Thinking Boholano public servants

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - September 19, 2019 - 12:00am

“Nothing is that never was a dream”. So goes a saying that found a dramatic realization recently among a group of public servants who wanted to put their sincere desire to serve their constituencies in the right direction. The members of the Sanggunian Bayan of the local governments units of Balilihan, Catigbian, Clarin, Jagna and San Isidro, in Bohol decided to understand deeper their duties and responsibilities to their people and hone their skills in delivering their service. So, they conceptualized a learning seminar of some kind which was held few days ago under the generic rubric “Local Legislation.” They all wanted to perform better in their job and if only in that positive frame of mind they have achieved more than those who, in our perception, are differently motivated.

I had the privilege of sharing with them productive time. We divided the course into two main schemes and tackling each of them proved to be both so exciting and challenging such that there never occurred a single dull moment. Understanding the fundamentals of writing ordinances, learning the process of passing legislative measures and knowing how to apply the Robert’s Rules of Order constituted the first part of the learning module.

The vice mayors of the LGUs attending the function and who led the discussions are of diverse background. Canalling their thoughts to a common learning paradigm was challenging. For instance, Jagna, Bohol, Vice Mayor Theodore Abrenilla is a practicing medical surgeon. Getting an elective post was not in his radar. He was even a substitute candidate in the middle of the 2019 campaign period. Vice Mayor Rey Allen Piezas, of Clarin, Bohol, is a registered nurse who spent years in the field of marketing. The vice mayor of Catigbian town, Esteban Angilan Jr., is in the mechanical engineering discipline while Balilihan Vice Mayor Adonis Roy Olalo, worked as a seaman before joining politics and the vice mayor of the municipality of San Isidro, Felimon Mantabute, is a businessman.

The councilors participating in the Local Legislation seminar come from different disciplines. There are lawyers and doctors in their midst. Yet, in their professional diversity, I sense an uncanny commonality in their desire of delivering the kind of service their constituencies expect. All of them demonstrated a high degree of enthusiasm to know the substantive nitty-gritty of their work as members of the local legislative branch. Acting with the infectious eagerness of college students finishing their term papers, they searched for statutory and legal basis for their planned actions.  Believe me, I was so moved by their participation that I never felt the impact of having to stand up for hours facilitating.

In the second part of the module, two very relevant issues evolved. They were tree planting and “habal-habal.” Floods and ironically, water shortage, are not only Cebu City’s problems. These concerns hound also far-flung Bohol towns. The Boholano local legislators in the forum agreed on the cheapest way of preventing floods. Reforesting the balding mountains is their way to protect their localities from the ravages of inundation. It costs comparatively much lower than digging deep canals. Better still, they committed to go beyond planning as they have decided that among the first things they would do when they go back to their respective jurisdictions is to legislate the planting of trees. They are all aware that trees may take a little time to grow big and robust, but during the seminar, the participating elected officials agreed that the solution was capable of addressing future disastrous flooding and doing it now is their call of the day.

I have read from the local dailies that our City Council is considering regulating the operation of habal-habal. Coincidentally, the Boholano vice mayors and councilors spent a good part of their forum to craft a similar measure. The depth of their understanding of the myriad aspects of this transport problem is profound. They talked about some facets of this blossoming business that though seemingly trivial are in reality sensitive. Their intellectual discussion awed me and I could only smile that the solution they proposed can be described as a collective stroke of thinkers at work. Hooray to them.


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