by ODON S. BANDIOLA
No matter what their critics say against them, Aklan’s unified political leadership engineered by no less than former Congressman Allen S. Quimpo who dominated the province’s political landscape for more than two decades must be commended for drastically reducing poverty incidence in Aklan to its lowest, 21 percent as of the first semester of 2012. This is a sharp decline from the 38.4 percent in 2009 and 32.3 percent in 2006.
The main actors, of course, are Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores, Congressman Teodorico Haresco, Jr., Vice Governor Gabrielle V. Calizo-Quimpo and her SP members with Gov. Carlito S. Marquez playing the lead role.
No one can belittle the accomplishment in poverty reduction because this is the benchmark and the be-all of all development efforts.
The satisfaction and the feeling of fulfillment of any political leader can never be complete by merely citing figures of a more than a million in tourists arrivals generating more than P20 billion in tourism receipts, massive infusion of millions of pesos to infrastructure development, self-sufficiency in rice production, and other rosy economic indicators in trade and industry when many families still remain living below the poverty threshold.
The low rate of poverty incidence is always the ultimate measure of whether government programs and projects impact on the lives of our people. The rosy macro economic growth figures must be translated into the upliftment of our people from the bondage of poverty. For now, we can safely assume all their development efforts and its impact trickles down to the lowly families in Aklan. At least, the feeling is exhilarating. Aklan has the lowest poverty incidence in Region VI of 22.6 percent, lower than the national average of 22.3 percent.
At least, Aklan is economically better off than all the provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, better than Iloilo’s 21.9 percent poverty incidence and Cebu’s 22.4 percent. Aklan is only surpassed by the rich regions in the NCR, Ilocos Region, Northeastern Luzon, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
All figures seem to be rosy for Aklan under the incumbents; a first class province with 1.2 billion pesos 2013 budget, record high figures on tourist arrivals and tourism receipts, record high figures in tax collections, public and private investments, trade and export and domestic sales. /MP