When Conserve Water Means Hands Washing

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With massive development, retroactive infrastructure and disrespect to nature here in Boracay, we often question ourselves and our peers what is the Mayor doing about this.

Nowadays we see the countless banners of Megaworld’s Boracay Newcoast proclaiming “Reuse, Reduce and Recycle”, “No Smoking on the Beach”, “No Littering” and “Conserve Water” with the taglines, “Let’s Help Keep Our Boracay Island Clean” and “Let’s Preserve and Protect Boracay”, including the logo of the Municipality of Aklan, lined up along the beach and the main road.  But this is blatant hypocrisy.  As we all know through Megaworld’s extensive marketing approach, in a few years time, the vast hectares of untouched land within the 140-hectare compound of Fairways and Bluewater will be transformed into a Megalopolis that will consist of five grand hotels, a cluster of condominiums, a shopping district, a town plaza and some tourist-oriented structures.

Where in the name of mother nature will the waste products of this development go when our small island is already experiencing all forms of pollution, not discounting the fact that our residents and tourists have had their lives put to risk in the traffic-congested main road, dirty Bolabog beach, crimes done by unevaluated migrant bystanders, and so on.

So then, who’s to blame? The heads of Megaworld?  They may be capitalist sharks willing to pay billions of pesos but they are just playing the devil’s advocate to a cat pretending to be a lion.  What then is the Mayor doing about this cat?  The cat that signs all permits and contracts made under his governing municipality.  It seems that they are one and the same.

But before we point our fingers to the usual suspect, let us first understand what the role of the Mayor is.

According to journalist Marites N. Sison’s entry on the book called Investigating Local Governments, “the Mayor occupies the highest elective position in a town or city.  Elected on three-year terms and allowed only three consecutive terms, the Mayor is responsible for charting the course of his community, a task that requires him to take on a variety of roles.

The mayor heads the executive branch and has jurisdiction over all national government agencies in the town, city or municipality.  The executive branch implements all municipal ordinances and applicable provincial and national laws and statutes.  His roles are:

As the Supervisor and Controller, he ensures that all municipal employees have varied work targets effectively and efficiently.  He also ensures that barangay chairpersons are doing their jobs as prescribed by law;

As the Law and Ordinances Enforcer, he ensures that law enforcement agencies and personnel of the town are performing their jobs in maintaining law and order, and sustaining a peaceful and safe environment for the local citizenry; sees to it that criminals and other law breakers, including insurgents, are meted penalties and punishment by the appropriate laws and ordinances;

As the Resource Mobilizer and User, he ensures that the town is able to access and generate the necessary financial and other resources to implement the municipal development agenda.  Must make sure the town receives the annual national government allocation and that the local government is able to impose and collect taxes and secure grants and/or loans from financial sources within and outside the municipality.  Ensures that all resources are effectively and efficiently used for the general welfare;

As the Orchestrator of Basic Services and Facilities Delivery, he oversees the preparation and implementation of a municipal development plan that addresses the needs and problems of the local citizenry.  Ensures that basic services and facilities devolved to the municipality are implemented.

But nothing really captures what a mayor is in the Philippine context more than the popular and loaded term, ‘boss’.”

Ms. Sison goes on with the list of what a Mayor can do. Excerpts from this list includes:

  • Exercise the power of eminent domain for public use or welfare of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just compensation (This should include the Atis, the pioneer inhabitants of Boracay, who until now are fighting for a land that they can call theirs).
  • Upon authorization of the Sangguniang Bayan, to enter into contracts needed to implement municipal development plans;
  • Upon authorization of the Sangguniang Bayan, to negotiate and secure financial grants or donations in kind to support the implementation of municipal development plans (No need for grants or donations when around 940,000 tourists per year pay 50 Php each for Environmental Fee, a whopping amount of 47,000,000 Php per annum still unaccounted for);
  • Upon the concurrence of the Sangguniang Bayan, provide financial and other forms of assistance to Police Officials and Non Governmental Organizations or the private sector for economic, socially oriented, environmental, or cultural projects to be implemented in the municipality (If such should be the case, local athletes representing the island in national and international competitions held locally or abroad should be allotted with funds in the name of Boracay, instead of them raising funds for themselves; and if there is no respect for the island’s nature and for the Atis, then the allotment of funds for the environment and culture go somewhere else, perhaps for travels to Italy, to a boxing match in Las Vegas, to a personal holiday, exorbitant gifts to friends, a property somewhere distant from here, and only God knows where else);
  • Oversee the implementation of the municipal public safety plan (This should include the strict control of public utility vehicles, upgrade of the public hospital and schools, treatment of polluted water in Bolabog, improvement of infrastructure, strict implementation of law toward motorized boats, alert inspection of incoming and outgoing travelers, reduction of the number of vendors and commissioners, etc.)

Now that the boss’s role is clear, I will let you, the readers, be the judge.  Though the Mayor said he could not do anything about the construction of the controversial West Cove as he was not on the seat of power then, I still hope that he prevents the captivating scenery by the Lapuz-Lapuz beach in Fairways and Bluewater from progressing into Megaworld’s concrete jungle, which I believe will soon after lead to the ominous sinking of this island paradise.

 

Published on the Boracay Sun, May Issue

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