THIS year – 2014 – should start the ball rolling for the local government of Mambulao.
The past six months from the start of July last year when the new municipal government officially assumed office should have served as the revving up and adjustment period for the eight councilors who were elected in the last local polls.
During this prolonged period of honeymoon between the local government headed by the re-elected mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla and the constituents of more than 50,000, things were expected to have settled in their proper places to allow the new local government to kick off in the New Year.
So far, the most visible activity that Mayor Padilla and his mixed town council had accomplished during their first six months was the mangrove replanting exercise.
This bakawan replanting project had drawn support from various sector of the Mambulao society.
The baranggay people came out in full force to cover with young trees a big swath of deforested mangrove areas while the distant supporters who included overseas Mambulaoans did their best to help -- by chipping in hard-earned money towards funding the propagation of new planting materials.
The endeavor replanted close to a half million bakawan trees in several mangrove areas along the shorelines of the municipality.
Padilla has programmed the replanting of at least one million trees – mangroves and denuded mountainside – over the next two and half years of his term.
There are a number of projects in various stages of work.
For one, the road to Larap, after it reached Sparline, has stalled for lack of funds.
However, unless the promised money comes to complete the remaining 2km that would connect the center of Larap to a concrete road, the local people here have nothing to do but pray hard for the government funding to come ASAP – whether it’s pork or otherwise.
We should remember that the funding for this stretch of cement road used to be from pork barrel. But this time, it could creep under another name and the Mambulao LGU is watching closely to snare it.
The squatter relocation project was initiated towards the end of last year, starting with the slow groundwork of a site at Sparline.
Under Padilla’s plan, this would be the future home of the squatter families along the beach in Parang.
Nobody however, even the mayor himself, knows how long this project could take to become a reality.
Funding – hopefully from development money to be dished out by senators and congressmen -- is another issue that would determine if the relocation project would really take off.
Of late, the Mambulao citizenry were being pricked by another pressing issue and this concerned the peace and order situation in the municipality.
The growing fear triggered by drug activities across Mambulao and the unstoppable break-and-enter incidences that sadly involved our minors needed concrete and joint action by the local government and the police.
And there’s this problem of irritating power outages that Mambulaoans thought should have been solved long time ago with the installation of a new transformer to boost power supply.
But it seemed, the measure did not work and instead subjected the helpless consumers to prolonged brownouts that have poised problems to household appliances and other gadgets and to their well-being.
Last year’s attempt by Padilla to initiate a livelihood project for the less-privileged Mambulaoans took off -- only to crash after a short while.
The Sulong sa Pangkabuhayan kariton project had the funding to launch and sustain it to full fruition, but along the way, something went wrong that only two of the first 10 beneficiaries succeeded to keep the small vending business going.
The rest had either failed to sustain the daily operations or simply were not that creative enough to generate the needed business.
The bright minds of the Sangguniang Bayan should be able to come up with better ideas to deal with this project positively.
So far, Mambulaoans have yet to hear from their councilors as to what projects they have in mind to help in the push for progress.
Although they promised to do a lot when they were wooing the people’s votes, they have not really sparked a bright idea that could provide the solution to the problems facing the municipality.
Perhaps, it’s just about time that they make a public report on whatever they had accomplished during their first six months in office.
This way, their constituents would have a clear idea as to where their governance is heading.
And while the people are waiting for their accomplishment reports, more questions are expected to pour in.
For instance: Will Padilla continue to take that hands-off policy with regards to the issue of illegal gold mining operations around the municipality?
While the national government has already declared the mining activities in Mambulao as illegal since the mining site has not been designated Minahang Bayan, mining operations in the area continue unabated, causing more harm to the environment.
The protection of the environment should be a top priority of the local government.
But what’s going on across the mining sites are more than enough to show that Padilla continues to fail in this area.
What about the waste management program aimed at dealing with the growing volume of community rubbish?
Has the material recovery facility (MRF) project been able to take off, in which the local government will buy waste plastic materials from the public as one way to rid the community of these wastes?
This too seems heading to an unplanned direction.
Many Mambulaoans must be too busy eking out a day to day living that they have forgotten to pause and ask: Is the new Mambulao government really working for me?
Padilla and his councilors may have a ready answer.
- Alfredo P Hernandez