Worthy allocation for tourism, please!

By Anthony A. Araos

“ It is time for civil society organizations (CSOs) in Ifugao to quiz the candidates for congressman on their positions on vital issues such as the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program of the government, rice tariff law and China’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.”

Summer escapades in Ifugao are likely to draw local and foreign tourists to the province’s great attractions. But first, the continued inability of Ifugao to invigorate its tourism industry is hard to downplay. How come? World-acclaimed rice terraces of Ifugao are best for photography and quiet escape. Banaue, specifically Battad Rice Terraces, will teach one what paradise really means. The landscape of this place can easily set your mind and soul to the highest level of tranquility.
I hope the incoming provincial government officials shall be able to solve the problems of the tourism industry.
Well-meaning officials should fight and work for more worthy allocations for the tourism industry. To my mind, be it at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or Sangguniang Bayan, increased budgetary allocation for tourism is indeed a legacy-defining measure from the legislators. They should be brave enough to increase capital outlays to be used in the repair, rehabilitation, construction of tourism-related facilities and the purchase of equipment linked to tourism infrastructure.
This early, Lagawe National High School Extension is gearing up its preparations for the Brigada Eskwela Program. The program opens on May 20.
Teachers, parents and students, assisted by barangay council and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) officials, nongovernment organizations and people’s organizations officials and civilian volunteers, are scheduled to spruce up the facilities of the school for the start of classes on June 3. National School Maintenance Week, better known as Brigada Eskwela, is conducted annually and is aimed to kick off preparations for the school year.
Keeping the premises clean and school equipment in good condition are very important in public schools as this one. After all, Brigada Eskwela seeks to prepare the physical requirements for the school opening.
When conditions worsened in a public school due to meager resources, the principal and teachers usually responded with determination and foresight by tapping the kind-heartedness and generosity of those in the private sector. Thanks to their compassion, the environment in public elementary and high school is expected to be better and more conducive to learning. As it is, due to neglect and ineptness of those who walk in the corridors of power in the national, provincial and even municipal government, the problems on acute shortage of classrooms, antiquated and dilapidated facilities and congested classrooms still persist. Sadly, each year Filipinos are shocked by the sight of crowded classrooms or even children holding classes in school aisles or under a coconut tree.
How does one strengthen the Brigada Eskwela program? Donations are certainly most welcome. Find time for volunteer work and it makes a lot of sense. Cash-strapped public schools can use a fresh coat of paint. Rooks, ceiling and windows can be repaired in time for the start of the typhoon season. Attention should be given to lavatories in need of clean water. Other areas of concern include proper lighting and ventilation.
The Brigada Eskwela presents a good opportunity to bring about better conditions in public schools. It is the most opportune time for the people to volunteer their services to ensure the youth sector is accorded a place where learning in comfort is within reach.
That noteworthy goal, if achieved, will surely go a very long way in ensuring a better future for the young.
To this end, I shall offer a special prayer in a mass for all those who are taking part in the forthcoming Brigada Eskwela activity at Lagawe National High School Extension. It is located at Barangay Cudog.
It is time for civil society organizations (CSOs) in Ifugao to quiz the candidates for congressman on their positions on vital issues such as the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program of the government, rice tariff law and China’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.
CSOs should be invited for discussions on these matters.
In particular, congressional candidates need to clearly spell out their views on provision on expenditure assignment on poor provinces like Ifugao vis-à-vis allocations for the BangsaMoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARRM).
If Ifugao gets small funds it shall surely result to a fiscal nightmare. Think about the possible repercussion s could result in dire, irreversible economic consequences. The brunt of the lopsided fund support for BARRM is detriment to the best interest of impoverished Ifugao, will be borne by the people of the province. If more funds are allotted for Mindanao, allocation for Ifugao’s infrastructure would be much lower.
Farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems and bridges will be the first ones to be affected, considering that most of them could not cope with the huge costs brought about by high inflation rates. Inasmuch as the increase of construction cost would affect planned projects in Ifugao, it would aggravate the conditions of farmers.
The position of a congressional bet on the proposal to allocate ten billion pesos in subsidy for the rice industry in the aftermath of the imposition of tariff on rice imports should be clearly stated.
For the forthcoming polls, CSOs should have a significant influence over the policies, programs and projects of the government. If farmers reap blessings and rewards, it must be because CSOs have decided to work hard for them. People attract what they expect.
