impact of this novel project could be easement of poverty and employment generation. Of course emerging but "dormant" business projects could be pottery and brick making in Lezo, and Colong-Colong, Ibajay that directly needs financial and technical assistance from Cong. Joeben T. Miraflores.

Incoming new SP members who belong to the opposition like Hon. Raymar A. Rebaldo, Ning L. Cabagnot and Victor M. Garcia face daunting challenge to be appointed to choice committee chairmanship. Mr. Odon S. Bandiola, SP Secretary revealed that all have been reserved for the United Leadership party.

Mr. Bandiola dropped a bombshell that the six year administration of Gov. Marquez has gone wild on deficit spending of closed to P1 billion. It should be noted that the annual budget of the province is also P1 billion. In essence culprit is big government and invariably there is also big spending. With the exception of Jetty Port, everything like Provincial Hospital and School of Nursing are operating in the red. This is compounded by the fact that the provincial leadership has not enacted proper legislation to increase taxes said the SP Secretary.

It appears that Independent Power Producers find Aklan’s investment climate hostile and unfavorable. First to give up was California Energy and now we have Asea One Power Corp.

Election fever has subsided and it’s time to roll up our sleeves. Indeed, we have serious problems at hand but let us not be deterred by unnecessary distractions to our cherished goal. Confucious once said that a thousand mile journey begins with a single step. /MP

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