Sunday, 11 March 2012

Editorial: Funding the needs of Mambulao in jeopardy

MONEY has always been crucial to the effective delivery of goods and services to the people.

Without much of this in the form of funding, whatever plans and social projects that a local government unit would like to pursue will never succeed.

Many grandiose plans where churned in the last local elections by contending candidates.

Among them were be the delivery of healthcare attention to the poorest of Mambulaoans, the creation of jobs for the many and the improvement of community sanitation and environmental protection/preservation.

All these are fund-pac-mans.

Just consider the following challenges to appreciate the issue:

In 2009, the LGPMS or Local Governance Performance Management System carried out an assessment on the over-all “health” status of Jose Panganiban.
It came out with the following issues that frontally challenged the capabilities of the sitting government.

1) State of health and nutrition - Maternal mortality rate is unbearable; infant mortality rate is considerably high;

2) State of education -
Tertiary or technical education completion rate is very low. Quality of human capital is an issue;l

3) State of housing and basic utilities -
Prevalence of households with makeshift houses is extremely high; Access to sanitary toilet facility is an inconvenience to a number of households. Health and sanitation is at stake;

4) State of employment -
Unemployment rate is alarming. Underemployment rate is high;

5) State of income -
Income per capita is extremely low. Poverty incidence is alarming. Magnitude of families living below poverty threshold is too high;

6) State of urban ecosystems -
Tree cover in urban areas falls short with the desirable condition. Air quality is at stake; Polluting industries are present. Air quality is at stake.  Air quality is uncomfortable;

7) State of agricultural ecosystems -
Percentage of irrigated land to total irrigable land is low. Agricultural land development effort leaves much to be desired, and the potential to increase agricultural produce is weak;

8) State of forest ecosystems -
Forest cover in forest land is denuded. Presence of illegal occupants in forest land. Forest resources and wildlife habitat are at risk. Incidence of large-scale illegal logging is high. Forest resources and wildlife habitat are severely at risk. Incidence of large-scale quarrying and mining in forest is high. Forest resources and habitat is severely at risk;

9) State of coastal marine ecosystems -
Mangroves loss is high. Marine productivity is at risk. Coastal fish catch has decreased for the past five years.  Many cases of illegal fishing were reported for the past 3 years; Too many squatter households are observed on coastline. Marine environment is at risk due to probable pollution loads ; Presence of polluting industries in coastal areas. Marine life is in danger. Presence of solid waste heaps is observed in many spots and sites on coastline. Quality of coastal water is questionable;

10) State of freshwater ecosystems - Presence of polluting industries in riverside or seaside.  Freshwater quality is poor. Too many squatter households are observed on riverside or seaside. It’s a social and environment issue. 

We are not talking about some place. We are describing our very own Mambulao.
In short, when the current town Mayor Ricarte Padilla took over the helm of the LGU from then mayor William Lim in 2010 – a year after the LGPMS results were released -- those were the challenges that he (Padila) immediately faced. And they, still, are right now.

Running a second-class municipality of more than 80,000 and with an annual revenue generation of only P45 million, Padilla is obviously saddled with budgetary constraints.

This, despite some funding assistance from the national government through the IRA – the internal revenue allotment – which was supposed to shore up the coffers of a recipient LGU such as Mambulao.

Now, the big, bad news is that the national government will slash this year its IRAs to all LGUs to the tune of P73 billion.

And this means that the funding that the municipality of Mambulao will get this year will be chopped, leaving the coffers with only crumbs.

During the past two years – 19 months to be exact – there has only been one positive development that emerged – the road cementing projects covering the municipality’s 27 baranggays, many of them in far-flung areas.

And this is being carried out using funds from the municipal coffers, some money from national leaders that included Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and some contributions from the community in the form of donated bags of cement.

This is because the municipal government could not just bankroll such road cementing project if it were to rely on its own revenue sources.

With the IRA being reduced this year owing to the reduced revenues generated last year as a result of economic crisis here and overseas, social services and development projects in Mambulao have been put in jeopardy.

Suddenly, the less-privileged Mambulaoans are facing uncertain prospects getting out of their present plight.

And Padilla is sure to be doing a tightrope-budget balancing act to make both ends meet towards the end of his term middle of next year.

Would he make it?

- AP Hernandez

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