Why would anyone in the Ifugao congressional five-cornered race really care about the conditions of farmers? Imagine the farmer’s plight these difficult economic times. The farmer is heavily burdened by several problems. Farmers have expressed grave concern on the high production cost and low productivity of their produce. This requires urgent and decisive actions from the incoming congressman as well as other provincial government officials.
My recommendations: Loans for seeds and fertilizers at zero interest should be extended to them. Moreover, equipment and machinery services payable upon harvest are to be provided to soil tillers.
It’s a big question, of course, how the congressional aspirants are going to respond to this challenge. They are former governor Atty. Eugene Balitang, former congressman Atty. Solomon Chungalao, former Kiangan Mayor Jonathan Cuyahon, incumbent governor Atty. Pedro Mayam-o and former Department of Transportation regional director Timmy Mondiguing.
Currently, it is unfortunate that farmers are only hearing their “noisy” campaign jingles. I urge everyone in the congressional race to be involved in a debate for the electorate to understand better the foregoing matters. There has always been the empty promise to farmers of a comfortable life. Concrete and genuine support by the next congressman would help attain the dream of improving the lives of farmers through increased crop production. Furthermore, the incoming congressman should see the pressing need to introduce amendments to a number of laws affecting the agriculture sector, in order to address major loopholes, as well as problems in its implementation. Without a doubt, the next Ifugao representative is duty-bound to act on this concern in keeping with his mandate with the mandate. He should be ready to face the job’s challenges.
“Relieved fears hit Ifugao voters” may well be a headline of a newspaper in the CAR at the crucial stage of the campaign period.
Good feelings of the voters fell significantly with analysts and observers pointing to alleged operators of vote-buying schemes once more flexing their muscles for their ill-motivated activities.
Well, I’ve heard a lot from Ifugao folks about how they operate a week or so before the elections. Particularly, a day before the polls when they are so busy roaming around vote-rich villages and that’s where the trouble permeates. Just two days ago, a teacher said: “Money, money, money. That’s the system in Ifugao.”
Surely, there are several factors that led to the decline of fraud-free elections in Ifugao. In addition, as a result of a low standard of education and underdevelopment, voters are digesting this development as an indication that nothing is being done remotely to remedy the prevalence of the so-called “bobotantes and tanga-didatos” in their midst.
All told, vote-buying problem is just a part of the equation. If the public would look more closely at the entire span and architecture of the political system in the Philippines which promotes and nurtures patronage-based, elitist, manipulative and corrupt politics, they may easily note the problem and understand and appreciate what I’m driving at. For short, the whole gamut of the electoral process has been tainted with anomalies and violation s of election laws which result for the low quality of election administration and the lack of political will on the part of the powers-that-be. Money, money, money from moneyed-candidates and traditional politicians or “trapos” to cash-starved voters in the ranks of the masses is the order of the day. These are the same stories. This time, vote-sellers are starting to question their vote-buyers’ ability to offer a bigger amount of money to high inflation. Bottom line: Perhaps, incredibly stupid and insurmountably ignorant voters still have the same way of thinking on May 13. Look into the voters’ list padding, multiple registrations and multiple voting. Clean, free, orderly and honest polls will not be achieved without political reforms.
It takes more to explain the Ifugao voters’ malaise that the “money, money, money” premise when these individuals who are loudly mouthing this explanation are the ones choosing candidates based on popularity or kinship and not on party platforms and programs. Something is wrong somewhere!
Reports surfaced recently that the May 13 polls in Mayoyao town are infinitely exciting because all positions at stake are closely contested. The political battle is expected to be an eye-turner since many candidates are running for councilor. One of them is youthful leader Myra Faith Lumayna. She is the daughter of Mayor Ronie Lumayna, who opted not to seek any position and simply focused on the campaign of Atty. Solomon Chungalao, a candidate for congressman.
Ms. Lumayna has been involved in disaster preparedness program and youth projects. If elected, I expect her to contribute significantly in the collective development of the town. As an active pillar in the private sector, Ms. Lumayna shares the municipal government’s resolve to protect and defend the people to ensure peace and development for the town and people. It is time Mayoyao experienced the positive impact of Filipino leadership honed from the enthusiasm and idealism of the young. Those who can provide selfless involvement may be able to contribute to bringing to reality the changes that the nation need. A new leadership is imperative given the state of the country.
Finally, some thoughts for our readers: “The word of God is alive.” Hebrews 4:12
“I carry your burdens every day.” Ps 68:19
“To tell you frankly, I’m lucky if I get six hours sleep a day. Maybe that’s the price I had to pay for being in this position to oversee the development of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which is a huge job.” Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Atty. Amy Eisma **

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