Final Presidential Debate reveals the dark side of Bohol

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For those who watched the final Presidential Debatesin Pangsinan last Sunday, the episode has revealed a weakness, call it dark side if you want, of Bohol. There have been attempts to get an explanation if only to get to the real truth about it but the explanation does not hide the fact that there is so much that remains to be done to improve the poverty situation in the province.

Almost towards the end of the Presidential Debates, Karen Davila, one of the debate facilitators, presented Jessa, an elementary pupil from Buenavista,Bohol who asked the Presidential Candidates what they could do to help her and all children similarly situated with her if and when they get elected to the Presidency. Jessa said her family is so poor she could not afford to buy even a piece of pad paper for her class. She said she was too ashamed to borrow from her classmates, thus she just used banana leaves as her paper. ABS-CBNshowed the picture of the banana leaves that she used now filled with her notes.

Yesterday, feeling perhaps that Jessa’s story painted the dark side of Bohol, provincial officials asked the teacher of Jessa how true was the story and the teacher confirmed that the story that Jessaindeed used banana leaves but not because she was too poor to buy a pad paper but because it was a class in arts and Jessa was too innovative to use banana leaves as her canvass. In fact it was she who took a picture of the piece of “art” and posted it on Facebook which ABS-CBN used to demonstrate the sad state of poverty under which many of our people are suffering. It was just unfortunate that Bohol was also made as the “canvass” of this poverty that is gripping the land.

I asked DepED-.Bohol Supt. Dr.WilfredaBoncalos and she confirmed that Jessa belongs to a really poor family.

Whether to blame ABS-CBN for not verifying the facts of what they were going to demonstrate is no longer material at this moment. What should pinch the heart of our leaders, our candidates who are presenting themselves as the persons who can make life better for the people, is that poverty abounds anywhere. Jessa’s story is not an isolated one in Bohol. The recent Bohol Poll conducted by the Holy Name University showed that 66% of the Boholano voters rated themselves as poor. Are there any other better judges of how people feel about their social and economic status?

Our leaders of the Province boast of the growth that we have achieved in agriculture, tourism, health, education and investments but how many are in the same page of this development growth? How inclusive is this growth?

Now our perennial politicians are again asking us to vote for them. They tell us of their platform of government that they will pursue when elected. It is time that voters should be analytical and incisive in determining whether these platforms of government fit to a ‘T’ with what we think and know are our realneeds.During this election campaign, every candidate knows exactly what the people need and has an answer or program for each. How many of them will remember after the election will be another story.

Jessa’s story and those in the same boat with her tells us that somewhere there isa disconnect between plans or programs and implementation. We can have the best plans and programs but it they are nowhere near implementation they are no use to the people. Or even if there is implementation but this implementation is modified by the word “selective” it will never achieve its goal/s.

This is the same misconceptionabout what are the roles of congressmen, sanggunian members, governor, and mayor. Some would like the people to understand that they all have the same functions. That is why they think that what they expect the governor and the mayors to do will also be what the congressmen and the sangguian members will do.

It should be clear to the voters that the governors and mayors belong to the Executive Branch of Government while the congressmen and the members of the sanggunian belong to the Legislative Branch. The legislature passes laws and enacts policies but it is the executive that plans and implements programs of development. It is the executive that allocates the budget and the legislative only authorizes the budget and its expenditure.

The peoplecannot ask an accounting from the congressmen for the responsibility of project implementation or blame them for the state of life of the people. That is not their core mandate. Any project that they bring to their district is extra work to help the executive. The responsibility of planning and execution of those plans belong to the executive branch.

And so if the poor of society is becoming the rule rather than the exception, the first that should feel guilty should be those in the executive branch. If that episode was an embarrassment and a slap to Bohol who should be at the receiving end, the executive or the legislative?

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