Archive for the ‘Bogo’ Category

Supreme Court Strikes Down Unqualified Cities

November 18, 2008

Finally, an institution that knows how to count numbers and read statutes put a stop to the indiscriminate conversion of ambitious but unqualified municipalities into ragtag cities. The Philippines’ Supreme Court, with a vote of 7-5, with two abstentions and one on leave, declared that 16 separate laws creating 16 cities that did not pass the requirements are unconstitutional.

The following “cities” are affected by this decision: Batac in Ilocos Norte; Tabuk, the capital of Kalinga; Tayabas in Quezon; Catbalogan, the capital of (Western) Samar; Borongan, the capital of Eastern Samar; Baybay in Leyte; Bogo, Naga and Carcar in Cebu; Guihulngan in Negros Oriental; Tandag, the capital of Surigao del Sur; Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte; Bayugan in Agusan del Sur; Mati, the capital of Davao Oriental; El Salvador in Misamis Oriental and Lamitan in Basilan.

It was the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) which raised the case before the Supreme Court. Cities in the Philippines partake from the same portion of the pie called Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). Therefore creation of new cities correspondingly reduce the allotment of the old cities and they begrudge it if the former town is unqualified to be a city. The city mayor of Davao even warned Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of political consequences if the said laws are passed since P180 million will be lost by his city with the creation of the new cities.

The 16 cities argued that since they first applied to be cities before the income requirement was changed from P20 million to P100 million then they should be exempted from the said standard. Congress bit into this argument because of political considerations. However, the Supreme Court ruled that nobody, even Congress, is exempt from the Local Government Code which set the said standards.

The Local Government Code sets the following standard for the creation of cities:
1. An income of at least P100 million for the last two years; and,
2. A population of 150,000 OR a contiguous land area of 100 square kilometers.

The 16 cities did not meet the income requirement. And not one of them also met the population requirement. It is probable that the only requirement that they met was the land area. But then a lot of obscure and remote towns will also meet that criteria.

Actually, the critical feature of a city is its urbanization. And this is best reflected in the income and in the population. To submit a town just because it meets the old requirement of P20 million is preposterous since a town earning just that will just be classified a 4th-class town. In the old days, a town must be a first-class town before it applies for cityhood.

This is not to denigrate these towns but just to show the absurdity of the 16 laws. Among Bicol’s 4th-class towns are Malinao, Malilipot and Manito in Albay and Del Gallego, Minalabac and Garchitorena in Camarines Sur. Tinambac and Pio Duran will then be “over-qualified” since both are 3rd class towns.

Some of the “promoted” towns barely had population of 50,000. 50,000 inhabitants is even below the average of towns between Naga and Legazpi. I have been to the majority of the 16 towns and I know that in some of these “cities” the primary motive power are still the legs of a man. That means the pedicab is still the main form of transport around town. In one of these “cities”, and a provincial capital at that, the prevailing monthly salary for a maid is P600 a month

It will be hard on the “cities” affected but as lawyers say “Dura lex, sed lex“.

(The images above are taken from the said “cities”.)

RO-RO Politics In SRNH And Bulan

November 6, 2008

A RO-RO (abbreviation for Roll On-Roll Off) ship are ferries designed to load vehicles using its wheels to roll onto the vessel and roll off the moment it hits port.

Last April, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the Central Nautical Highway (CNH) of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This “highway” is supposed to connect Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao thru the central portion of the country.  From Bulan, Sorsogon, supposedly one can load a vehicle to a RO-RO bound for Masbate City. From Masbate City one should drive to Cawayan, Masbate to board a RO-RO for Bogo City, Cebu. Driving to Cebu City it could board a RO-RO for Tubigon, Bohol. Then driving to Jagna, Bohol, a RO-RO should be available for Mambajao, the capital of Camiguin. Then driving south to Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin a RO-RO is available for Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. The final leg is a drive to Cagayan de Oro City, the terminus.

Complicated? Yes.  A pipe dream? Partly.  Some of the routes are simply not existing (maybe for show, yes) and will not exist for sometime because of lack of traffic, notwithstanding government lending programs.  There are better ways to get around inter-island and for the uninitiated, loading vehicles aboard RO-ROs is not cheap and for shippers it means a truck not rolling (no pun intended).

Obsession? I think so. Her father dreamed the Pan-Philippine Highway but Marcos appropriated it and renamed it after his fetish word, Maharlika.  No way to appropriate it back, she must leave a mark to replace what her father lost. Is it a wonder that some of the ports are named after her mother, Eva Macaraeg Macapagal?

But why is the northern terminus Bulan when the actual gateway to Masbate is Pilar, Sorsogon? Scuttlebutt is it is her way on getting back to the Escuderos who lord it over the 1st District of Sorsogon who are her political enemies.  The congressman of the 2nd District to which Bulan belongs is a long-time ally. 

Will this succeed? Fat chance. Passengers and shippers will always take the shorter and cheaper route. Decades ago Bulan was the gateway to Masbate but people and carriers shifted to Pilar even though it has no good port. But woe to all those that use Pilar. I do not know how to judge the IQ of decision-makers in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) who would rather finish a port in Castilla, Sorsogon, a place that has no RO-ROs. Hmmm! Anyway, isn’t it known that we have “bridges to nowhere”? After all, as they say, everything in government is politics. I begin to wonder now what is the mortal sin of the mayor of Pilar against the powers-that-be.

Comparative examples? Plenty. San Isidro, Northern Samar is the official port opposite Matnog, Sorsogon. But since it is farther Allen, Samar got developed by private enterprise and now nobody uses San Isidro port anymore.

Same case with Maasin City, Southern Leyte. It is the official port of entry of Southern Leyte from Cebu. But when the port was finished upgrading only one ferry company remained using it. More ferries were using Bato (pronounced Baaato, not like the Bicol variant which is pronounced hard like the object it represents), Leyte though it is not part of Southern Leyte, all for the simple reason that it is nearer, cheaper and the travel is faster.

Is it any wonder why people cut across lawns rather than go around it?