Rice Fields Are Still Burning
by Ambrosio R. Villorente
Until this day, some 10 years after the Aklan Provincial Ordinance prohibiting the burning of rice straw was approved, the rice fields all over Aklan are still burning. Nobody pays attention to follow the said ordinance.
Even the barangay captains burn their rice straw immediately after harvest. Just go out to the rice fields and see the steaming piles of ashes. Our farmers had not known that burning farm waste will make the soil barren, useful insects are killed, organic matter is destroyed and plant nutrients evaporate.
In simple terms, our agricultural extension officials failed in their responsibilities to convince our farmers to follow recommended farm technologies to increase productivity and income.
How can a farm family follow recommended technologies when the local government units pay token attention only to farming? The dissemination of recommended practices to raise productivity is the function of the LGU, but agriculture is the least of their priority.
Proposed Aklan PPP Code
In a public hearing on the proposed “Ordinance Enacting the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Code of the Province of Aklan”, all those present wholeheartedly supported the proposal. There are however, weak points pointed out which need to be deleted, strengthened, or improved.
One modality for instance “Joint Venture” is recommended for deletion to prevent LGU Aklan from contributing money to any Joint Venture but to enable Aklan to devote its resources to its provincial projects.
Another proposal is to create a regular committee to review proposals submitted, conduct evaluation and analyses, and give recommendations. The approval of the PPP will be the function of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Office of the Provincial Governor.
A Rural Sociologist is recommended to be a member of the Committee which function is to conduct research studies on the behavior of the Aklanons towards a certain project and stimulus.
The NVC Institute of Public Policy Studies supports the approval of the PPP. It recommends however, that “the Province should not as a matter of policy extend direct Provincial guarantee, subsidy”.
Mr. Ernesto T. Solidum commented that “Enacting the PPP Code of the Province of Aklan could be one of the most comprehensive and compelling statutes. It is forceful and consistent to be performance-driven. The following are his comments:
a) Under Section 11-b, it states the list of projects to be implemented by the Province under any of the BOT variants shall be submitted for confirmation to the Provincial Development Council… It is assumed that this is the appropriate Regulatory authority.
Under the basic guidelines of PPP, the government invites private investors to put their money in infra and other socio-economic projects in order to address a pressing or critical public need. It rationalizes that PPP’s infrastructure reform policy by introducing competition in and for the market.
The subject of private investments in a public undertaking like a road infra is evidently the administrative realm of Provincial Board of Investments (BOI). Aklan has enacted the Provincial Investment Code several years ago, organized the BOI and its duties and function must be those cited in Section 4 – Rational for PPP’s. Specifically, BOI is the appropriate authority to determine reasonable rate of return, equity, subsidy/guarantees and assess status of competing bidders.
b) Under Section 5 – Definition of terms. The Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) the Private Sector Proponent (PSP) transfers to the Province at the end of the fixed term which shall not exceed 50 years must be reduced to a minimum of 10 years. Otherwise if the PSP opts for 50 years lease, then it automatically turns into Build-Own-Operate (BOO) variant.
c) Section 9 – List of Priority Projects. The Province shall identify specific priority development projects that must be undertaken under any of the PPP modalities.
This is injcomplete and generally stated. Hence, add the following statements:
List of priority projects must necessarily include project description, location, estimated cost, target beneficiaries and preferred modality to be posted in the official website of Aklan for wider publicity/info and awareness of prospective bidders.
Please allow me to recommend priority projects to be funded under PPP to wit:
a.) Disaster Risk Reduction – construction of covered courts/gymnasium;
b.) Hydropower projects in Libacao, Madalag , and Ibajay.
c.) Road Opening/Improvement from Poblacion, Libacao to its furthest barangay Alfonso XII.
d.) Triple AAA Abattoir for Kalibo. /MP