Are Aklanons Progressing
With “Todo Asenso”?
by Ernesto T. Solidum
Cong. Teodorico Haresco of Aklan has aptly adopted the slogan, “Todo Asenso” in his campaign sorties. Until this time, Todo Asenso is becoming a familiar sight in all government projects. Judging by the fusion of words and actions the light of dawn has figuratively come to lives of Aklanons.
Visible evidence are big ticket projects associated with tourism infra development such as road widening and concreting from Kalibo to Caticlan, Kalibo circumferential road and expansion of Kalibo International Airport. Actually, these are all funded by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) plan several years ago. Even the current Caticlan and Cagban Jetty Port Expansion is sponsored by DOTC.
Provincial Capital investments secured through government borrowings are renovation of Capitol building complex, Nursing building, Aklan Sports Center, Renovation of Caticlan Jetty Port and Rafael S. Tumbokun Memorial Hospital. A billionaire province can afford to spend these ostensibly for the people’s welfare but based on Provincial Economic Enterprise and Development Office, only Caticlan Jetty Port has annual income of almost P300 million. The rest are operating in the red.
For more than a decade, our government leaders have championed the cause of agri-tourism development in Aklan as a way to improve our socio-economic life. Please take note that agriculture must be first developed before tourism. Unfortunately, in the desire for instant fame and fortune, agriculture is relegated to the background and allocated a measly P8.8 million in 2013. By all standards, this is unacceptable and reprehensible in a provincial budget of P1.2 billion.
It is not surprising therefore to know that agricultural products being produced in Aklan pail behind those imported from Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao. A DAR Researcher bared that the vegetables sold in Boracay only 4 percent comes from Aklan, 7 percent of fruits and 39 percent of meat and fish. A big slap is that other commodities like rice comes from Mindoro and fish from Capiz.
Now going to the slogan of Cong. Teodorico Haresco, how can we make “Todo Asenso” work for us Aklanons? Obviously, this is only air if nothing is done to beat the odds.
To my mind, asenso is to progress in mind, body, spirit and possessions. What is wealth anyway when one is strapped to a wheelchair or character maligned by corruption? King Solomon wisely called the excesses and pleasures in life as vanity.
Bill Gates, the world’s richest man said that “no one is blamed for being born poor but when you die poor you are only to blame yourself”. Indeed, we must use our mental and physical capacities to overcome the many trials and not to rely on outside support.
One psychological reason that the Philippines does not progress at its usual pace because the 12 million OWF’s who remit money to their families, the latter no longer work and squander the hard earned bucks on non-essentials and luxuries. Regrettably, the Philippines is one big consumer market of finished goods rather than a manufacturing hub.
Todo Asenso is a vain attempt to replicate the slogan of P-noy’s “Daang Matuwid”. With the way it is raised near public work projects is decidedly misplaced and unwarranted. Snail pace of government projects, not to mention execution of structural integrity and design is dependent upon the capacity of private contractors to produce necessary heavy equipment and personnel. There is no doubt the 100 construction days (Date started: June 23, 2014) in the widening of Marianos Bridge contract undertaken by Clifford Construction Corp. can extend to another 100 days and even until 2016. It seems that no effort is done by DPWH to penalize its contractor for a sloppy job. The same holds true for the contractor of Bulwang and Kalibo bridges. Meanwhile, accidents and inconveniences occur in traffic bottle neck especially during rush hours.
Presently, 27 percent of Aklanons live in abject poverty. With agriculture left in shambles farmers have not felt the impact of local tourism that reportedly earns P18 billion in 2013. Is Todo Asenso only for the big capitalists? Or is it for everybody to share?
Our farmers are rapidly declining and aging 57 years old on the average, while young generation is not interested in farming. It is sad to imagine hunger knocking in our doorsteps while our Asean neighbors eat to their hearts’ content. /MP